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Review: Courage


Courage is a visual journey, taking shape in a series of seven short films. Perfect for indecisive film lovers, or anyone who loves variety.

The series of films is continuous, one bite-size drama after another, each with its tale of courage. Beginning with Flankers (Justin Oakley), a macabre story at the Newfoundland seaside, audiences see an elderly man take courage in the face of loss in July 14th (Barocas Michael) a distraught father in No Sign of Wind (Greg Bakker) and a courageous kiss in Dear Pearl (Meja Shoba).

My favourite film in the series was The Aftermath of the Inauguration of the Public Toilet at Kilometre 375. In a set of strange amalgamations, Egyptian Director, Omar el Zohairy blends humour with tragedy. Dawdling scenes of motionlessness are intercut with smartly dressed businessmen juxtaposed in derelict settings. The slow pace is poignant and rich with anticipation as the audience waits. El Zohairy gets you chuckling at the absurdity of a man trying, persistently to apologize for a sneeze. The results are a Kafkaesque blend of the tragic and the banal that leave you thinking. It’s a simple plot that will tell you as much as you read.

Teacher’s Room also caught my eye, with creative close up shots and a suspicious plot. Schoolgirl, Young-eun is accused of prostitution. In a tense confrontation she must prove her innocence or face expulsion from her school. Director, Hogil Hwanng of South Korea delivers a dramatic skit of courage and corruption. Teacher’s Room is gripping and compelling.

Of the Three South African films in the series (No Sign of Wind, Dear Pearl, Dear Betty) Dear Betty (Lara Chuna) stood out to me for its quirk and optimism. A deflated Betty’s drifts through her days as a post office clerk, folding origami swans and warding off co-worker Marie’s ‘exotic’ baking. When a handsome stranger leaves an intriguing package, Betty’s curiosity gets her into trouble. Soon she’s busting her chops in skimpy outfits! Authentic and encouraging, Dear Betty gave me hope for the future in SA.


The 36th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, , KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, Gauteng Film Commission, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.


Sharlene Versfeld / Ayanda Mabanga

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