Impromptu adventuring, exploring our backyard and then putting pen to paper, hoping to entice you to try one, if not all, of our escapades, is my true reward!
Compelling, intriguing and thought-provoking cinema
Sydney is the third city, after Vancouver and Toronto, to launch the South African Film Festival, showcasing and focusing on the best of South African films. The selection of films for the inaugural Sydney South African Film Festival will be a presentation of features as well as documentaries, that explore the culture, history and politics of South Africa - outstanding films that will entertain and inform.
Sydney is the third city to launch the South African Film Festival
The Sydney South African Film Festival is a not-for-profit event that has been organised in its entirety by volunteers. All proceeds from this festival go to supporting the important educational development work that Education without Borders has been doing in South Africa since 2002. ALL donations to Education without Borders (Australia) are tax deductible through a partnership with Australian NGO, Global Development Group. Funds are closely monitored ensuring transparency and accountability.
South Africa is a land of great beauty, tragedy, vibrancy, complexity, humanity and colour. With its diverse population, rich tradition of struggle for democracy and equality and complex political and economic reality, the country has produced some outstanding cinema.
The acclaimed Liyana has won more than thirty jury and audience awards, having been screened at more than one hundred film festivals around the world.
Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, Liyana is the story of five orphaned children who come from Eswatini in Swaziland. In this animated African tale, the children collaborate to tell a story drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Liyana is a story of perseverance, a tribute to creativity whilst depicting the strength of the human spirit and the healing power of storytelling. The children's fictional character is Liyana, who is brought to life in innovative, animated artwork as she embarks on a dangerous journey to rescue her young twin brothers. The children's real and imagined worlds begin to converge and they must choose what kind of story they will tell - a fictional one or their own life story.
What the critics say about Liyana
"GORGEOUS. Unlike any documentary you've ever seen before." Entertainment "BRILLIANT. POWERFUL. The world desperately needs to see more stories like this."Shadow and Act "A lyrical work that's as bright and captivating as it is poignant." The Hollywood Reporter
A group of four young friends go on a camping trip in High Fantasy. Their destination is an isolated farm in South Africa's Northern Cape. These four friends are all in their early 20's and recent graduates of university and the national Fees Must Fall protests that brought South African universities to a standstill between 2015 and 2017. They film their journey and arrival, selfie-style, with the farm's barren landscape as the backdrop.
The friends camp out and awake to find that during the night all four of them have swapped bodies. Their reactions vary from disgust to horror to excitement, but one thing is agreed upon, they cannot go home like this. The stage in High Fantasy has been set for comedy to turn to tragedy and for the fantasy of the Rainbow Nation to become a painful awakening.
What the critics say about High Fantasy
"Short Film, 'High Fantasy', uses Body Swapping To Explore Race Relations In South Africa"Odunayo Eweniyi Konbini.com "The Verge's TIFF 2017 Awards"Tasha Robinson The Verge "'High Fantasy' shot all on an iPhone 7 tackles race, gender & class in post-apartheid South Africa"Nella Fitzgerald Shadow and Act "'High Fantasy' is an artistic & intimate body-swap drama"Andrew Crump The Playlist "'High Fantasy' Is High In Quality, And One Of The Year's Best Films"Edgar Chaput Goombastomp
Whispering Truth to Power is the nail-biting story of Thuli Madonsela's final year in office as South Africa's Public Protector. A Public Protector is South Africa's version of an ombudsman and is mandated by the South African Constitution to protect ordinary citizens from corruption and bad governance on the part of the State. After successfully challenging the then-President Zuma for the illegal use of state funds, Thuli then faced the biggest challenge of her career - to investigate, whilst receiving protests, death threats and legal challenges - the alleged systematic takeover of government by a private family, who were in cahoots with the President.
After the showing of Whispering Truth to Power, a celebratory party will be held in the function room at the event. Guests will get to enjoy South African food, drinks and entertainment, all included in the price of $60. This special event will also include a short auction - think 'safari' - plus silent auction items. Entertainment will include ex Zimbabwean, Australian Idol, Madiba and Lion King performer, Tarisai Vushe.
Elise Fernandez, a film maker and exceptionally spirited lady, will elaborate on the inspiring story of Education without Borders, the charity supported by the Sydney South African Film Festival.
Beyond the River is inspired by the true story of the nail-biting adventure of Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks, who together won gold in the 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon.
Duma is a talented young man who feels trapped and finds himself on the wrong side of the law. After a near-miss with the police, Duma finds an escape in the world of canoeing. Steve is a nine-time Dusi gold medallist, whose marriage is on the verge of collapse. Through a series of unexpected events, these two men find themselves attempting the three day Dusi Canoe Marathon as a doubles pair.
What the critics say about Beyond the River
"It's not just for canoeing people, it's for everyone. Everyone who goes to see it is going to have a really amazing film experience."Grant Swanby "It's a true South African story. You'll see a lot of different sides of South Africa and the country."Lemogang Tsipa "The film is quite different. I can't think of too many films like it. It's got a feel-good side to it, but it has also got a lot of depth. People who've seen it have responded to the story, the film itself, the actors, the landscapes. People will enjoy this movie."Freimond
Ellen: Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies - the story of Ellen Pakkies - is based on true events and tells the story of a troubled relationship between a mother and her drug-addicted son - a relationship that will eventually drive her to the edge and lead to his murder.
Ellen is the distressing account of a mother put through the penal system, having been tried for murder and driven by her unfaltering love for her son. It delves into the inner psyche of a family torn apart by drugs in one of the most dangerous communities in South Africa.
Glory Game is the life story of Joost van der Westhuizen, a former South African Springbok rugby union captain, who's life was always in the public eye. Joost went from fame on the rugby field to a scandalous fall from grace and then was diagnosed with the crippling Motor Neuron Disease, a disease, which had no regard for his former triumphs, and once again exposed him to the world in his fight for survival.
The Glory Game is a story of a modern day warrior forced to face his own human frailty; who discovers that beyond fame and success lies the true wealth of life and shows that within a ravaged body can surge the spirit of a survivor.
Joost van der Westhuizen passed away on 6 February 2017.
Nommer 37 is a tense thriller inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's film-noir classic 'Rear Window'. Award-winning South African writer-director Nosipho Dumisa makes her feature debut in Nommer 37 and ratchets up the tension until it crackles. Nommer 37 is the story of a paraplegic man and his girlfriend who play a risky game of cat and mouse when they blackmail a powerful criminal, whilst evading a sadistic loan shark.
What the critics say about Nommer 37
" the sadistically intricate rapport between Randall and Pam [is] the main draw here. The further they sink into their spiralling criminal scheme, the deeper their passion for each other grows, and it's quite thrilling to watch."Keith Uhlich The Hollywood Reporter "Nosipho Dumisa has paid tribute to a classic, while simultaneously building something completely her own. Hitchcock would be proud." Aaron B. Peterson The Hollywood Outsider " a slick and entertaining film with gutsy performances " Kwanele Sosibo Mail and Guardian " a brave and bold directorial debut . about greed, loyalty, love and redemption."Masego Panyane IOL " slick execution and impressive acting the cinematographer is the opposite of immobile, his camera sweeping the teeming courtyard between apartment buildings and sneaking through narrow hallways and stairwells."Jeannette Catsoulis New York Times
Kanarie - Canary - is a coming-of-age war musical about a small town boy, Johan Niemand, who gets called up for military service in 1985, at the age of 18 in South Africa. He auditions in the army and is accepted to the South African Defence Force Choir called the 'Canaries'.
On tour Johann falls in love with a fellow choir member and starts to question himself and his world. Johann's emerging creativity and passion for music leads to direct conflict with his commanding officers in the Defence Force.
What the critics say about Kanarie
" one of those rare gems . laced with provocative arguments about religion, patriotism and sexuality . one of the best South African movies in years."Peter Feldman The Citizen "God and country and Culture Club all figure in [this] South African musical drama . the film never turns preachy, wisely maintaining its focus on one young man's awakening "The Hollywood Reporter "Kanarie is . a heartwarming and affecting tale that in one moment will have you singing along, and in another will have you tearing up with its powerful performances."Theolin Tembo Cape Argus " a quirky, emotive, magnetic and breathtaking screenplay . hones in on two sensitive subjects: the weaponisation of Christianity as military propaganda and the silencing of homosexuality." Zaza Hlalethwa Mail and Guardian
Collectively the film screenings at the Sydney South African Film Festival are sure to be compelling, intriguing, thought-provoking, interesting and uplifting and will definitely appeal to a wide audience of film-lovers. Movie buffs will be entertained, touched and informed.
All images courtesy of South African Film Festival Facebook and www.ssaff.org.au