South Africa, Johannesburg – Covid-19 pandemic has pushed every creative into a corner and to adapt to the new normal. The same applies to the Africa Rising International Film Festival (Ariff) set for later this month.
“We were caught between not doing the festival and just doing it. We’ve built a great community of young people who kept asking us on social media if the festival was happening. We’ve always been 4IRthinking, we’ve already from last year been implementing digital elements, so it felt natural as well to go virtual,” said Ayanda Sithebe, the director and co-founder of the festival.
For this virtual edition, more than nine films and documentaries will be screened. Ariff is known for screening both African and international films and documentaries under a resonating theme. This year’s theme is “Film for Change: GBV and Equality”.
“We had to reflect personally this year and think about why we do what we do. This theme looks at narratives that can really drive conversations, create awareness, and reflect the societies we live in.”
Some of the films include Oscar 2021 nominee for Best International Feature This is not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection; Akin Omotoso’s The Ghost and The House of Truth; Thomas Gumede’s coming-of-age film, starring Isono actress Natasha Thahane, Kedibone, and many more.
“The films we selected have to speak to the unjust laws around the world. Right now, Africa is bleeding from everything that is happening continentally. We, as storytellers and film festivals, are pro-development and we looked at narratives that can really inspire people.”
Ariff put out a call to film-makers to submit their work.
“Under our developmental pillar, we decided to develop 16 short films that can speak to gender-based violence and other social ills and unjust laws. At the same time, we will be empowering 16 film-makers,” said Sithebe.
He added that this programme was in partnership with Swift (Sisters and Women in Film and Television), and said the 16 emerging film-makers would be 80% female and the remainder young people from disadvantaged communities.
“We’re in the process of selecting the 16 and will put them through a mentorship programme that will help produce those 16 films that will shoot and screen early next year.”
Those who have already produced work in line with the theme will have their work showcased in the online three-day festival, November 27-29.
Another major festival is the Joburg Film Festival which has switched from a six-day event to two days this year.
The festival will go ahead with a limited film selection with a focus on development workshops and three pillars: Film Programme, the Industry Programme and the Youth & Audience Development Programme.
This year, three specially curated films will be featured at a local cinema over the two days.
The Youth and Audience Development Programme is a skill-sharing platform for young aspiring film-makers to learn from and engage with industry professionals, hosted in partnership with the Gauteng Film Commission and the National Film & Video Foundation.
Festival organisers will select 20 youths from each of the five regions in Gauteng to attend the physical one-day workshop on November 28 that will be held at the Lesedi Theatre, Joburg Theatre. The festival will run on November 28 and 29.