A cultural highlight for those who prefer their film fare with substance, relevance and controversy, the fifth annual Tri Continental Film Festival goes red hot in Gauteng with an explosion of provocative, cutting-edge contemporary cinema from Africa, Latin America and Asia.

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57 hard-hitting documentary and feature films looking at human rights and social issues make up this year’s impressive programme.

The 11 strong Asian Selection encompasses films from the political and social hot-spots of Iraq, Iran, Palestine and Afghanistan including Enemies of our Happiness which explores the role of women in Afghanistan’s first democratic parliamentary election, while the multi-award-winning In the Shadow of the Palms is the only documentary to be filmed in Iraq prior to, during and after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The Latin America Selection tackles meaty subjects such as the link between slavery and some charitable organisations in Brazil (the feature, What is it worth?), the revolutionary strategy of the contentious President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez (Revolution) and attempts by a group of surfers to change the lives of youth in Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum (the award-winning Surfing Favela).

Closer to home, the continent is not forgotten with 10 remarkable offerings including the opening night film Have you heard from Johannesburg part four of a six part documentary series chronicling the history of the global movement that took on South Africa’s entrenched apartheid regime. There’s also the moving Love, Communism, Revolution and Rivonia, which recounts the life of Bram Fischer, once SA’s most wanted man and the internationally acclaimed We are Together, the uplifting story of a South African orphanage unlike one you’ve ever seen before;  filmed over three years and spanning two continents.

The Young Urban Poets Selection presents a range of films focusing on hip hop and social change including Hip Hop Revolution, which explores the 25 year journey of hip hop in South Africa starting at its birth on the Cape Flats; Township Jive, a tribute to the musical and cultural diversity of South Africa; and Counting Headz, a look at misogyny and discrimination against women in the world of hip hop.

The phenomenal impact of soccer on communities and individuals comes under the spotlight in two films presented under the banner of ‘One Nil to Human Rights’. SOS Soccer on Sundays is a human drama that touches on the dreams, hopes and realities of refugee soccer players in South Africa, while The Railroad All-Stars depicts the struggle of three prostitutes to have their football team accepted by the local championship league in Guatemala.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara, the Tri-Continental Film Festival is also screening three films on the ties between Africa and Cuba, while the voices of young people are represented in a trio of films that explore the lives of children facing war or poverty in Asia and Africa.

A landmark aspect of the Tri Continental Film Festival this year is the ‘People to People’: International Documentary Conference. This three day event (13, 14 and 15 September) will bring together the country’s leading filmmakers, broadcast executives and academics in discussing and debating the issues, ethics and concerns dominating the documentary genre. There will also be screenings and masterclass workshops on documentary filmmaking techniques. The Conference takes place at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg.

Tickets to the Tri Continental Film Festival can be purchased at cinema box offices, from cinema Self-Service Terminals, by calling TicketLine 082 16789 or at www.sterkinekor.com

For programme details, schedules and more information go to www.3continentsfestival.co.za or www.sterkinekor.com

Source: Total Exposure / Tri Continental Film Festival