Made with the support of the NFVF, The Shore Break, Unearthed and The Dream of Shahrazad were selected to appear at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the world's largest and most prestigious international documentary film festival.
The Shore Break will compete in the First Appearance category which supports talented emerging filmmakers releasing their first or second film. Fifteen documentaries from different corners of the globe, short-listed from hundreds of entries, will be evaluated by a five-member international jury for this honour. IDFA takes place in Amsterdam from 19 to 30 November 2014.
The Shore Break follows two cousins from a close-knit rural community who have opposing plans for developing their land on South Africa's Wild Coast. It deals with the universal themes of family, love, betrayal and homeland - and the fundamental conflict between tradition and modernity. It is a beautiful, poetic and dramatic creative documentary with moments of humour for light relief. With compelling characters, beautiful cinematography, and sand animations it draws the viewer into the complex and mysterious world of the Wild Coast.
The Shore Break is an all South African production. Director Ryley Grunenwald fell in love with the Wild Coast as a child and has spent intensive periods of time there to capture events as they unfolded. According to co-producer Odette Geldenhuys, the beauty of The Shore Break is not only in its depiction of the rugged splendour of the Wild Coast, but also in the way the film deals on a very human level with the complex question, 'what is development?'
Both Ryley and Odette will attend IDFA, Ryley as part of the Documentary Filmmakers Association (DFA) delegation, which is made possible by the DTI Sector Specific Assistance Scheme, and Odette's attendance is supported by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).
The Dream of Shahrazad and Unearthed are appearing in the non-competitive programme. The Dream of Shahrazad, directed by Francois Verster, is a feature-length documentary film which locates political expression before, during and after the Egyptian revolution - and also within recent times in Turkey and Lebanon - within a broader historical and cultural framework: that of storytelling and music. More particularly, it looks at the legacy of the famous collection of stories known as the 1001 (or "arabian") nights.
Using the metaphor of Shahrazad - the princess in the Nights who saves lives by telling stories to the murderous Sultan Shahriyar - and filmed before, during and after the so-called "Arab Spring", it weaves together a web of music, politics and storytelling to explore the ways in which creativity and political articulation coincide in response to oppression.
A series of unforgettable characters all draw their inspiration from the Nights and, like Shahrazad, put creativity to new political use. A charismatic conductor uses Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade suite as a tool for political education, leading up to a final performance at Istanbul's Topkapi Palace - and, in time, to the Gezi Park protests of 2013. A young Lebanese woman makes peace with her past by learning the art of storytelling in Egypt and becomes an Internet activist in the process.
This richly kaleidoscopic film is at once observational documentary, concert film, political meditation and visual translation of an ever-popular symphonic and literary classic. It is a documentary homage both to the Nights and the Scheherazade suite, as well as a rethinking of the ways in which powerful historical and cultural archetypes interact with political change.
Unearthed, an independent South African feature documentary, investigates fracking in the United States - the technology's place of origin - in order to understand what this new method of gas extraction could mean for the semi-arid Karoo and other countries that are considering its implementation.
The film covers the extensive journey that Karoo born director, Jolynn Minnaar, took - 18 months of research; over 400 interviews; traveling across South Africa, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to get to the bottom of the controversial topic.
Unearthed challenges the assertion that hydraulic fracturing is a safe, time-tested technology and questions whether shale gas is the solution for our energy-hungry world.