The Durban International Film Festival announced its award winners on Saturday 31 July during the live Facebook award ceremony of the festival’s 42nd edition. The news comes as the festival wraps up a fantastic year, with a huge increase in online attendance. CCA Director Ismail Mahomed says of this year’s event: “I was delighted with the success of DIFF 2021, and it was very gratifying to view a large number of streams and also to see the huge enthusiasm from our South African audiences for the festival.”
The Centre for Creative Arts created three new award categories in the spirit of being an advocate for democracy, human rights, social justice, creative education, and universal access to the arts.“We want to award recognition to filmmakers, organisations, and institutions who share in our commitment to engage the cinematic arts to grow, mature and defend our democracy,” says Mahomed.
Sunshine Cinema, a mobile cinema project, won the inaugural DIFF Promoting Access to Cinema Award for their remarkable work bringing sustainable and free screenings to mostly community settings. STEPS, a non-profit media business, earned the inaugural DIFF Film in Education award for creating over 100 documentaries for a variety of public education projects. The DIFF Human Rights Award was given to filmmaker Enver Samuel for creating documentaries that helped document the lives of South African human rights legends while also highlighting the need for a thorough investigation into the deaths of assassinated political leaders Dulcie September and Ahmed Timol.
From a collection of competition films that the international jury regarded as “diverse in topics and styles,” the festival’s highest honour of Best Feature Film went to Chinese director Shin Xin’s excellent A Little Bird Reminds Me during the awards ceremony. The Best Feature Film award comes with an R50 000 cash reward. “This director reminds us that sometimes less is more,” the jury said of Xin, who also won the prize for Best Director. The jury praised Xin’s picture for “having a light touch, wonderful cinematography, and a tale that unfolds refreshingly.”
The Best South African Feature Film award, which carries a prize of R25 000 was awarded to Cape Town production Sons of the Sea, directed by Jon Guttierez and produced by IPO member Khosie Dali. The jury stated that they chose the film because it “poignantly displays the power of relationships for good and evil”. Below is the complete list of awards:
Best Actor: Seounggyun An – My Son
Best Actress: Tsholo Maseko – Pusha Pressa Phanda produced by IPO member Layla Swart
Best Screenplay: My Son
Best Director: SHI Xin – A Little Bird Reminds Me
Best South African Feature Film: Sons of the Sea produced by IPO member Khosie Dali
Best Feature Film: A Little Bird Reminds Me
Artistic Bravery: Pusha Pressa Panda produced by IPO member Layla Swart
Best South African Documentary: I Am Here
Best South African Documentary: Murder in Paris
Best Documentary: Downstream to Kinshasa
Best South African Short Film: Shaka Inkosi Yamakhosi
Best African Short Film: What Did You Dream?
Best Short Film: Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
Amnesty Durban Human Rights Award: I, Mary executive produced by IPO member Neil Brandt
DIFF Human Rights Award: Enver Samuel
DIFF Film In Education Award: STEPS
DIFF Access to Cinema Award: Sunshine Cinema