Durban International Festival 2020 goes virtual

This is the first time the Durban International Festival 2020 goes virtual in its 41 year history.

As part of the introduction, the event curated a 60 film programme that touches on historical injustices and the ways in which healing and redress are applied in the 21st century. 

Durban International Festival unveiled its 2020 edition hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal alongside the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission and the US Consulate. The prestigious event is prolific to the African cultural calendar and is expected to feature the best of African cinema.

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The Programme

To actualize the event, the organizers set up a partnership with Festival Scope and Shift 72 to power their screenings. 60 short documentaries and feature films will be showcased in a manner that captures interpretation from different lenses. The idea is to point out contemporary relations to the present-day challenges faced in the world as people interrogate history with a view of remedying disenfranchised populations.

Our Lady of the Nile

Among the films that portrayed the following themes were Our Lady of the Nile which is being directed by Atiq Rahimi who is on a journey juxtaposing religion and mythology in a tale running on the backdrop of a Hutu and Tutsi conflict responsible for the devastation of Rwanda.


Overtures is another film exploring the social abundance and the historical situation of Haiti, where their legacy is slavery and the world has started to revisit and heal the wounds. Olivier Marboeuf and Louis Henderson are the directors.


Beanpole was directed by Kantemir Balagov and covers two young women after World War 2 which searches for hope and meaning in the struggle to rebuild their lives from ruins.

In Your Eyes, I See my Country

In Your Eyes, I See my Country documentary portrays a journey from Morocco where Amit Haï Cohen and Neta Elkayam reside in Jerusalem creating a band that reshapes and revisits their Jewish and Moroccan heritage. There is a display of identity duality which aims to heal the exile wounds borne by their parents. The musical narrative is captivating and might reshape the perception of who they are and what they intend to achieve.

A Rifle and a Bag

A Rifle and a Bag, directed by Cristina Haneș and Isabella Rinaldi, has another first-time director, Arya Rothe who shares an insightful love tale surviving a decade of armed violence and struggle. We get the intention of the main characters to reshape their life narrative by re-inventing themselves.


This is a short film directed by Nesanet Teshager Abegaze exploring the themes of migration, memory, and rebirth.

Encouraging young aspiring filmmakers 

While at the University of KwaZulu Natal, the organizers are on a mission to redress past imbalances and contribute to the mission through the Centre for Creative Arts via community engagement programmes such as isiPhethu. There will be drive-in screenings too where several virtual seminars and workshops will be hosted.

Among the top guest speakers are:

  • Shirley Bruno a multi-award filmmaker
  • Michal Birnbaum, a producer and actor
  • Taheim Bryan the NY based producer, writer, and director of Equal Standard.
  • Jessie Zinn South Africa born filmmaker
  • Simon Wood, award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker. 

The full programme included live streaming will be available on Virtual streaming tickets are only open for South Africans and are free. Drive-in workshops and screenings are also free and available for open booking.