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Durban Film Festival


The good, the bad and the ugly

Day 2 of DIFF was a day of extremes. It was wonderful to see all the film fans studying their guides - some of the guides visibly well-read.
I watched three films today and they are very diverse. Chicken with plums (Poulet aux prunes) premiered at Venice. It is a beautiful love story of a musician, played by Mathieu Amalric of The Diving Belle and the butterfly fame, who can't get over the loss of his violin and he decides to rather die. It sounds like a depressing film but it is in fact very funny, boasts a beautiful soundtrack and the acting is superior.
By the way chicken with plums is his favourite dish and it has always made his day before. This is a feel good movie with just a small political swipe. Isabella Rossellini plays the matriarch. Pity the filmmaker wasn't in attendance. It is my second 10 of the festival and I recommend that you see it at its next screening at Sneddon on 26 July.
The loneliest planet held so much promise - a love story set in Georgia and starring Gael Garcia Bernal of Motorcycle Diaries fame. The film started 30 mins late which gave director Julia Loktev time to tell the audience it is a film about hiking and feeling alienated while traveling in a foreign country. She didn't say that the Georgian would be without subtitles as it "does not add to the story". I did not engage with the characters. The first 90 mins of the film mainly show the couple and their guide hiking and very little
intrigue. The last few minutes had some surprises, but by that time the audience felt more alienated than the hikers. The countryside is breathtaking though. The director was very uncomfortable during the q&a as the reaction from the audience was very negative. I give it a 5 and would not recommend it to anyone. It's next screening is at Nouveau on 25 July. See it if you dare.
Shadow Dancer starring Clive Owen is a top whodunit set in Belfast during the Troubles. It is a hard hitting psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat with top acting, good photography and the music
adds to the suspense. Andrea Riseborough as Collette also delivers a great performance. I hope it comes on circuit as it deserves a wider audience.
It was made by the same director who made the fascinating Man on Wire. I give it a 9. You can still catch this film at Nouveau on 28 July.
Hats off to the organisers for the design of the show reel. One-dimensional, bland people become vibrant,.colourful 3D characters once they enter the big screen. So true.
Day 3 is a day to behold with two festival winners - Sundance favourite Beasts of the southern wild and Michael Haneke's Amour, winner of the Palm d'Or. Beasts and Amour are both in competition. Tabu, also in competition , and DIFF darling Brilliante Mendoza's latest film Captive are also on the menu. I've met Brilliante at a previous DIFF and this young man from Manila has won many awards, including best director at Cannes.

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