CN&CO is, once again, throwing our full weight behind the annual Jozi Film Festival (JFF) in 2018. The festival has always been close to our hearts, not only because it gives Joburgers a chance to watch some really cool independent and experimental films, but also because of our close relationship with festival founder and organiser, Lisa Henry.

“JFF is Johannesburg’s longest-running, independent, multi-genre film festival, screening both local and international films at various venues across the City of Gold,” says Lisa. “Small and gritty, and critically acclaimed, the festival’s main aim is to provide a platform for both established and emerging South African filmmakers, while also showing international films that speak to a diverse Jozi audience.”

The festival also speaks to our love of partnerships. This is the second year that JFF has partnered with Discovery Channel to offer African filmmakers a chance to win the “Don’t Stop Wondering” award, a category that calls for short doccie submissions from across the continent. The contest is vote-driven, and voting is open until 7pm CAT on Friday, 24 August 2018.

Read more here: Voting open for Discovery Channel and Jozi Film Festival’s annual film contest … and don’t be shy to vote for your favourite!

“A great feature of this year’s festival is that it includes a new venue – The Olive Tree Theatre in Marlboro,” says CN&CO chief señor and avid JFF supporter, Carel Nolte. “Actually, it’s more Alex than Marlboro, which fills me with delight. It’s great to see the festival making itselfmore accessible to a wider variety of Joburg’s citizens, and not just the Rosebank crowd.”

Films will also be screened at The Bioscope in the downtown precinct of Maboneng.

The film scheduled to be screened on opening night, 27 September, at the Olive Tree is the feature-length documentary Whispering Truth To Power, directed by South Africa’s own Shameela Seedat. This film charts the final year in office of Thuli Madonsela as she attempts to bring justice to ordinary people as South Africa’s Public Protector.

After successfully challenging then president Jacob Zuma for illegal use of state funds, she now has to face the biggest challenge of her career: investigating – in the face of protests, death threats and legal challenges – the alleged systematic takeover of government by a private family in cahoots with the president. But how does one weigh the importance of fighting government corruption against the larger moral crime of continued inequality?

Whispering Truth To Power documents the tense story of Madonsela’s last year in public office, while simultaneously crafting an absorbing tale of an outstanding lawyer, mother and woman. It also provides insight into several critical issues facing South Africa today, such as ongoing inequality, racial tensions, land redistribution and corruption.

The film will screen at The Olive Tree Theatre in Marlboro (“Alex!” says Carel) on 27 September in partnership with the African Human Rights Festival (AHRFF). Director Shameela Seedat will be in attendance.

The film will screen again at The Bioscope on 28 September.

The Olive Tree Theatre will host the opening night screening of ‘Whispering Truth to Power’

Here are some more highlights that lie in store:

Mma Moeketsi (short fiction)
Director: Reabetswe Moeti, SA

We all remember the fateful event on 16 August 2012 when members of the South African Police Service opened fire on striking miners at the Marikana Platinum Mine. Thirty-four miners were killed and 78 wounded.

Based on a true story, Mma Moeketsi tells the tales of a domestic worker from rural Lesotho working for a suburban family in Johannesburg. Mma Moeketsi’s only son is among the strikers. In the wake of the wage increase strike from 15 August 2012, Moeketsi’s phone is off and he is nowhere to be found. Mma Moeketsi can do nothing but wait pensively for her son to call her or at least pick up her phone calls. One part of her life is at a standstill while her physical presence must still operate as the housekeeper of her suburban employers, in an empty, lonely silence.

The Oslo Diaries (feature-length documentary)
Director: Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, Israel

JFF will screen the Africa premiere of this acclaimed documentary, which premiered at Sundance 2018.

Once upon a time, Israel and Palestine almost made peace. Both nations came close: they could feel it, touch it. But, then at the eleventh hour, it all collapsed. The result is an ongoing violent reality that the world continues to witness. Personal diaries written by participants of the secret peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as never-before-seen archival footage of the Oslo Accord peace process, creates a dramatic thriller of historic importance.

The film provides new insights into why the peace process failed and why both sides are still embroiled in the longest ongoing conflict of our times. It will help viewers understand the intricacy of peace-making and the profound emotional connections the players had during this process.

This is an intimate story that speaks to the current difficult situation in the Middle East.

     

Supa Modo (feature film)
Director: Likarion Wainaina, Kenya

An inspired reimagining of the superhero film, Supa Modo follows the story of nine-year-old Jo, terminally ill and taken home from hospital to die. While her mother wants to wrap her in blankets and keep her indoors, her sister Mwix wants to help her experience all she can in the time she has left.

If this sounds rather heavy, take heart from Jo: obsessed with kung-fu movies and superheroes, and dealing with her illness by escaping into the world of her imagination and never stopping reaching for her dream. She teaches us all this lesson by the end of the film, in a beautifully bittersweet way.

The film will make its Jozi premier at the festival.

The Black Mambas (short documentary)
Director: Bruce Donnelly, USA

The Black Mambas are South Africa’s first and only all-female anti-poaching unit, fighting to rescue our country’s rhinos from the edge of extinction. Made up of a group of local women from communities surrounding the Kruger National Park, these military-trained guardians are the ears and eyes on the ground as they patrol the bush for any signs of poachers. Their work within the boundaries of the reserve has seen rhino poaching decrease by nearly 80%.

But for these women, this is only a short-term solution and a small victory in a much bigger war. To tackle the greater socio-economic problems concerned with poaching, they have adopted a longer-term view and are taking their fight beyond the reserve’s fence. By starting their Bush Babies programme, the Mambas are actively going out to schools and communities that surround the park to instil in the local children a sense of pride and duty in protecting their most precious heritage: their wildlife.

This is the first time the film will be screened in Africa.

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