South Africa, particularly in the east coast city of Durban, comes alive with film every July, and 2018 is no exception. The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) has become one of the top film festivals in Africa since its inception 1979. The South African showcase of local, continental and international films began on Thursday and ends this week. Celebrating its 39th anniversary, the DIFF will screen over 200 feature, documentary and short films from across the globe at different venues across Durban, including townships and prisons. This year’s edition opened with a celebration of South African womanhood and a commitment to diversity in the film by showcasing Jerome Pikwane’s The Tokoloshe.
The festival’s opening coincided with #MadibaDay and commemorated the 100th anniversary the birth of Nelson Mandela.
This year the Zimbabwe Film Industry have every reason to be ecstatic, as ‘Cook Off’ premiered at this year’s festival. The Joe Njagu and Tomas Brickhill produced short film had its continental premiere at DIFF on Saturday the 21st, it will also be showing on the 27th and the 29th of July. The film features rising Zimbabwean star Tendaishe ‘Tendai’ Chitima who is the main actress, Hip-hop artist Tehn Diamond and the much-beloved Jesesi Mungoshi of Neria fame.
The film which was first screened late last year in December at a homemade cinema is a healthy dose of romantic comedy with the main act ‘Anesu’ whose life has come to a standstill, with a dead-end cooking job, no romantic prospects, and her mother criticising her every move.
Perfectly aligning itself with the main focus that this year’s festival has on women, it is about a school dropout and single mother, who constantly feels her mother’s judgment. When her young son Tapiwa and grandmother enter her name in a competitive cooking TV show Battle of the Chefs, Anesu makes it on to the show and is the only non-professional chef, but things start to look up as she cooks her way through round after round of elimination.
Cook Off is a film of firsts; early this year it became the first Zimbabwean film to be screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR) in 22 years. There, it was positioned 38th out of 187 films in the Audience Awards in 2018. The film is also the first Zimbabwean feature film ever to be selected to showcase at the Seattle International Film Festival which took place in May.
— Tomas Lutuli Brickhill (@TomasLutuli) July 20, 2018
Arguably the continent’s biggest film event, DIFF is a ten-day celebration of world-class cinema which screens new feature films, documentary and short films from around the globe with a special focus on African film. DIFF is organized by the Centre for Creative Arts which is based at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKNZ).