One of the most exciting almost-new festivals in South Africa, bringing together the best of South African and international features, documentaries and shorts in an incredible three-day extravaganza, the JOZI FILM FESTIVAL returned for its third consecutive year from 21 – 23 February 2014. It’s hard to believe that so much can fit into such a short time, in so many places across the expansive city of Johannesburg.
All over the city, from the only independent cinema in central Johannesburg, The Bioscope, to the malls of Rosebank and Killarney, and then returning to the centre for the closing day events at the very exclusive and historic Rand Club, screens were alight with a truly extraordinary programme of films, as well as an array of workshops and master-classes.
‘…being fully grounded in South Africa, the festival’s real magic comes with its ability to boast the best of the country’s own cinema – and the city’s too…’
The films spanned from the little-known, such as NUWEBE from the Phillipines – an intriguing story of a young girl who claims to have been impregnated by an evil spirit – to the South African premiere of Wes Anderson’s latest, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. However, being fully grounded in South Africa, the festival’s real magic comes with its ability to boast the best of the country’s own cinema – and the city’s too. The festival opener iNUMBER NUMBER, also winner of the much-coveted Audience Choice Award, set the tone for an explosive weekend with the high-action, edge-of-your-seat thriller set in and around Johannesburg. As well as that, one of the highlights was the unassuming and charming little comedy SHOTGUN GARFUNKEL, hilariously yet poignantly following a group of thirty-somethings who want to relive their youth in the city. The dark horse of the festival, SHOTGUN GARFUNKEL was also the surprise Best Feature Film at the closing ceremony.
To end the festival, what better than to feature the most high-profile and internationally-recognised South African film of recent times, OF GOOD REPORT, the low-key but highly-violent and unsettling story of a teacher who becomes obsessed with one of his students in rural South Africa, which caused a splash last year when it was ‘banned’ before its premiere at the Durban International Film Festival.
‘…the city has so much to offer in terms of locations for films to screen, from the modern to the historic, and coupled with the rise in production of South African film currently taking place, the future looks bright…’
In just its third year, the Jozi Film Festival has showed immense growth. Indeed, the city has so much to offer in terms of locations for films to screen, from the modern to the historic, and coupled with the rise in production of South African film currently taking place, the future looks bright for this relatively small festival. Certainly a festival that is bound to become a fixture in the city’s annual calendar, and one suspects it will soon be major competition for Durban in years to come as one of Africa’s best and hopefully biggest film festivals.