Zola Maseko's adaptation of Zakes Mda's critically acclaimed novel The Whale Caller was named Best African Film at the inaugural Joburg Film Festival. The Best Film award went to Brazilian-born, Mozambican-based Licinio Azevedo's The Train of Salt and Sugar, a moving tale of life, love and survival during the civil war in Mozambique while Rehad Desai's The Giant is Falling took the honours for Best South African Film.
The Best Film award was accompanied by a cash prize of R150 000, while the winners in the Best South African and African categories each won R100 000.
The prizes, along with a Special Jury Mention for Rahmatou Keita's The Wedding Ring, were awarded on the festival's closing night at the Zone in Rosebank on Saturday, 5 November.
With over 60 films screened over nine days at venues stretching from Diepsloot to Alexandra to Soweto, the Joburg Film Festival made a powerful impression on debut, giving local audiences the chance to see cutting-edge new cinema, including 6 world and 26 African premieres.
The 12 films in competition at the festival included powerful new films from the continent, including Akin Omotoso's Vaya, Daouda Coulibaly's Wulu, Joseph Adesunyole's White Color Black, and Mbithi Masya's Kati Kati.
And some of Africa's top film industry names were among the jury members, including South African actress and producer Terry Pheto, Cameroonian filmmaker and photographer Osvalde Lewat, filmmaker and regional secretary of the Federation of Pan-African Filmmakers Asha Lovelace, and South African TV and theatre writer/director Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom.
Film fans can catch The Train of Salt and Sugar at independent movie house The Bioscope on 11-13 and 19-22 November. Visit www.thebioscope.co.za for more information.