Moving People Film Festival: Films in Detail

Stories on Film selected by Four Curators from Two Continents

World Social Forum, Moi International Sports Centre, Block L Near Entrance 5

Details of the films curated by:

Durban International Film Festival

January 21, 2007

diff logo 2The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) has made a programme selection that includes the 27th edition’s award-winning Best South African Feature film, Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon; Best Documentary, Workingman’s Death; Best South African documentary Angola – Saudades From the One Who Loves You; and the brilliant South African documentary, The Bushman’s Secret.

These films, though varying in focus and method, all speak of a humanity on the move. People migrate due to economic forces, either fleeing poverty or moving towards a perceived better life, and Conversations adds perspective to these debates. People also fill vacuums left through the aftermath of war as in Angola Saudades, and those, as in The Bushman’s Secret and Workingman’s Death, left by the ravages of capitalist exploitation.

The films articulate degradation and desperation and yet, through intimate focus and abstract metaphor, leverage understanding, mobilize renewal and redress, and seed hope of a different future.
Durban International Film Festival, Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal.


Dir. Khalo Matabane | South Africa | 2005 | 80 min. English, French, Zulu, Swahili with English subtitles.

DIFF 2006 Best South African Feature Film, Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon, directed by Khalo Matabane, is genuinely revolutionary on many levels. A film with remarkable consideration for both style and content, it tackles many compelling and pertinent issues in a manner that is never judgemental, and which broadens our experience of being human. Conversations charts a new way forward for South African film, and indeed film in general, by proving that you can make a magnificent film with global resonance for very little money.

Perhaps the most important and vivacious South African film of recent years, Conversations is both formally and intellectually daring. Matabane ingeniously uses non-fictional elements in the telling of a fictional story of Keniloe (a superb Tony Kgoroge) who searches for Fatima, a refugee he used to encounter each Sunday at the park. On his search, the man questions several people, all displaced from their countries of origin, and an intriguing and poignant picture emerges.


Dir. Michael Glawogger | Austria | 2005 | 122 min. Russian, Basha, Indonesian, English, Ibu, Yokuba, Pashtu, Mandarin with English subtitles.

DIFF 2006 Best Documentary, Workingman’s Death, directed by Michael Glawogger, is a superb meditation on the world of work; every frame a searing execution of social reality, philosophy and art. From Ukrainian coal-pickers to Indonesian sulphur-miners, every moment is both raw and sensitive, concentrating beauty and pain. Its message is such that Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Franz Fanon will be sitting up in their graves.

This powerful documentary tracks in gripping detail the dangerous, exhausting and unforgiving circumstances under which manual labourers across the world work. Told in six chapters from Ukraine to Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Germany, the film ventures into the material and psychological reality of these workers, and highlights, most tragically, their lack of choice. Visually disturbing and conceptually sophisticated, this film is unflinching in its comment on the exploits of industrialisation, capitalism and globalisation. With unforgettable images of extreme conditions, Workingman’s Death constructs a jaw-dropping ode to workers everywhere.
Warning: This film contains graphic visuals. Not for sensitive viewers.


Dir. Richard Pakleppa | South Africa/Angola| 2005 | 65 min. Portuguese with English subtitles.

DIFF 2006 Best South African Documentary, Angola – Saudades From The One Who Loves You, directed by Richard Pakleppa, is a brilliantly executed, beautifully filmed and all-encompassing portrait of Angola as it emerges from decades of war. From the very political rapper and the street-kids, to the models and the modestly heroic woman fish-seller, this film is both a careful guide through Angola’s medley of contradictions and a celebration of its peace.

Angola is struggling to recover from the devastation of 27 years of civil war. This beautifully sound-tracked journey through a land of contrasts presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the diverse experiences of Angola’s people, from wealthy oil barons to street children, with mansions and malls juxtaposed against rubble and decay. This award-winning documentary suggests that the future is still out of reach for the majority of Angolans in this rich but anguished land.


Dir. Rehad Desai | South Africa | 2006 | 64 min. Various languages with English subtitles.

Bushman’s Secret is of particular relevance in a world where intellectual property rights are the new frontier of economic contestation. Centred on the San people’s rights deal over the Hoodia weight loss plant, Desai’s often wry approach elicits differing stakeholder perspectives and experiences. The San experience, which is in effect a critical world test-case, sadly highlights that the loss of land rights in the Kalahari highly endangers the next generation of indigenous knowledge holders.

Zanzibar International Film Festival

January 22, 2007

ZIFF logoA core conundrum of out times regards the issue of citizenship. Humanity has developed so far as to question our sense of belonging, the right to exercise certain liberties within state defined borders, and whether this state of constant journeying is a privilege, right, or indeed a responsibility. The sometimes indescribable conditions and experiences that these complex realities unveil also herald new and mitigated records of memory and values through films here presented.


Dir: Karen Yarosky | Canada | 2006 | 23 min.

Produced with the assistance of the Canadian National Film Board’s FAP program, the short documentary questions the assumption that immigration always brings people to a country where they experience the better life they hoped for. The film alternates between Zanzibar and Toronto, following the lives of two young Muslim girls, 15-year-old Nuru, who recently immigrated from Zanzibar to Toronto with her family, and 21-year-old Rukia, who is preparing to cross the ocean and marry a stranger in Canada. Her younger sister Shemsa helps her to prepare for the wedding and fantasizes about the complete prosperity Rukia will soon experience.


Dir: Caroline Kamya | Uganda | 2004 | 15 min. Luganda with English subtitles

In 1975, Western Sahara was invaded by Morocco and Mauritania. Fleeing, the Saharawi people found refuge in the deserts of Algeria, where over 200 000 are still living in camps. Zrug left for an education in Cuba when he was eight. Returning 16 years later, he discovers life has changed dramatically, and he is now more than determined to fight for freedom and his land.


Dir. Cecilia Bäcklander | Tanzania | 2005 | 30 min.

Elisa had a miserable life as a prostitute in Dar es Salaam. Now she has found meaningful work and plays football. She receives medicines to control her HIV-infection.


Dir. Cecilia Bäcklander | Uganda | 2005 | 30min.

Betty was pregnant when she escaped from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Her daughter lives at a childcare centre, but Betty hopes to be able to take care of her in the future.


Dir: Martin Mhando | Australia/Tanzania | 2007| 85 min.

The documentary discusses the political impasse between Aboriginal politicians and the current government in Australia. Using music by the Aboriginal balladeer Archie Roach it follows the journey of Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name Of The Father) into the heart of Aboriginal Australia reflecting the role of England in this whole sad episode.


Dir: Martin Mhando | Tanzania/USA | 2000 | 111min.

Summoned to the majestic heights of Kilimanjaro, two women – one African, one American – are led by an ancient and mysterious ancestor on a primal journey of spiritual awakening.

Magic Lantern Foundation, India

Curator: GARGI SEN
January 23, 2007

mlflameIn this time when the global village is the much applauded market phenomenon, people’s physical movement in relation to space and its ownership has grown to be the nucleolus of political realities. Migration, refugee, diaspora, exile, trafficking, slavery, captivity, invasion &endash; each poses a myriad of questions and also exposes the current world order. We aim to explore this phenomenon to its various roots, implications, overlaps, alterations, and also the resistance to it. These films from Asia, thus, intimately engage with the myriad issues related to Moving People.


Dir. Sanjay Kak | India | 2003 | 85 min. English (subtitled)

Shasan valo, sun lo aaj! Hamare gaon mein hamaara raaj! (Listen to us, you who rule! Our villages, we control!)

A boat carrying that cargo of defiance begins an urgent journey through the Narmada Valley. For more than 15 years people of this valley have resisted a series of massive dams on the river, and in their struggle have gradually exposed the deceptive heart of India’s development politics. But this is 1999, and the Supreme Court of India has just lifted its six-year long legal stay on the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam. The resistance finds itself pushed to its most critical phase…

Shot and edited over a period of three years, Words on Water is a film about sustained non-violent resistance, in a world where the use of violence has become the arbiter of political debate. It’s about the satyagraha, the assertion of truth, that almost joyous defiance, which empowers the people as they struggle for their rights, yet saves them from the ultimate humiliation of violence.


Dir. Yasmine Kabir | Bangladesh | 2004 | 34 min. English (subtitled)

My Migrant Soul is about Shahjahan Babu, a young migrant worker from Bangladesh, who left for Malaysia in search of work. Having sold his only piece of property and virtually mortgaging his life – the young man arrives in the host country to experience only disillusionment, misery and frustration. The film ends with tragic consequences for the protagonist of the film.

The film highlights the plight of the migrant worker in these times, and uses the story of one person to illustrate that of countless others who have suffered at the hands of those who have stood to profit by bartering lives.


Dir. Amudhan R. P. | India | 2006 | 72 min. English (subtitled)

Seruppu is a socio-cultural exploration of the community of Arundhatiyars from Tiuchapalli, South India. The Arundhatiyars are Dalit Christians who make footwear for a living. The film engages with their social, cultural and economic life, and locates the junctions and junctures of their civil rights. The community of the Arundhatiyars is struggling to establish its citizenship and selfhood in times of great turbulence that follows in the wake of globalisation.


Dir. Madhusree Dutta | India | 2006 | 100 min. English (subtitled)

A frayed rug around his shoulders/ My father came down the Sahydris/ And stood at your doorstep/ With only his labour in his hands. (‘Mumbai’ by Narayan Surve)

This film is a tale of the cities of Bom Bahia / Bombay / Mumbai &endash; the multilingual Bombay, The Bombay of intolerance, the Bombay of closed mills, of popular culture, sprawling slums and real estate onslaughts, the metropolis of numerous ghettos, the El Dorado.

Structured around imaginary debates between Ismat Chugtai and Sadat Hasan Manto, the two legendary writers who lived in this metropolis, the film weaves a tapestry of fiction, cinema verite, art objects, found footage, sound installation and literary texts.

SUICIDE JUMPERS: ‘Modern-day heroes’ in a Modern-day War

Produced by Migrant Forum Asia and Focus on the Global South | 20 min.

In August 2006, Israel rained thousands of bombs on Lebanon. Along with the rest of the Lebanese people, between 30,000 to 50,000 Filipino migrant workers — most of them female domestic helpers — were subjected to what international law considers “collective punishment.” With many made to work in miserable conditions from 5 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, for $150 a month, vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, these workers are referred to in the Philippines as “modern-day heroes” because of the dollars they infuse to the economy. This is the story of these heroes in a modern-day war.


Ritwik Ghatak | India| 1961 | 35 mm | black and white | 133 min.

In Bengal in the 1950s, rivalry spreads between two progressive theatre groups. Brighu’s company goes to Lalgola, on the banks of the river Padma, which divides India and East Pakistan. Both Anasuya and Brighu suffer the same anguish: the separation from their home, on the other side of the river. Once back in Calcutta, Anasuya must make an important decision: stay among her people or leave and join her boyfriend in France.

Al-Kasaba International Film Festival, Palestine

January 24, 2007

Al Kasaba logoOccupation practices to impose isolation and blockades against the Palestinian people, in the time where they demand to have their freedom. Palestine is surrounded by the checkpoints and the separation wall that divided the Palestinian cities.

Al Kasaba Theatre and Cinematheque in Palestine is exposing the new face of Palestine through presenting these films that express the Palestinian issues. Such movies can strengthen the cultural exchange between people.


Dir. Maya Sabar and Jeffrey Saunders | Palestine | 2005 | 85 min. English with Arabic subtitles

Goal Dreams is a feature length documentary film about national and personal identity as seen through a team like no other. Comprising a multiple culture, speaking different languages, and having no home field, the Palestinian national soccer team and its layers must overcome obstacles of physical, emotional, cultural and geographic nature just to exist. The film follows the team as it’s prepares for a decisive match in its attempt to quality for the 2006 world cup.


Dir. Juliano Mer Khamis | Palestine | 2003 | 84 min. English subtitles

Arna’s Children tells the story of a theatre group that was established by Arna Mer Khamis on the West Bank that engaged children from Jenin, helping them to express their everyday frustrations, anger, bitterness and fear. Eight years ago, the theatre was closed and life became static and paralysed.

Arna’s son Juliano, director of this film, was also one of the directors of Jenin’s theatre, and today is one of the leading actors in the region. He looks back in time, trying to understand the choices made by the children he loved and worked with. Shifting back and forth in time, the film reveals the tragedy and horror of lives trapped by the circumstances of the Israeli occupation.


Dir. Liana Bader | Palestine | 2006 | 42 min. Arabic with English Subtitles

In Palestine, roads and gates have different meaning than anywhere else in the world. This film exposes the surreal nature of the daily life of ordinary people in the occupied West Bank. As children, women, students and farmers are daily forced to take these roads and passageways, they come across many strange happenings. The film catches some of these encounters. What sort of roads and passageways do Palestinians have to cross in order to reach their schools, universities, fields, homes or olive groves? Is it at all possible to reach one’s destination without somehow needing a miracle? These are people who have crossed my path.


Dir. Abdelsalam Shehadeh | Palestine | 45 min. Arabic with English subtitles

Some of these rose from among the debris. Carrying their tears, some were looking for answers to worries that haunted them… Others were exhausted by contemplating the reality… They appeared like me… I used to love camera and believe in what it can do to transfer the pain… forget sorrows… or maybe the promise of a better life.


Dir. Nahed Awwad | Palestine | 2005 | 25 min. Arabic with English subtitles

Abu Jameel owns a small stationary in Ramallah. Nothing has changed in his shop since the fifties. The lack of freedom of movement and military raids leave him with a general sense of insecurity. Director Nahed Awwad approaches him gently, with tenderness, asks him about his dreams, his past, and his secret rooms…


Dir. Najwa Najjar | Palestine | 2005 | 20 min. Arabic with English subtitles

Ziyad is a young Palestinian man who sells flowers in the nearby village. He’s in love with Yasmine, a young Palestinian girl from the village. At night they meet in secret away from the disapproving villagers’ eyes… and while Yasmine’s parents are busy arranging her future, an unexpected happening changes everyone’s lives.


Dir. Yahya Barakat | Palestine | 2005 | 80 min. Arabic with English subtitles

The film is about the killing of the American peace activist Rachel Courie by an Israeli military bulldozer in Rafah, as she was attempting to stop the Israeli occupation Army from demolishing houses and water wells, and from killing children. The film puts into light the role of international solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people since its early beginnings, with the incitation of the Palestinian struggle movement in Jordan and Lebanon, up until this last intifada (uprising) against occupation, colonization, check points and the apartheid Wall.


Dir. Liana Bader | Palestine | 1999 | 56 min. Arabic with English subtitles

A Tale Of A Palestinian Poetess is the story of Fadwa and the city of Nablus. This film was made with the support of Nablus Municipality (Ghassan El Shaqaa was the mayor at that time), the French Consulate in Jerusalem, and several local organizations. The film follows her childhood and her challenge to be a poet, along with the support of her brother Ibrahim Touqan.

The MOVING PEOPLE FILM FESTIVAL is a part of the arts project — Moving People: Africa-Asia Interface on Migration/Refugee/Exile/Diaspora.

Partners for this initiative include @Culture, India (a network comprising Majlis, Magic Lantern Foundation, Point of View, and independent artists) with Focus on Global South; Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; GoDown Arts Centre & Kwani Trust, Nairobi and the Zanzibar International Film Festival – Festival of the Dhow Countries; Al- Kasaba International Film Festival, Palestine.

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