‘Mapantsula’, ‘The Mother of All Lies’ and more to showcase at DIFF 2023

Thomas Mogotlane in Mapantsula. Picture: Instagram

Thomas Mogotlane in Mapantsula. Picture: Instagram

Published Jun 8, 2023


The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) returns to Suncoast CineCentre after a three-year hiatus.

Presented by the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, the festival will showcase 90 films from 54 countries from July 20 to July 30.

The restored South African film “Mapantsula” by Oliver Schmitz, which had its world premiere in February at the Berlin film festival in the Berlinale classics section, will make its African premiere in Durban, at this year’s festival.

The original “Mapantsula” was the first anti-apartheid film that had its premiere screening at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival after the apartheid government had banned the film in South Africa.

Starring Thomas Mogotlane, Marcel van Heerden, Darlington Michaels, Peter Sephuma as Duma, Dolly Radebe and Thembi Mtshali, “Mapantsula” tells the story of Panic, a small-time thief, set against the backdrop of apartheid.

The film's use of flashbacks between Panic's time at the hands of his apartheid jailer Stander and happenings in the Joburg township of Soweto, displays the injustice black South Africans suffered during apartheid and their struggle for suffrage.

The film makes extensive use of political rallies, police brutality, and racial difference to show the effects of apartheid on black South Africans.

Some of the films to look out for at this year’s Festival include “Banel and Adama,” “Omen” and “The Mother of All Lies”, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, as well as Christian Petzold’s “Afire”.

Winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, “A Thousand and One” and the second documentary to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, “All The Beauty and Bloodshed,” are some of the films that will premiere at the festival.

“We are thrilled to bring DIFF back to life this year, allowing audiences to come together to share in these incredibly special stories, feasting on some of the best African and world cinema,” said Andrea Voges, festival manager.

The festival programme celebrates “What The Soil Remembers,” a South African documentary that won the Ammodo Tiger Short Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in February. “What The Soil Remembers” tells of the trauma of uprooted communities during apartheid.

In addition, the 6th edition of isiPhethu, a developmental programme that includes the isiZulu Scriptwriting Workshop, Industry Programme, and screenings in community centres will also take place during DIFF.

The second International Student Film Festival, the first of its kind on the continent, will showcase 30 student films from all over the world, at the KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Arts (KZNSA) free of charge.

For more information on DIFF and to view the full programme visit the Centre for the Creative Arts website.