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​The Jozi Film Festival was well received, particularly the Short Fiction Festival within it, which was sold out. In all, 27 local films were screened.
IT was all laughter and applause as funny man John Vlismas clowned around with the audience at the inaugural Jozi Film Festival Awards celebrations.

Funnyman Michael Vlismas directed proceedingsFunnyman John Vlismas directs proceedingsThree days, two venues and 27 movies later and the Jozi Film Festival closed on a high note. There were six winners at the awards ceremony, which took place on 12 February at the Kensington Club.

Winners were Best Student Film, which went to director Mikles Manneke for E-lectrity; Best Fiction Film Short for Singing In Kliptown by Eat My Dust Collective; Best Documentary Film to directors Craig Foster and Damon Foster for My Hunter’s Heart; Best Animated Film to director Michael Rix for Tengers; Best Feature Film to director Akin Omotoso for Man On Ground; and Audience Choice Award to director Justin Chadwick for The First Grader.

Hosted by Vlismas and actress Nthati Moshesh, the informal awards ceremony followed a private screening of Semi-Soet, a new Afrikaans romantic comedy.

The Jozi Film Festival began on 10 February at The Bioscope Independent Cinema with the screening of Omotoso’s Man On Ground. On the opening night, Capoeira performers showcased their mix of Brazilian martial art and dance.

One of the film’s producers, Rosie Motene, said: “Finally a festival of our own. What a pleasure it was to have our South African premiere at the first Jozi Film Festival, then to win our first award made it even more special! Thank you to the organisers for seeing the need to showcase and celebrate South African films.”

Russell Grant, the co-owner of The Bioscope, said: “We have done many festivals at The Bioscope, each with their own audience and charm, so we can confidently say that the Jozi Film Festival was incredibly successful. They kept it short and jam packed, with sold out screenings at 11am.”

The Short Fiction Festival, a mini festival within the festival, on 11 February, also at The Bioscope, proved to be very popular. Although it was sold out, people begged to get inside the cinema, happy to stand or sit on extra chairs brought in.

The capoeira dance troupe showcase their dancing skillsCapoeira performers showcase their dancing and martial arts skillsFilms screened were Bianca Bothma’s Constructing Jo’burg, Justin Sandmann’s Ticket eSandleni, Stephen Abbott’s Dirty Laundry, Unusual Predicament by Henco J and Singing in Kliptown – and there were joyous shouts from the young Kliptown collective when Eat My Dust took home the prize in this category the next evening.

Short films
Eat My Dust was formed under the tutelage of the French director, Delphine de Blic. Their short films are strongly influenced by the Lumiere Brothers, Pathe and Charlie Chaplin. On winning, the collective’s Sandra Dorville said: “The selection for the festival and then winning the award for Singing InKliptown has given the team the energy and the confidence to continue the journey. At Eat My Dust we love cinema too, so we will be back with more movies.”

Sandmann was also delighted with the turn of events: “Just want to thank you all for organising such a wonderful film festival. John Vlismas was a brilliant emcee as well. The amazing thing is that the Jozi Film Festival helped me to take myself seriously as a filmmaker in South Africa. You guys can expect an entry from me every year.”

According to Brendon Burmester, who organised the screenings with Lisa Henry and Shareen Anderson, the Jozi Film Festival is different from other festivals of its kind because of its drive to make films accessible to a wide audience and to attract those who don’t traditionally attend film festivals.

It was an “attempt to engage and inspire the ordinary people who make Joburg tick. With no intention of becoming the Cannes of Southern Africa, [the] Jozi Film Festival rather aims to reflect the energetic and creative vibe of the city and the continent and wants to encourage Joburgers to see their city as a fantastic place to meet new people, experience something uniquely Jozi and leave with a sense that we live in an incredible metropolis where there’s truly never a dull moment,” said the organisers.

Submissions for the Jozi Film Festival 2013 will open on 31 March. For more information, visit the event’s website.

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