Nobody’s Died Laughing

Durban International Film Festival 2016: Short, sharp reviews by Brenda Daniels

This excellent documentary by filmmaker Willem Oelofsen traces the life and work of well-known South African satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys. The director was present at the screening I attended and he explained that viewers should have been as exhausted once the show was done as Uys must be at the end of each of his very busy days. The film is indeed packed full of details about Uys from childhood to the present time. It includes interviews with several different celebrities and colleagues; face-to-face time with Uys himself; excerpts of several public performances around South Africa and abroad; visits to his home; and details of his humanitarian work.

Visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za for more information.

Positively Beautiful

Durban International Film Festival 2016: Short, sharp reviews by Brenda Daniels

I had the pleasure today of seeing the last DIFF screening of this South African documentary. The film details the stories of five adults who become friends through their shared journey as HIV positive people. Societal prejudice against the disease forms the backdrop for each participant’s experience, from animosity towards homosexuality to the risk of being killed for admitting one’s HIV status. The “positive” word in the title is a play, of course, on HIV and on how the participants bravely live out their lives. The strength of this film is the very personal depiction of each person’s story. I hope it gets future screenings in South Africa and abroad.

Visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za for more information.

The Redfern Story

Durban International Film Festival 2016: Short, sharp reviews by Brenda Daniels

The Redfern Story is a fresh, positive, happy look at how the arts world was a germination ground for Aboriginal political consciousness in 1970s Australia. So used to angst-riddled race rhetoric I welcomed this simple documentary that showed the originality, boldness, creativity and sense of humour that characterised the beginnings of Aboriginal theatre in a suburb of Sydney called Redfern. A gem.

Visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za for further screening times

Radio Dreams

Durban International Film Festival 2016: Short, sharp reviews by Brenda Daniels

Radio Dreams

This film in Farsi with English subtitles is about a tiny Iranian radio station situated in San Francisco. Events take place over one day and centre almost solely within the walls of the station. Main anchor, Hamid, wants to promote purely Iranian fare, as well as his own artistic prowess. As such he eschews any American influence, almost subconsciously scuppering plans for the station to integrate with the community. The futile holding onto his long-gone homeland, makes Hamid a sad figure. Likewise, the blank stares of the other characters make this movie’s attempt at humour, a little sad.

Visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za for further screening times.

A Mile in My Shoes

Durban International Film Festival 2016: Short, sharp reviews by Brenda Daniels

A Mile in My Shoes

The full title of this Moroccan/Canadian film is “You don’t me know me until you have walked A Mile in My Shoes”. This appellation is borne out in the action of the film as a convicted criminal tells his story to a journalist, a journalist who is prepared to listen to the man behind the crimes .The underlying premise of the tale is clearly that criminals are made not born; under favourable conditions they would not turn to lawlessness. The latter is all I can use to explain the surprising – and I feel unrealistic – ending of an otherwise tense and brilliantly acted movie.

Visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za for further screening times.

The Journeymen

Durban International Film Festival 2016: Short, sharp reviews by Brenda Daniels

The documentary, The Journeymen, was filmed solely on GoPro cameras strapped to the chests of three millennials, Sean Metelerkamp, Sipho Mpongo and Wikus De Wet. The South African friends – White English-speaking, White Afrikaans-speaking, and Black Xhosa-speaking men – examine the state of South Africa today, 20 years after democracy. They travel across South Africa into the less salubrious township areas, speak cross-culturally to its residents, and have difficult race-based and political conversations amongst themselves and with the people they meet. A brave and unique endeavour, The Journeymen, is both sobering and heartening to watch. Sobering because of the staggering problems so many people in this country face. Heartening because if these three young men are anything to go by, then perhaps we have a chance of making SA’s race relations work. Visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za for further screening times.