For years now the identity of this festival, and all the festivals organised by the Centre for Creative Arts, has centred around a celebration and exploration of cultural diversity. Exposure to other cultures enriches our life experience and enhances our own humanity, for it is in relation to others that we discover our own identity. But the recent outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa highlighted just how fragile the interface between different cultures can be. Xenophobia has its roots in a field of other causes: challenges around migration, racism, competition for resources and jobs etc, and it is also a symptom of the insecurity felt by locals, especially those on the fringes of society, who themselves live in vulnerable environments of poverty. It is a terrible irony that the modern world aggressively seeks to open up borders for trade in products, but just as aggressively makes it difficult for people wishing to cross those same borders.
The Durban International Film Festival is unable to solve all these problems, but the medium of film is a multi-dimensional tool which helps us gain insight into other cultures, and the films we show allow a migration of the mind, a first step towards tolerance, understanding and improved human relations. With the wide-ranging selection of issue-based films on offer we would like you to journey, not into an escapist world, but into moments of conscientisation, reflective imagination and inspiration.
In 2008, DIFF presented films from 95 countries, most of which are not see on the circuit. Central to this exploration of different cinematic cultures are from our own country, and with production levels slightly up on 2007, this festival presented 11 South African feature films, 26 documentaries and 25 short films. The crop of productions from the rest of the continent has been a little less encouraging, and therefore it is pleasing that we are able this year to undertake the Talent Campus training project which sought applications from all around Africa, in an effort to stimulate film production in Africa. Further, filmmaking in our own province received a strong boost with the daily seminars and workshops in which the National Film and Video Foundation and the South African Broadcasting Corporation maintained a powerful presence.
The festival is a valuable meeting place for filmmakers and industry personnel and for the forging of partnerships necessary for the cohesive emergence and development of a film industry in KwaZulu-Natal. Central to the challenge is to access new creative talent into the industry. The Durban International Film Festival was pleased to contribute a facilitative role in this process and is an important showcase of established filmmaking brilliance and an incubator for emerging talent. Whether you are a filmmaker seeking business and networking opportunities, an aspirant filmmaker seeking entry into the industry, or a lover of film wanting to experience exhilarating new cinema, the festival offered something for you.