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South African Film Festival of Australia 2019

Classic Cinemas is excited to announce the inaugural South African Film Festival of Australia (SAFFA), taking place from March 28 – April 3 at the Classic Cinemas in Elsternwick. SAFFA celebrates the contemporary diversity, complexity and creativity of the rainbow nation with a program of films that showcase the distinctive talent and stories emerging from the region.

The full SAFFA lineup includes 8 premiere feature and documentary films handpicked from world-class film festivals, and a retrospective screening of South Africa’s most commercially successful film, the laugh-out-loud cult classic The Gods Must Be Crazy.

All of the new films in the SAFFA program are Australian or Victorian premieres, handpicked from world-class film festivals such as Cannes, Toronto and Hot Docs. These films rarely get a wide release, so SAFFA provides one of the only ways for expats and cinephiles alike to catch them on the big screen in Australia.

Highlights include SAFFA’s Opening Night film Pluck (A Film Not Really About Chicken) — a wildly entertaining new documentary that celebrates the cheeky and charming marketing campaigns of South Africa’s favourite chicken export; Nando’s, and acknowledges its place in the post-Apartheid growth and identity of the country.  Explore the extraordinary primordial iMfolozi wilderness in Sisters of the Wilderness, and in nail-biting feature Beyond the River, tumble along the the rapids of Africa’s biggest canoe event, the Dusi Canoe Marathon.

Examine the complex politics of the region — Cannes-premiering The State Against Mandela and the Others provides a powerful reflection on the seminal 1964 Rivonia Trial, and Whispering Truth to Power, an award-winner at the 2018 Hot Docs Film Festival, acknowledges the vital role of the public prosecutor in South Africa’s post-Apartheid society.

The Fun’s Not Over – The James Phillips Story celebrates the momentous power of music in galvanising societal change, and visionary South African filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s new feature Sew the Winter to My Skin brings to life the story of John Kepe, an Indigenous Ned Kelly-like outlaw in pre-Apartheid South Africa.

Combining the whimsy of Moonrise Kingdom with the dark magic of The Secret Garden, the new South African fairytale Meerkat Moonship is suitable for young and old alike. Introducing a new generation of viewers to the extraordinary global sensation, SAFFA will close with uproarious family classic The Gods Must Be Crazy.

All non-English films include English subtitles. Biltong and other South African treats will be supplied at select screenings across the festival.

Tickets for SAFFA are on sale at and the Classic Cinemas box office.

SAFFA 2019 Full Program —

Beyond the River
South Africa, 2017
Dir: Craig Freimond | Feature
Duma is a talented but idle young man who finds himself on the wrong side of the law, while Steve is a nine-time Dusi Canoe Marathon gold medalist whose marriage is on the verge of collapse. Through a series of unexpected events, the two men find themselves attempting the three-day Dusi – the biggest and most challenging canoeing event in Africa, as a doubles pair – a bold collaboration that demands sacrifice and dedication if they’re to master the river.
Inspired by an exhilarating true story, Beyond the River delivers a nail-biting adventure story about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

The Fun’s Not Over – The James Phillips Story
South Africa, 2018
Dir. Michael Cross
A composer, musician and hard-partying rock ‘n’ roller, James Phillips was the voice and conscience of a generation of white South Africans. In 1983, his Afrikaans alter ego Bernoldus Niemand’s single, “Hou My Vas Korporaal” (“Hold Me Tightly, Corporal”) became an anthem of South Africa’s End Conscription Campaign, and spawned a new genre of Afrikaans rock music that sparked and fired a revolution.
Taking the viewer on a rollicking musical ride, The Fun’s Not Over is an intimate portrait of a wildly talented poet painted by those who knew him best.

The Gods Must Be Crazy
South Africa, Botswana, 1980
Dir. Jamie Uys
Relive the laugh-out-loud absurdity of South Africa’s surprise global sensation and most commercially successful release ever: Jamie Uys’ The Gods Must Be Crazy.
A tribe of bushmen living in the Kalahari Desert find their peaceful, happy existence threatened when a Coca-Cola bottle falls from the sky. The natives squabble incessantly over ownership of the mysterious item, which they believe to be a gift from the gods. Hoping to restore order, one tribesman is elected to return the bottle by journeying to the ends of the earth, which brings him into contact with modern civilisation.

Meerkat Moonship
South Africa, 2017
Dir. Hanneke Schutte
Aspiring botanist Gideonette is convinced she’s destined to die at an early age because of a family curse—a belief that only intensifies after her father suddenly passes away. As the frightened 13-year-old recoils from the world, her mother sends her to stay with her grandparents on their lush farm. Despite her grief, Gideonette is mystified by their quirks: her grandfather spends his nights building an elaborate contraption dubbed a “meerkat moonship” for her new friend Bhubesi, a little boy who cheerfully spends his days training to be an astronaut.
Combining the whimsy of Moonrise Kingdom with the dark magic of The Secret Garden, Meerkat Moonship is a mesmerising new South African fairytale for young and old.

Pluck (a film not really about chicken)
South Africa, 2018
Dir. Lloyd Ross
Gender? Politics? Race? Xenophobia? Religion? To Nando’s – it’s all free range.
Taking a deep dive into South Africa’s history through the brutally honest lens of South Africa’s favourite chicken establishment, Pluck takes a look at the inception of Nando’s notoriously memorable and witty advertisements and pulls back the curtain on the biggest laughs, shocks and controversies that have made it one of South Africa’s most recognisable – and beloved – global brands.

Sew the Winter to My Skin
South Africa, Germany, 2018
Dir. Jahmil X.t. Qubeka
Visionary South African filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka reimagines the story of John Kepe, an Indigenous Ned Kelly-like outlaw in 1950s South Africa who robbed from white colonist farmers and gave to the impoverished Indigenous poor, becoming a threat to the foundations of Apartheid society. Offering an swashbuckling ride into the heart of pre-Apartheid South Africa, this epic and visceral feature shares a rarely-told chapter of South Africa’s colonial history.

Sisters of the Wilderness
South Africa, 2018
Dir. Karin Slater
Part wildlife documentary and part pilgrimage, Sisters of the Wilderness follows five young Zulu women as they embark on their first encounter with the wilderness – the primordial iMfolozi nature reserve in Eastern South Africa – in which their ancestors lived for centuries. Protected by a pair of rangers and overseen by a motherly guide, the young women enter on a journey of self-discovery and personal healing, while strengthening their relationship to nature.

The State Against Mandela and the Others
France, 2018
Dir. Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte
There were no cameras in court when Nelson Mandela and nine other defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1964 Rivonia Trial, but sound recordings were made throughout, recently restored and used in this vital film to create a vivid reflection on the apartheid era.
Switching between archive, animation and interviews with figures such as Winnie Mandela and David Yutar, son of the prosecutor Percy Yutar, The State Against Mandela and the Others provides a history lesson that could never be gleaned from a book. The trial took place more than 50 years ago, but it now feels closer than ever.

Whispering Truth to Power
South Africa, Netherlands, 2018
Dir. Shameela Seedat
Presenting an absorbing and dramatic portrait of an inspirational woman, Whispering Truth to Power documents the final year in office of South Africa’s Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, as she attempts to bring justice to ordinary South Africans. As Public Protector, Madonsela is tasked with holding the government to account, and soon after taking office she is pitted against South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma. Accused of massive illegal public spending on his private home, Zuma denies the charges, launching a frenetic and tense final year in office for Madonsela who races to complete her investigation while fending off protests, legal challenges, and death threats.

Dates: Thursday 28 March – Wednesday 3 April
Locations: Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick

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