The Durban International Film Festival is here

It's that time of year again. The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is here.

This year marks the 32nd anniversary of South Africa's oldest and biggest film festival. From tomorrow - 21 to 31 July - locals will be treated to 10 days of screenings in cinemas across the city, as well as events, workshops, and of course, being coastal Durban, that always appropriate film festival within a film festival, surfing-themed Wavescape.

Alternatively, you can download just the feature film schedule and profiles, or read more about the festival's documentaries here.

From my perspective it's a bit of a so-so year for DIFF. I was hoping for recent Cannes talking pieces like sex drama Sleeping Beauty, mom-son psychological tale We Need To Talk About Kevin and Lars von Trier's latest, Melancholia. However, in their absence, there are still about ten or so high profile films I'm curious to watch at DIFF. Shortlisting down to five, these are the big guns I think will be worth catching:

1) The Tree of Life: The latest from acclaimed director Terrence Malick, this existentialist drama examines the meaning of life through the experiences of a Texan family during the 1950s. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star. Earlier this year the film won the Palme d'Or, the highest prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

2) Inside Job: This documentary won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards. It explores how the corruption and greed of the financial sector resulted in the 2007 - 2010 financial crisis.

3) In A Better World: This Danish drama comes from multi-award winning Susanne Bier and deals with the issues of idealism, violence and retribution in suburban Denmark. The film won the Best Foreign Language Film award at both the 2011 Golden Globes and Oscars.

4) Otelo Burning: The big South African premiere of the festival is this tale of township youths who, during the dying days of Apartheid, find escape and empowerment through surfing. Of course the concept of "personal upliftment through sport" is very tired (thank God it's not soccer!), but this could be a rousing coming-of-age drama.

5) Rubber: A VERY quirky French horror flick about a sentient tyre that rolls around California using telekinesis to explode people's heads. It all sounds so wonderfully odd, deliciously silly and deliberately Z-grade.

Catch you at the fest!


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