Twelve documentaries and 12 narrative features have been selected for this year’s edition of the Durban FilmMart, a gathering of African filmmakers, financiers, broadcasters and top film experts taking place from 20 to 23 July during the 33rd Durban International Film Festival.

Durban FilmMart

An annual finance and coproduction market now in its third year, Durban FilmMart gives filmmakers an opportunity to network with film professionals as well as gain skills from industry workshops, seminars and master-classes.

“We are very pleased to announce the official projects of this year’s Durban FilmMart, which we hope will make significant progress in their development through their participation in this forum,” said Toni Monty of the Durban Film Office.

A Reader Panel made up of African and international film professionals were given the task of scoring the total of 110 submissions, made up of 67 feature and 43 documentary projects. The filmmakers behind the 24 selected projects will have one-on-one meetings with potential investors and co-producers in the Finance Forum. The documentary projects will also be pitched to a panel of commissioning editors and funders in the DOC Circle. The filmmakers will also get the chance to meet industry professionals during networking sessions.

The selected projects are:

Documentaries

Fiction features

 

DOCUMENTARIES

Bread and Angels

Country: Morocco
Producer: Rachid Biyi
Director: Rachid Biyi

Bread and Angels tells the story of Morocco’s 1981 Bread Revolt. Rachid Biyi follows family members as they meditate on the loss of their loved ones leading up to the official opening of the graveyard for the victims of the revolt.

Biyi studied in Morocco and France, holds a PhD in Communication Arts and Entertainment and teaches at Ben M’sik Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Casablanca. He has participated in writing workshops in Europe, co-written a fiction short and co-produced three films.

Conversations with Mandela

Country: South Africa
Producer: Carolyn Carew
Director: Khalo Matabane

Conversations with Mandela interrogates the memory of struggle icon Nelson Mandela. Through interviews with leading intellectuals including Rian Malan, George Bizos, Njabulo S Ndebele and Albie Sachs, Mandela’s philosophy of forgiveness and reconciliation is tested while the film reflects on his philosophy’s impact on contemporary South African society.

Carolyn Carew and Khalo Matabane’s production company Born Free Media has produced numerous award-winning South African television productions including, most recently, 90 Plein Street. Matabane’s filmography has earned him many awards including Best South African Film at the Durban International Film Festival for Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon.

The Devil’s Lair

Country: South Africa
Producer: Neil Brandt
Director: Riaan Hendricks

The Devil’s Lair looks at the struggles of a community against crime while exploring the challenges faced by ex-convicts who can only make a living in the criminal underworld. The project has been developed with support from the Puma BritDoc Foundation, the National Film and Video Foundation and the Jan Vrijman Fund.

Neil Brandt has produced an extensive list of award-winning documentaries including Sea Point Days, Affectionately Known as Alex and Dear Mandela, which won best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival. His feature film uGugu no Andile won Best African Language Film at the African Movie Academy Awards. Riaan Hendricks’ previous documentaries include A Fisherman’s Tale, Revolutionaries Love Life, The City that Kills Somalians and The Last Voyage, for which he was nominated for a Golden Horn for Cinematography.

EMBO

Country: South Africa
Producer: Madoda Ncayiyana
Director: Ayanda Mncwabe-Mama

EMBO is a 10-part documentary series that seeks to discover the religious beliefs of Southern African people before the arrival of missionaries, tracing the historical journey of Africans migrating south. The series uses research and interviews with African scholars including Leonard Ngcongco, Mathole Motshekga and Nokuzola Mndende.

Madoda Mditshwa co-own Iliso Films, a South African production company whose work deals mainly with issues of faith and heritage. Mditshwa studied music at the Durban Westville University, now the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and has worked extensively in marketing and arts management. Mncwabe-Mama is a video technology graduate from the now Durban University of Technology. She has directed the spirituality-based television series Issues of Faith and Izwi Labantu as well as the documentaries Who Am I: Nonhlanhla’s Story and Cycle of Life.

Gold Dust

Country: South Africa
Producer: Neil Brandt, Odette Geldenhuys
Director: Odette Geldenhuys

Gold Dust looks at the controversial case of Aurora Empowerment Systems, a consortium part owned by South African president Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela. This scandal received wide coverage in South African media and led to the loss of 3 500 jobs and R1.7-billion. Gold Dust confronts the moral issues at stake in a case of rampant greed and abuse of political power.

Gold Dust is producer Neil Brandt’s second project in this year’s Durban FilmMart, and directed by Durban-based filmmaker Odette Geldenhuys. Geldenhuys has directed Here be Dragons, Grietjie van Garies and Being Pavarotti, winner of the Best South African Documentary Award at the Durban International Film Festival. Through her production company, Frank Films, Geldenhuys is also the executive producer of Gold Dust.

Jan Smuts – An Icon Ahead of his Time

Country: South Africa
Producer: Sandra Herrington
Director: Neville Herrington

Jan Smuts – An Icon Ahead of his Time is a feature-length film that documents the life and political career of statesman Jan Smuts, who lost the decisive election that put the National Party in power and officially ushered in the apartheid regime in South Africa. The documentary speculates on the course of events that would have unfolded had he achieved victory in the white South African election of 1948.

Sandra and Neville Herrington co-own the Durban-based production company Tekwini Television Productions, which has over 22 years of experience producing documentaries as well as environmental and wildlife films for local and international broadcast.

Logs of War

Country: Kenya
Producer: Anjali Nayar
Director: Anjali Nayar, Hawa Essuman

Logs of War exposes the environmental and war crimes of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was sentenced to 50 years behind bars in the Special Court on Sierra Leone set up through the ICC. The film seeks to uncover how Charles Taylor presided over the irregular allotting of forestry concessions and the trade of timber for weapons. This film was developed through the BritDoc Puma Catalyst award and has won funding from the Jan Vrijman Fund.

Anjali Nayar is a Kenyan environmental journalist and documentary filmmaker who covers environmental issues across Africa and Asia. She has a masters degree in documentary and broadcast journalism from University of Columbia and is currently completing her next film, Heart of Iron. She will be co-directing Logs of War with Hawa Essuman.

Mother of the Unborn

Country: Egypt
Producer: Fawzi Saleh
Director: Nadine Salib

Mother of the Unborn looks at the difficulties faced by Egyptian women unable to conceive as they face rejection by their families and stigmatization by their communities. The film tells the stories of several childless women who navigate their world of rural Egyptian myths, legends, habits and traditions surrounding childbearing and infertility. The project has secured funding from the Screen Institute Beirut.

Fawzi Saleh is a screenwriter, filmmaker and human rights activist whose first feature-length documentary Living Skin had success in the festival circuit, being selected for HotDocs among others. Nadine Salib is an emerging independent filmmaker with a background in fiction and factual directing. Mother of the Unborn is her first feature-length documentary.

Sands of the Skei Queen (working title)

Country: South Africa
Producer: Odette Geldenhuys, Ryley Grunenwald
Director: Ryley Grunenwald

Sands of Skei Queen was a selected project of this year’s HotDocs and shows the attacks on ecologically sensitive tribal land by multinational corporations and mining interests intent in exploiting the land for titanium. The film chronicles the work of Nonhle, a young rural activist, and her 79-year-old headman fighting for the voiceless on an issue that is often denied media coverage. Ryley Grunenwald is co-producing the project with Odette Geldenhuys, the director of Gold Dust.

Grunenwald has a BA (Hons) Motion Picture degree from AFDA and is currently studying toward her Masters of Arts at Wits University. Her debut feature-length film Dawn of a New Day travelled the festival circuit widely and was selected for the Durban International Film Festival. Grunenwald serves on the board for the Documentary Filmmakers Association.

Shattered Pieces of Peace

Country: South Africa
Producer: Sakhile Dlamini
Director: Nonhlanhla Dlamini

Shattered Pieces of Peace is Nonhlanhla Dlamini’s first feature-length documentary and was selected for pitching at DOC Circle 2011 through Talent Campus Durban’s Doc Station. It tells the story of a mother whose relationship with her daughter breaks down as a result of her public declaration of her homosexuality and HIV-positive status

Sakhile Dlamini began his career presenting and producing a children’s show in Swaziland as a teenager and has gone on to produce regular documentary pieces for Dutch television station VPRO Broadcasting. Nonhlanhla Dlamini has worked on numerous South African television shows including Gaz’lami, Mzansi, Muvhango and Stokvel and has attended Berlinale Talent Campus as well as Talent Campus Durban.

The Soweto Messiah

Country: South Africa
Producer: Michael Auret
Director: Francois Verster

The Soweto Messiah is a project that will document 25 000 Sowetan choir singers as they come together to perform Handel’s Messiah oratorio at Johannesburg’s Orlando Stadium.

Mike Auret is the managing director of Spier Films and is responsible for most of their award-winning fiction and documentary projects, which include Master Harold and the Boys, Black Butterflies and Robert Mugabe ... What Happened?. Auret previously worked as the director for the Cape Town World Cinema Festival and the Sithengi Film and TV Market.

François Verster is a critically acclaimed director whose 2002 film A Lion’s Trail won an Emmy award for Outstanding Cultural and Artistic Achievement. His filmography includes the titles Sea Point Days, The Mother’s House and When the War is Over. Verster is currently completing his Durban FilmMart 2010 project, The Dream of Shahrazad.

Underground / On the Surface

Country: Egypt
Producer: Mohamed El Tohami
Director: Salma El Tarzi

Underground / On the Surface explores a new alternative musical genre known as Mahraganat Shaabi which, although rejected by the mainstream, has become popular with the youth in the streets of Cairo. This project received development funding from the Arabic Fund for Arts and Culture.

Mohamed El Tohami began his career as a freelancer in commercials before starting his first commercials production company, 35 Film Production. Through Aker Productions, Eltohami produces feature-length features and documentaries. Salma Eltarzi is an Italian-Ethiopian documentary director who studied animation at the High Cinema Institute in Cairo. Her short documentary Do You Know Why? was screened to critical acclaim at the Rotterdam Arabic Film Festival. She has also produced several television documentaries for Al Jazeera TV.

 

FICTION FEATURES

Djin

Country: Kenya
Producer: Hawa Essuman
Director: Hawa Essuman
Screenwriter: Hawa Essuman (Kenya) and Mona Ombogo (Ghana)

Djin is a story about an old Kenyan mythical wind called Djin which hits the coast of Kenya every 30 years, blowing away all uncertainty and bringing a determination to pursue the deepest desires of those who encounter it.

Hawa Essuman began her career as a theatre actress and started working in production for TV commercials and documentaries before directing drama series in Kenya. Her directorial filmography includes Selfish?, The Lift and Soul Boy, which was an official Durban International Film Festival selection and won a number of awards in festivals around the world.

Flatland

Country: South Africa
Producer: David Horler
Director: Jenna Cato Bass
Screenwriter: Jenna Cato Bass (South Africa)

Flatland is a South African western set in the Karoo that sees three women face mental and physical hardships as they search for a rumoured apartheid-era nuclear bomb.

David Horler studied towards a BA Motion Picture degree at AFDA and then worked for leading South African production companies Velocity Films and Egg Films. He has since freelanced on range of projects before starting Proper Films to develop film projects.

Director, cinematographer, editor and magician, Jenna Cato Bass is also an AFDA graduate. Her Zimbabwe-set short film The Tunnel was selected for the Africa First Short Film Programme while her debut feature Tok Tokkie was awarded the Hubert Bals Fund Award for the Most Promising Project at Durban FilmMart 2010.

In Silence ... & In Tears

Country: Nigeria
Producer: Ikechukwau Omenaihe
Director: Didi Cheeka Anni
Screenwriter: Didi Cheeka Anni (Nigeria)

In Silence …& In Tears is the tale of two lovers whose tribal differences tear them apart. It is a dark, rage-filled, poetic depiction of revenge and lust.

Ikechukwu Omenaihe studied film at the National Film Institute, Jos, and has worked on various productions including the BBC’s Wetin Dey as well as feature films Confusion Na Wa and A Place in the Stars. Didi Cheeka Anni, a graduate of the National Film Institute, Jos, and the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, is a director and film critic. His work includes the short film Bloodstones, Red Light District and Lonely is the Night.

Jambula Tree

Country: South Africa and Kenya
Producer: Steven Markovitz
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Screenwriter: Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya)

Jambula Tree is a coming-of-age story about two Kenyan girls who fall in love and whose desire for each other flies in the face of African conventions. This project was awarded support from the Göteborg International Film Festival Fund.

Steven Markovitz has over 20 years’ experience producing critically acclaimed features, documentaries, short films and festivals. His filmography includes Viva Riva!, Proteus and A Boy Called Twist. Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu is an award-winning director whose films include From a Whisper, For Our Land and the short film Pumzi.

Live From Zimbabwe

Country: Zimbabwe
Producer: Jackie Cahi
Director: Rumbi Katedza
Screenwriter: Rumbi Katedza (Zimbabwe)

Live From Zimbabwe takes place in a remote Zimbabwean village in the mountain region where the government refuses to bring development. When the chief’s son acquires a radio transmitter and sets up a pirate radio station, revolutionary will takes over the people who demand change.

Jackie Cahi is a Zimbabwe-based producer whose credits include Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Kare Kare Zvako, That’s Me for the Steps for the Future series, Blue Sky and Playing Warriors. Rumbi Katedza studied English at McGill University, Montreal and Film at Goldsmiths, University of London as a Chevening scholar. Her credits include Playing Warriors, The Team and The Axe and the Tree.

The Mercy of the Jungle

Country: Rwanda
Producer: Joel Karekezi
Director: Joel Karekezi
Screenwriter: Casey Schroen (USA) and Joel Karekezi (Rwanda)

The Mercy of the Jungle tells the story of two men separated from their battalion and left to fight for survival in the unforgiving jungle of the Congo. This film is a heartfelt stand against war and its tragic results.

Joel Karekezi’s debut short film Imbabazi (The Pardon) screened at numerous festivals including the Durban International Film Festival. He developed the feature film version of Imbabazi in collaboration with Columbia University and Maisha Film Lab Mentorship before it participated in Durban FilmMart 2011, where it was selected for the Rotterdam Lab.

The Number

Country: South Africa
Producer: Carolyn Carew
Director: Khalo Matabane
Screenwriter: Amanda Evans (South African)

The Number is one of two projects selected from Carolyn Carew and Khalo Matabane’s BornFree Media. The story is based on Johnny Steinberg’s critically acclaimed book of the same name, on prison gangs in South Africa. Set against the backdrop of the political changes in South African, the film follows a boy who grows up in the prison system to become a man feared within the Numbers gangs.

Papwa

Country: South Africa
Producer: David Selvan
Director: Catherine Stewart
Screenwriter: Catherine Stewart (South Africa)

Papwa is based in the real-life story of Papwa Sewgolum, a Durban man of Indian descent who defied the odds and the discriminatory sports codes of apartheid to play golf. Papwa’s prowess in the game won him acclaim worldwide and rubbished apartheid segregation laws.

David Selvan is an executive producer with a legal background who has worked extensively in Los Angeles and London. His previous works include The Fourth Reich and Ask The Dust, released through Paramount. Catherine Stewart studied Film in Stanford University and Columbia University and has directed documentaries and dramas for numerous broadcasters including SABC, MNet and PBS. She is a former participant of the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and the Director’s Lab.

Repeated Stopping

Country: Egypt
Producer: Hossam Elouan
Director: Marouan Omara
Screenwriter: Mohamed Salah Al Azab and Marouan Omara (Egypt)

Repeated Stopping tells the story of Egyptian youth frustrated by poverty and unfulfilled desire for independence in a state bogged down by systematic stagnancy. It’s about a young man whose search for work forces him to live on his own in the city and leads him on an unexpected journey of self discovery.

Hossam Elouan studied towards an MA in Cinema Studies at San Francisco State University, specialising in Arabic and World Cinema, and is a graduate of the EAVE programme. He produced the feature film Hawi, which won Best Arab film at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. Marouan Omara recently completed his studies at Helwan University and works as a writer, cameraman, editor and director.

A Shot at the Big Time

Country: South Africa, Australia and UK
Producer: Janet van Eeden and Magda M Olchawska
Director: Stephen de Villiers
Screenwriter: Janet van Eeden (South Africa)

A Shot at the Big Time is the coming-of-age story of a young South African man forced into military conscription during the apartheid regime. The film draws from the rebellious sounds of late 1980s rock and roll to portray the spirit of defiance of the End Conscription Campaign.

Highly accomplished Kwazulu-Natal based screenwriter and scriptwriting teacher, Janet van Eeden is a writer and co-producer in this project. Co-producer Magda M Olchawska is an independent filmmaker and children’s book author whose short films have won numerous awards in the festival circuit. Stephen de Villiers is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

The Visit

Country: South Africa
Producer: Imraan Jeeva, Omar Khan
Director: Nadia Davis
Screenwriter: Nadia Davids (South Africa)

The Visit weaves the story of a family across time, place and space reflecting on the defiant resolve of revolutionary action, the alienation and anguish of exile and the sometimes tenuous, often strong bonds of family.

Imraan Jeeva is a financial consultant and producer and holds a Bachelor of Business Science from the University of Cape Town. He has produced the award-winning short films Passion Gap and Classified Love. Omar Khan is an actor and producer with two feature films in development. He runs private equity investment firm Ichor Capital along with Jeeva. Nadia Davis is a writer and director with a PhD in Drama from the University of Cape Town. She currently lectures at Queen Mary, University of London and is working on her first novel.

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