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Durban International Film Festival

10 films we’re watching at the 37th Durban International Film Festival

The 37th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is almost upon us. It’s SA’s preimiere ten day film event where audiences can binge on world class cinema and attend seminars and workshops with key industry figures. This year, there’s some stellar South African films in the line-up such as Endless River, Wonder Boy for President and The Journeymen. Here’s our selection of local and international films we’re looking forward to seeing. 


Indiewire described this comedy-drama as “a breath of fresh air in an indie landscape that often tends to focus on #WhitePeopleProblems”. The story follows a transgender sex worker, who discovers her pimp and boyfriend have been cheating on her. Directed by Sean S. Baker and shot with three iPhone 5s smartphones, the plot is bound to make you laugh and the level of technical finesse will open your eyes to what can be accomplished with a limited technical resources. 

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The Endless River

This is acclaimed SA director, Oliver Hermanus’s, third feature film. A young waitress forms an unlikely relationship with a French expat, who is grieving due to the tragic and violent loss of his family. Set in the Western Cape town, Riviersonderend, Hermanus brings to the screen a character driven drama exploring the complexities of present day South Africa where finding solace takes a perilous turn. 

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Wonder Boy for President 

John Barker’s new mockumentary starring Kagiso Lediga is premiering at DIFF.  Follow Wonder Boy, a young man from the Eastern Cape, who is coerced into running for president by two dubious characters, who aim to mould him into a poster boy politician. With news source footage of Julius Malema, Mmusi Mamaine and Helen Zille spliced between Wonder Boy’s journey, this looks to be this year’s must see full feature political satire. 

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The Unseen

The Unseen is more conversation than narrative and shares philosophical musings exploring what is means to live in independent Namibia. Blurring the line between fiction and documentary, we follow the lives of three characters in interconnected vignettes, who traverse emotional and physical realities of a post-colonial country. 

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Miles Ahead 

This autobiographical film explores the life and times of jazz legend, Miles Davis. Don Cheadle, depicts a passionate musician troubled by a deteriorating hip, drug addiction and past traumas. The challenges a prolific artist faces to get out of a creative slump is the dilemma which Miles but either succumb to or overcome. 

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Naked Reality 

Controversial film maker, Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s afrofuturist film is a collaborative cinema concept where aspects like sets, music and dialogue were left out and other writers, artists and filmmakers were invited to fill in the missing elements. The story takes places 150 years from now where the protagonist, Wanita, must save the world from being taken over by immortals. 

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Meet Ayoub, the 17 year old who is growing up under tough circumstances. All he wants is the attention of a girl called Laura but she isn’t interested in a teenager with a troubled background. He then falls in with Kalpa, a high-rolling, Lamborghini-driving criminal, who enlarges his status but not enough to win Laura over, and soon realises that living the high-life comes with an unexpected price tag.

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This documentary directed by Penny Lane is about Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who despite the odds built an empire in the Depression-era in the USA. He developed a goat testicle impotence cure, built the worlds most powerful radio, invented junk mail and hosted incredible parties until the federal government got involved in his shenanigans. The Guardian described it as, “a ridiculously enjoyable ode to old, weird America”.

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The Journeymen 

“Has Mandela’s vision of equality in a rainbow nation been achieved?” is the central question to this documentary. Sean Metelerkamp, Sipho Mpongo and Wikus De Wet travel across South Africa interviewing a variety of people with GoPros to capture their response. The result is a vivid, disturbing, honest and though provoking portrait of where we think we currently at as a nation. 

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Girls Don’t Fly 

Girls in Ghana get serious about aviation. The AvTech Academy is the only flying school for aspiring engineers and pilots in the country. On paper, the institution ticks the right boxes, but a closer look reveals that the white Englishman, who runs the school, often puts his ideological stamp on the students. Girls Don’t Fly, is a case study of the “charity-industrial complex” and takes a critical look at the complexities of female empowerment in a patriarchal domain. 

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The Durban International Film Festival runs from the 6-16 June. 

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