The award-winning Ugu Film Festival hosted by Sollywood Films in partnership with The National Film and Video Foundation, as well as Ugu South Coast Tourism, is back.
The programme will run from Friday, January 24, to Sunday, January 26, at the Margate Hotel in Port Shepstone. The festival’s prominent community outreach feature will be held at Izingolweni.
The festival provides a vital local film development platform, giving aspirant and up-and-coming filmmakers an opportunity to not only gain expert insight and exposure on the value chain of the industry, but also a chance to showcase their craft to potential investors, film enthusiasts and media.
Opening with a special screening of an award-winning South African film titled Uncovered, directed by Zuko Nodada, the festival will run a programme with a special focus on female filmmakers, Through the Lenses of South African Women.
Uncovered is a film about young, driven and intelligent Aluta Ndlovu, whose ambition to become CEO of a mining company (Shift Inc) clouds her judgment when her journalist sister Pumla Ndlovu informs her about possible corruption.
Out of the blue, Frank Drake (Aluta’s boss) wants to sell a worthless mine to the people of Somkhele Village. It is only when Phumla dies that Aluta sees through Frank and figures out what he is up to, driving her to vengeance, not only for her sister’s death, but also her people and her own life.
The festival’s headliner will be Durban filmmaker Claire Angelique’s ground-breaking second feature film, Palace of Bones.
Angelique won the award for Young Artist of the Year (Film) for her feature debut My Black Little Heart at the National Arts Festival in 2010. With her prize money, she financed this thriller about a girl who goes on a killing spree of all those who did her wrong.
The film premiered at the 2011 National Arts Festival where eminent art critic Mary Corrigall selected it as number three in her cultural highlights of the year.
“I am excited by the support the festival continues to receive from its partners, particularly the National Film and Video Foundation and Ugu South Coast Tourism,” said Senzo Zindela, founder and executive director of the Ugu Film.
“The impact of the festival over the years has been highly significant .It has changed perspectives, promoted the south coast as a film destination of choice and inspired emerging filmmakers and creative individuals to pursue and start film businesses.
“Furthermore it has awakened local authorities to take the film business seriously, as they are putting bylaws in place and establishing film offices,” said Zindela.
Palace of Bones, written and directed by Claire Angelique
This daring filmmaker turns the culture of self-documentation on itself in this unique feature film which plots a documenter’s attempt to discover the truth about a young woman she has filmed, who was alleged to have killed several people.
The film is a retrospective view of footage re-edited by its creator, an amateur who hides behind the lens of a camera.
She is an invisible witness who, despite her scrutinising gaze, was unable to really come to grips with the action she captured, the truth. In this way the apparatus she was using to see was the impediment to seeing.
Palace of Bones is a sophisticated and layered indie whodunit that probes a debased and immoral society, where drug dealers marvel at the corruptible nature of the police.
Zulu Return by KZN filmmaker Gugulethu
This is a fascinating documentation of American rap artist Afrika Bambaata, coming to South Africa to find his perceived African roots.
The rap singer’s sometimes murky history in the music industry is not avoided and Gugulethu’s wonderful style takes the viewer on a fascinating journey, sprinkled with sangomas, the ancestors and colonial history.
Nicole Schafer’s Buddha in Africa
This film is already creating a stir after screenings at Encounters Documentary Festival and the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), where it garnered awards at both locations.
It documents a Chinese Buddhist academy in Malawi where the methods are sometimes highly questionable and the issues of colonialism come up loud and clear. The director observes all these permutations with a distant, but incisive, eye.
The film is up for consideration as a South African entry into the Oscar competition.
Robin Burke’s Spookie Kom Huis Toe
This film was premiered at DIFF in 2019. The young Pretoria director looks at her history as an Afrikaner with a critical and highly experimental eye.
Already causing sometimes trenchant debate within the Afrikaans community, the film is a brave and unique statement.
Cape Town filmmaker Uma Martinez’s independent short production, Forest Drive
This is a structurally complex examination of death, loss and complicity that takes the breath away with its stylistic audacity.
Martinez, with a PhD in geological surveying, brings a very different eye to the filmmaking process.