South Africa’s longest-running film festival, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced its opening and closing film. The opening film The Eagle’s Nest, directed by award-winning Cameroonian born British-based Olivier Assoua, is an action-thriller on migration and poverty.
Set in Africa, during a night of debauchery, best friends Paris and Samantha discover R5 million. Later, a thief breaks into Paris’s house, kills her mother, her sister and leaves her for dead. When she recovers, and with the help of Samantha, Paris sets off on a quest to find answers.
What begins as a search for the truth quickly turns into violence and disturbing revelations. In a world of lies, deceit and betrayal they try to uncover the identity of the murderer.
Assoua said he was thrilled and honoured to have his film open the festival. “It is such a privilege to be following in the footsteps of the talented filmmakers who came before me. The Eagle’s Nest, is an honest take on the politics of modern-day immigration and the persistent rural poverty in Africa.
“My aim with the film project was to shed light on those issues and be part of the solution by offering a platform for young Africans to gain new skills in front and behind the camera.
“I hope this film will entertain the viewers as well as bring my vision to light,” Assoua said.
Chipo Zhou, head of programming at DIFF said the film was chosen because it is a topical critique of current emigration politics.“It tells a tale that is highly accessible from an African perspective. It raises questions on the brain drain and how to make the continent habitable for future generations,” Zhou said.
Starring Felicity Asseh and Claude S Mbida Nkou, two compelling female leads, Zhou said it’s difficult not to sympathise with their desire to flee patriarchal abuse after seeing it depicted. “We’re looking forward to the discussions that will no doubt ensue after the screening of the film,” said Zhou.
Closing the festival is an autobiographical documentary made by Brazilian director Coraci Ruiz titled Threshold. It tells the story of a mother who follows the gender transition of her adolescent son.
Between 2016 and 2019, she interviews him, addressing the conflicts, certainties and uncertainties that pervade him in a deep search for his identity.
At the same time, the mother, revealed through first-person narration and by her voice behind the camera that talks to her son, also goes through a process of transformation required by the situation that life presents her with, by breaking old paradigms, facing fears, and dismantling prejudices.
The autobiographic documentary follows three generations of a family in their struggle for self-determination against the backdrop of the Brazilian government’s authoritarian rise.
This year, the curatorial vision facilitates a platform that celebrates the disruption of the embedded canonical film. The festival deliberately cultivates indigenous talent development and grants access to audiences and aspirant filmmakers, particularly women, children, LGBTQI+ communities in highly conservative regions of the world.
The festival runs from July 22 to August 1 and will be available on their website. Tickets for the virtual screenings are free and open through a booking system two days ahead of the event.