This year marks the 42nd edition of South Africa’s longest-running film festival, the Durban International Film Festival. For the second year running, the festival is taking place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite this, organisers say, they’ve had a successful run, boasting a programme of close to 140 productions, including feature films, documentaries and shorts.

The Durban International Film festival is a global showcase with a focus on films from the continent. Those produced by Africans in the diaspora and of African descent.

One of the most popular films in this year’s festival is the documentary “I Am Here” directed by Jordy Sank. An incredible story about 99-year-old Capetonian Ella Blumenthal who shares her story of surviving the holocaust. Some of Ella’s memories include surviving three concentration camps and avoiding death.

Durban International Film Festival marks the 42nd edition:

Another popular film on the circuit is “Zinder.”

In the town of Zinder in Niger, a group of youth try to break free from violence and gang warfare. Director Aicha Macky, who hails from Zinder, films their daily lives divided between their gangs and their families.

And exploring the tales of hardships in refugee camps – were also highlighted. A film of survival at a refugee camp, “The last shelter”, depicts the stories of migrants in Gao, Mali, on the southern edge of the Sahara desert. This documentary recently won an award at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival. The two main characters Esther and Kady, two teenage girls from Burkina Faso, share a bond over their hardships.

The number of viewers purchasing films online have increased significantly since 2020.

“Despite COVID, there has been a significant increase online, many people have purchased movies and they have still been able to run a successful programme,” says the Centre for Creative Arts’ director, Dr Ismail Mahomed.

The curtain comes down on the festival this weekend.