Cinema Film Fest: a feast of themes, epochs and cultures

Film Fest: a feast of themes, epochs and cultures

This year’s Film Festival is pulled together by veteran curator Trevor Steele Taylor, with a unique range of themes, epochs and cultures that sheds light on the pressing issues of our time. Through this diverse array Steele Taylor shows that great films are an artistic and social obligation.

Film Festival guest director Pablo César with cinematographer Abel Peñalba. Photo: Mike César

Film Festival guest director Pablo César with cinematographer Abel Peñalba. Photo: Mike César

“In the current climate, entertainment has no place,” he says. “These films have social relevance, and they have to have.

“Great filmmakers usually have something to say about the social climate,” he says, adding that mainstream cinema has become “a sop – used to take people’s minds off of social situations instead of showing their relevance”.

Steele Taylor says he included Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini for the overt stand that his films, such as Arabian Nights (1974), take against capitalism.

“If Pasolini was alive today he would have been involved in the battle with aspects of our [capitalist] movement,” he says.

One thread of this year’s film selection takes us through the battleground of getting films made and the difficulty in getting the message across. This is highlighted in films like David Gregory’s Lost Soul (2014), which follows the journey of director Richard Stanley in his doomed attempt to make The Island of Dr Moreau.

Another thread looks at how South American and South African films show connections between the geographical ‘south’. They illustrate how co-production connects us to other cultures to merge, reflect and create a synergy.

Argentinian Pablo César is guest director at this year’s Festival. César has shot nine feature films — such as The Gods of Water (2015) —entirely on traditional 35mm film. Steele Taylor believes the new wave of digital technology is slowly destroying our knowledge and remembrance of 35mm and the organic artistry that film once had.

Another distinctive aspect of this year’s Festival is the ‘Old Films, New Music’ category that has classic silent films being screened with contemporary soundtracks, two of them performed live.

Pieter-Dirk Uys is celebrated with the showing of three films starring the legendary satirist — one which will be introduced by his alter-ego Evita Bezuidenhout — while the Bioscope at Fingo Village contrasts apartheidera films like the first Zulu western, Umbango (1975), with films such as Rights of Passage: Love and Loss in the time of Mandela (2015). “Although there is a global way to tell stories, how we perceive the differences and interpret them is what is so important,” says Film Festival coordinator Cedric Sundstrom.

Sundstrom says with Afrikaans cinema on the rise, they have included a tribute to film legend Jans Rautenbach. His Katrina (1969) and Jannie Totsiens (1970) will be screened, as well as the hugely anticipated Abraham (2014), which Rautenbach produced 35 years after his previous film.

Auteur Jans Rautenbach. Photo: Brendan Croft

Auteur Jans Rautenbach. Photo: Brendan Croft

Jesamé Geldenhuys

Cue student reporter

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