Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mali Movie Wins at Durban Film Festival
Scene from the film Timbuktu. It was an award at the Durban
International Film Festival.
Posted by: Victor Akande  in Entertainment
Nigerian Nation

Timbuktu, a celebrated Malian film about an Islamic extremist group, has won the best feature film laurel at the just-concluded Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), South Africa. The award had a cash prize of R50 000, equivalent of N770, 496.

Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, the movie was listed for competition alongside several others, which the international jury described as having dealt with “individuals coping with ideological, social and political pressures whilst trying to find their own identity and humanity in a world increasingly under distress.”

Also from the movie, Director of Photography (DOP), Sofian el Fani, won the Best Cinematography, while the Best Actor diadem was shared between Timbuktu’s Ibrahim Ahmed and Cold Harbour’s Tony Kgoroge.

It would be recalled that for his effort on Timbuktu, Sissako was celebrated at the Cannes International Film Festival, France recently, where he shed tears, while discussing the subject of insurgency in his home country, Mali.

The filmmaker’s portrait of the unrest in Mali, captures Islamist zealots, as they ban innocent pleasures such as music and football, and throwing themselves with cold relish into lashings and stoning for adultery. The situation is not too different from the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, where innocent people are killed indiscriminately.

The story revolves around the death of a cow, affectionately named ‘GPS’, a satire for a country that has lost direction.

With visual creativity, Sissako portrays the harrowing real-life takeover of Northern Mali by Islamic fundamentalists.

The extremist group, which likens itself to puritans, appalls the local Imam, who has long upheld the existing tradition of a benevolent and tolerant Islam. The local Imam, in this movie, can’t understand why the new sect would march into the mosque, carrying arms. Even then, he thinks this defies logic. This is because besides being addicted to cruelty and bullying, these men are enslaved to their modern devices mobile phones, cars, video-cameras (for uploading jihadi videos to the Internet) and, of course, weapons. And as the filmmaker puts it, Timbuktu is no longer ‘tombouctou la mysterieuse’, the magical place of legend, but a harsh, grim, unforgiving place of bigotry and fear.

Announcing the results during the closing ceremony of DIFF last Friday, cast and crew of the movie got accolades from movie buffs, with many struggling for photo opportunities  at the Suncoast CineCentre Supernova, prior to the screening of its closing film, Million Dollar Arm.

Nigeria was also represented at the festival with films such as Half of a Yellow Sun by Biyi Bandele, B For Boy by Chika Anadu and Gone Too Far by Bola Agbaje.

The festival rounded off on a successful note, with significant increase in attendance, as many films screening were sold-out to audiences.

Festival Manager Peter Machen expressed satisfaction with the event when he said: “I was extremely happy with the success of DIFF 2014, and it was very gratifying to witness both the large amount of sold-out screenings and also the huge enthusiasm for the festival, both from local audiences and from the hundreds of guests attending the festival from around the world.”
At the ceremony, the festival unveiled its new statuette, the Golden Giraffe, designed by Durban artist, Caryn Tilbury.

Machen said of the new statuette: “We are extremely that the festival finally has an iconic award. Venice has the Golden Lion, Berlin has the Golden Bear and now Durban has the Golden Giraffe. Caryn Tilbury’s beautifully idiosyncratic design is perfectly representative of the slick but edgy nature of the festival,” he said.

The jury commended Sissako’s film for being “an impressively well-made film that makes us aware, in an extraordinarily human and gentle way, of the fight for dignity and freedom of individuals against oppression and violence. Beautifully crafted and showing mature accomplishment on all levels the film illustrates the absurdity of war and ideological dogmatism and offers humour, gentility and humaneness as a possible solution to the madness that seems to engulf so many regions in the world and on our continent. It embraces cinema as a weapon of love against violence and intolerance.”

The award for Best South African Feature Film, which carries a prize of R25 000 went to Jenna Bass’ exciting first feature Love the One You Love. The local jury stated that they chose the film “for its stylistic and narrative freshness”, calling it “a playful, quirky and idiosyncratic debut made with curiosity, warmth, heart and sensitivity.” Bass was also honoured with the prize for Best Direction in a South African Feature Film, with the jury describing the young director as “inquisitive, innovative and with a unique voice and luminous cinematic sensibility, who shows us a contemporary universe which is as imaginative as it is true”.

The accolade for Best Documentary went to Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours.  According to the jury, “This intimate, affecting and often humorous debut feature is a portrait of three generations of exile in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a Palestinian pocket of hemmed-in buildings and stifled hopes. Fleifel may have set out to tell a small domestic story about the loved ones he has left behind but the result is a powerful tale of the human cost of a political nightmare, the end of which seems very far away.”

Best South African Documentary was awarded to Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down. The film was also awarded the Amnesty International (Durban) Human Rights Award, which carries an award of R10 000 sponsored by the Artists for Human Rights Trust. The film was chosen “for its profoundly moving portrayal of the Marikana miners’ massacre. The human rights abuses so vividly portrayed include the right to life, the right to justice, the right to protection by the police, the right to know, the right to peaceful protest and the right to human dignity.”

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