The Durban International Film Festival has announced the selection of Elelwani as the film that will open the curtains on the 33rd edition of South Africa’s largest and longest running film festival.
This groundbreaking world premiere takes place on July 19, made possible by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (who was both the first funder of the film, and principal funder of the festival), and the National Film and Video Foundation, a crucial partner both of this pioneering production and DIFF.
Directed by Ntshavheni wa Luruli and produced by Florian Schattauer, Elelwani deals with the collision of modernity and traditionalism, through an updated, magical realist take on the very first and much loved Tshivenda novel of the same name. Against a backdrop of startling primary colours and rich ochre hues, young Elelwani (perfectly played by the beautiful Florence Masebe) must negotiate her transition into fully-fledged womanhood amidst the conflicting flows of rigidly patriarchal cultural protocol, and opportunities that may offer her a chance to grow in new ways, but that will sever her from her roots.
According to Luruli, who regards this as a very personal project, “Elelwani is the first Venda feature film, in Tshivenda language. It is about a progressive young woman growing up in the new South Africa, trying to shed her cultural past but later realizing its value; that the past is still relevant in dealing with the present, including the future.”
The complexity of the way in which this story is handled, as well as deft directorial auteurship, suggests that this film will slot easily into the canon alongside the great African films, and DIFF is proud to present the historic moment of its first public screening. With a radiantly fresh African aesthetic, and warmly dark historical undercurrents, Elelwani sets the tone for the following ten days of cinematic excellence at the festival. Running from 19 to 29 July the Durban International Film Festival will offer over 250 screenings, most of which are premieres in this country.
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) the Durban International Film Festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, HIVOS, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, The French Season in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and a range of other valued partners.