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19 September 2008



The Apollo Film Festival

Victoria West is a small dorp with not a mountain nor snow in sight. Blink and you might miss it and the small herd of sheep, lazily chomping the sparse vegetation on the never-ending road to Kimberley. There is nothing physical that prompts a comparison between this quiet village in the semi-desert of the Karoo and the bustling ski resort in Utah, USA. But without their respective film festivals, no one would have heard of either of these small little cultural gems.

At Sundance, they celebrate American independent films. At Apollo, they celebrate South Africa’s very latest fillums. For both Festivals a deep and abiding love of film and a dedication to exploring the profound visions of indie filmmakers has placed them firmly on the must-attend list of each country’s film-watching community. Nowhere else in South Africa can you literally immerse yourself in the delights and heartbreaks of the silver screen for an entire, uninterrupted long weekend.

Our very own Sundance is taking place in Victoria West at and around the beautiful Apollo Theatre (one of the country’s last remaining Art Deco cinemas still in use) from the 2nd to the 5th October 2008. This year, the annual celebration of South African cinema worships 9 features, 14 documentaries and 24 short films.

As an unfettered reflection of South Africa’s reality, the award-winning features in this year’s line-up reflect the contrasts of the South African experience – from the life-altering addiction of the slots in Confessions of a Gambler to being transformed from teen nerd to rugby hero in Bakgat. The downfall and ultimate redemption of one of the nation’s most respected figures is explored in Hansie, while the mean, gansta-packed streets of Hillbrow echoes throughout Jerusalema. In the period romantic drama, Land of Thirst, the timeless influence of the Karoo weaves its magic, whilst technological savvy and stunning artistry mix in South Africa’s first stop-frame animation feature, Tengers.

Opening the festival on Thursday, 2nd October is Triomf, the new offering from Michael Raeburn and, some would say, his tour de force. Set in 1994, five days after South Africa’s first democratic election, he introduces the world to the highly dysfunctional Benade family who live in the poor white suburb that was built on the ruins of the legendary Sophiatown. Unavoidably dark, but also very funny, Triomf relentlessly pursues the tensions and finds the subsequent humour in our collective past. Triomf is based on the award-winning novel (M-Net Prize, CAN Prize, Noma Prize) of the same name by Marlene van Niekerk.

Detailing the past and present is the irrepressible lens of the documentary filmmaker. Confronting all manner of universal issues, that include the imprint of war, the dream of marriage, and the separate pursuits of meaning, identity, fear, happiness, spirituality and yes, even sports, this year’s catalogue of documentaries catapults us into lives of the individual. Deep in the Karoo, we explore a love of lions in Daniel and our Cats, cement our identity in Inanda, My Heritage, and define the moment with a game of football on Robben Island in More Than Just a Game and examine the lasting psychological damage of the border war in Betrayed.

The directors and producers attending the festival to participate in the Q&A’s after the screenings include; Junaid Ahmed of More Than Just a Game, Frans Cronje of Hansie, Rina Jooste of Betrayed, Tendeka Matatu of Jerusalema, Asivhanzi ‘Asi’ Mathaba of Walk like A Man, Tiny Mungwe of Akekho Ugogo, Meg Rickards of Land of Thirst, Michael J. Rix of Tengers and Dylan Valley of Hip Hopera.

This year the enviable task of watching and judging all this talent falls on Tonight Senior film writer Theresa Smith, world renowned filmmaker Khalo Matabane, and award winning director/producer Bridget Pickering. The Apollo Film Festival is sponsored by the National Film and Video Foundation and implemented by the Encounters Documentary Film Festival, with the support of Apollo Theatre, Durban International Film Festival, Northern Cape Tourism, and the Tourism Enterprise Programme.

Get there by hook or by shepherd’s crook. However you do get there, it will be a long weekend worth the distance travelled in body, mind and soul.

Reggie Zamuxolo Khanzi
Festival Director
Cell: 082 583 4709

Mandisa Zitha
Tel: (021) 465 4686

Apollo Festival Hotline: 082 858 2015



After almost a month of cinema screenings across 4 cities, the 6th Annual Tri Continental Film Festival successfully concluded in Durban on the 11th of September 2008. This year’s festival reached new heights and continued to grow audiences for compelling cinema from the global South focussing on pressing human rights issues. Worthy of particular mention this year were the screenings of 9 short films completed over a two month period in the run up the festival’s opening in the mid-August, under the banner, Filmmakers Against Racism, (web and blog) commissioned by the Human Rights Media Trust examining the appalling xenophobic attacks that marred the South African landscape in May this year. These short films explored the motivation and social context behind these attacks, the lives of foreign nationals in the aftermath of these attacks, particularly under extremely harsh conditions in temporary refugee camps, the challenges of reintegration, and the inadequate response of public officials.

Each year the Tri Continental Film Festival runs an audience award for recognition of the festival’s outstanding film, outstanding South African film and outstanding short film. We wish to announce that 2008 Tri Continental Film Festival audience award for best film goes to Mick Davie’s The Choir. Filmed over 6 years, this inspirational documentary follows the life of young fellow Jabulani Shabangu as he joins the Leeukop prison choir thus beginning his journey towards self-redemption and eventual release from prison. Along this journey, the film introduces other inspirational personalities notably, Coleman Mgododlo, the choir master whose love and leadership to the juvenile offenders, not only leads these young men to victory in the annual inter-prison choir competition but teaches them invaluable life lessons for survival beyond South Africa’s prison walls. Controversial and emotionally charged, Davie’s The Choir was embraced by South African audiences and is a worthy winner on this year’s audience award for outstanding film.

In the category best South African film, the audience award this year goes to Tapologo, a South African and Spanish co-production directed by Gabriela & Sally Gutierrez Dewar which explores the impact of South Africa’s mining boom on the labour camps that support the industry and the often brutal realities facing woman in these communities. Freedom Park squatter camp, situated in the Northwest province, accommodates a migrant workforce that mines the world’s single largest source of platinum, and the women in the community service the needs of the male miners as a means of basic survival. A group of HIV-infected former sex-workers have created a network called Tapologo, and have learnt to be home based care-workers transforming degradation into solidarity and hope. This rare film provides a humanising and honest lens to the courageous work of community activists working under desperate conditions.

In the category of best short film, audiences chose Okepne Ojang, Kyle O’Donoghue and Miki Redlinghuys’ humorous and compelling Congo My Foot. Created as part of the Filmmakers Against Racism series, this 24 minute piece tells the story of Tino La Musica, a Congolese band based in Cape Town that is displaced and evicted from their homes at the time of the xenophobic attacks this past May. As narrated by Ojang, an immigrant to South Africa from Cameroon, the film shows the trauma facing foreign nations as they seek to piece their lives together and find future direction in the fall out of the xenophobic attacks. Tino La Musica’s uplifting rhythms and ultimate reunion provide an inspiration backdrop to the ethnic tensions that continue to simmer throughout the nation.

The festival wishes to thank all the filmmakers and particularly South African audiences for their tremendous support over the past month of screenings. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our cooperating partners. The Human Rights Media Trust, Lawyers for Human Rights, SACOD, The Mail and Guardian, Cinema Nouveau Screened by Fish Eagle, Breakthrough, Out of Frame, Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Encounters SA International Documentary Festival.

Finally, the festival would not have been possible without the support and partnership of the National Film and Video Foundation, SABC, Gauteng Film Office, Timberland, MNET, The Swedish Embassy, The Italian Cultural Institute, The Mexican Embassy and Spectrum Visual Networks.



Free screening of 'My Name is Joe' tonight at The Labia Theatre, Cape Town

Tonight there will be a free screening of Steven Ellis's 43 minute documentary My Name Is Joe (recently shown at the Durban Film Festival) 6:30 pm at the Labia Theater, Cape Town (68 Orange Street).

Jose is a hardworking, determined and affable young Congolese man. Fleeing home to preserve his security and perhaps his life, his travels lead him through various jobs: illegal diamond-mining, car-guarding, security and bar-work. In this cheery and engaging film, he talks us through his adventures as a refugee, showing the hard side of life in the beautiful city of Cape Town, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How can I purchase this documentary?