Cinema in all its diversity will once again be celebrated at the 29th Durban International Film Festival, running 23 July - 3 August. Opening the festival is the African Premiere of Ralph

jul-jeru
Jerusalema to open SA's longest running film festival
Ziman's Jerusalema, a gritty gangster thriller set on the harsh streets of Johannesburg.

Featuring more than 200 films from more than 95 countries, spread over more than 300 screenings at 26 venues across the city, the festival will bring together established masters of cinema and innovative new talents from around the world. Alongside the presentation of the some of the year's finest films, the festival will run an extensive workshop and seminar programme giving the regions aspirant filmmakers an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by some of cinema's greats. The festival will offer an exciting journey into the world of
contemporary cinema with a range of feature films, documentaries and short films that will not only entertain, but enlighten and inspire.

Festival director Peter Rorvik explains: "The Durban International Film Festival opens a window on the world, provides access to many different cultures and provides a space in which the cinematic art form transcends national boundaries. The recent tragic events in South Africa give cause to highlight what has long been a central idea of the Durban International Film Festival: to create understanding and acceptance of different cultures through the medium of film. A special programme of films focuses on the issue of xenophobia, and some of its attendant roots such as racism, migration and poverty."

Under the banner Love Film, Hate Xenophobia, the festival will present films such as Darrell James Roodt's Zimbabwe, which looks at the arduous journey a young woman makes from Zimbabwe to South Africa; Penny Woolcock's Exodus which imagines a near-future England in which foreigners are incarcerated in a ghetto; the moving Canadian film Family
Motel about Somalian refugees; Victims of Our Richness, which dissects the exploitation and brutality experienced by desperate Malian migrants; and a selection of specially  commissioned films under the banner Filmmakers Against Racism made specifically about the xenophobic attacks.

The selection of films will also see some of the world's finest and most critically-acclaimed directors represented by their new works including Gus Van Sant (Paranoid Park), Abolfazl Jalili (Hafez), Buddhadeb Dasgupta (The Voyeurs), Brillante Mendoza (Slingshot and Foster Child), Atom Egoyan (Adoration), George Clooney (Leatherheads), Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Banishment), Santosh Sivan (Before The Rains), Doris Dorrie (Cherry Blossoms - Hanami), Fatih Akin (The Edge Of Heaven), Takeshi Kitano (Glory To The Filmmaker), Jiri Menzel (I Served The King Of England), Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree), Josef Fares (Leo), Bela Tarr (The Man From London), Harmony Korine (Mister Lonely), Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Ploy) and Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light).

Says Nashen Moodley, DIFF's manager and programmer: "While the selection boasts a number of festival regulars and favourite directors, the very exciting thing about this year's programme is the large number of new filmmakers represented. The festival of 2008 will be one of discovery: an introduction to and celebration of the next generation of cinematic legends."

The festival will once again shine a spotlight on the cinema of Africa under the African Perspectives theme, presenting the World Premieres of Nothing But The Truth by John Kani,  which is based on his popular play; My Black Little Heart by Durban's Claire Angelique, a dark look at Durban's underbelly; and uMalusi, directed by Mlandu Sikwebu and produced and shot by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka. Following successful screenings in Toronto and London, DIFF will present the African Premiere of Shamim Sarif's The World Unseen.

Other South African films include Land Of Thirst, directed by Meg Rickards and produced by Durban's Vuleka Productions; the Ugandan-South African co-production Divizionz, directed by Yes! That's Us; The Bird Can't Fly, a Dutch-South African co-production directed by Anna Threes; the satirical animation, Tengers by Michael Rix; Darrell James Roodt's Zimbabwe; and Michael Raeburn's much-anticipated Triomf, a controversial take on Marlene Van Niekerk's acclaimed novel.

DIFF gathers together an expressive concentration of 71 South African films, comprising 10 feature films, 29 documentaries and 32 short films which indicate the steady growth of  filmmaking in this country. Underscoring the broader African presence of a further 38 films from the continent will be the Ousmane Sembene Retrospective, a presentation of all the major works of the late, great father of African cinema.

As the films unspool, a group of young African filmmakers will participate in Talent Campus Durban, an intensive 5-day programme of workshops held in cooperation with the Berlinale Talent Campus which forms part of the Berlin International Film Festival. Under the theme "Producing African Cinema for a New World", participants will benefit from both theoretical  and practical approaches that enhance their cinematographic and creative experience. The overall objective is to empower a new generation of African filmmakers. In this period of
social unrest wrongly targeting "foreigners" the Talent Campus Durban, with its 40 participants representing 19 countries, can demonstrate the art of African collaboration in action and celebrate the creative strength of diversity.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket, and other outlets. Full festival details can also be found on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or by calling 031 2602506 or 031 2601650.