#DIFF40: Anant Singh on the Durban International Film Festival

The Durban International Film Festival starts on Thursday, July 18. 

Opening the festival will be Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s "Knuckle City" , which is about the boxing scene in Mdatsane in the Eastern Cape.
It is also the 40th edition of the festival, which was started by Ros Sarkin and her husband, Teddy, in 1979.

There have been many interesting moments over the four decades that this event, which many regard as the most important film festival in the continent, has been held.

Film producer, Anant Singh, has been at the forefront of the festival, where many of his films have premiered. 
VideoVision Entertainment, which is Singh’s production company, will be staging the world premiere of his Angus Gibson’s new film, "Back of the Moon", on Friday. 

Videovision Entertainment will also be screening "Sarafina!", "More than just a Game" and "Freedom Squar e", in DIFF’s commemorative section, Celebrating 25 Years of Democracy.

We asked Singh to share some of his favourite festival moments. 

Do you remember your first time at DIFF? How was that experience?

It was 1979 during the height of apartheid. I was just starting out in the film business as a distributor. I had met Ros Sarkin the founder of DIFF, and her husband, Teddy. It was also a time when cinemas were segregated and they had to have screenings for “non-white” audiences.   

What have been some of your favourite moments at DIFF?
Having to secure a special exemption from the Censor Board in the late ‘80s to screen The Stick which was critical of the apartheid state and the border wars being waged at the time. 
The censors demanded 48 cuts to the film, and we attempted to screen the film at DIFF completely uncut. The film was banned in SA and premiered at the Moscow Film Festival.

Also, Yesterday having its world premiere as the opening film of DIFF in 2004. And Leleti Khumalo winning the Best Actress Award at DIFF in 2005 for her role in Faith’s Corner.

What is it about DIFF that makes it different from other film festivals?

Having attended many festivals around the world, DIFF is unique in many respects, especially as it has become the gathering point for African film-makers. Also, the fact that it is hosted in Durban. 

What would you like to see from the festival in the next 40 years?

The festival will no doubt follow the trends set by other festivals, but it is essential that it maintains its unique identity while responding to changes in technology and the connected world.

Are you attending this year and if so, which film are you most amped to watch?
I am delighted to have the Sophiatown-themed film Back of the Moon have its world remiere at DIFF this year. I am quite keen to watch the opening night film, Knuckle City directed by Jahmil Qubeka and produced by Leila Swart. Jahmil is a really talented film-maker. I am also looking forward to watching films from African film-makers.

The Durban International Film Festival, is hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts in various venues around Durban from July 18 to 28 .
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