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Durban International Film Festival offers world cinema in South Africa

Durban in full swing

I have arrived yesterday 28 July and what a day it was! Flying in from Johannesburg was memorable as I saw two South African singing sensations making out at the drop-off. They can be compared to Bollywood stars as they have just starred in a local film together called Jakhalsdans where they fell in love on the set! It was something to behold to see thse two kissing as they would have been arrested in places like Dubai. The flight down - just under 50 mins - was routine and then Durban hit me - the beautiful new airport, the friendly staff of the film festival and the heat! In Joburg it is still winter and in KZN with its tropical climate, it is 28 degrees. Needless to say, I got rid of the jacket so quickly. As the film festival staff at the airport were waiting for Oliver Schmitz, SA born director of Life, above all, and he hadn't arrived yet, I scored to lift to my holiday flat. My DIFF experience kicked off, and I was ready for the ride.  After visiting Sharlene Versfeld, media liaison officer at the Royal Hotel to pick up my press card, I was ready and the games started at 6pm with the screening of Ana Kokkinos' Blessed, a hard-hitting day in the life of screwed up Melbourne teens and their equally confused mothers.  The director is famous for her screen realism in Head On and now Blessed. I will score it a 7 due to its fantastic characters. It has the feel of a Coen Bros masterpiece. I enjoyed the film, but it didn't move me as much as I thought it would. Winter's Bone, however, did! This Sundance winer is a cold-blooded psychological thriller set in an equally bleak landscape. The main character, Jennifer Lawrence as Ree Dolly, must be one of the finds of the future. She plays a teenager who has to fend for her family against all odds. The film scores a 9. The third, and last, film of my Day 1, was Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen. I am a huge fan of the Turkish-German director with films such as Head On and Edge of Heaven. All his films portray a multicultural Germany and in this comedy it is set to a soul beat. Again, wonderful characters. Akin's latest masterpiece scores a very intelligent 8. As I was walking back to my flat after midnight and marvelled at the musical fountain on the beachfront that wasn't here last year, I was telling myself that I will hopefully see the allusive 10. I gave the full score to Lars von Trier's Antichrist in 2009. Day 2 holds such gems as Brotherhood, a gay Nazi film, in-competition Amreeka about how hard it is to be an immigrant in the USA, and The Ape, a film abot a man's personal journey into hell.  To sign off, Winter's Bone will be screened again on 30 July at 20:30 and Soul Kitchen's second screening is on 1 August at 18:00.

I can't wait for Day 2 and hopefully I can include some pictures.