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The very first South African Film Festival in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The South African Film Festival (SAFF) will present an engaging program of nine documentaries, five features and two short films when it returns from 12 to 24 May. The Festival will screen online to audiences across Australia and New Zealand with special in-cinema screenings in Sydney and Melbourne. In 2022, in-cinema screenings will also be held in New Zealand.

All ticket proceeds go to supporting Education without Borders in programmes that assist young South Africans in some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities. After COVID-19 has ravaged communities across the globe, the funds generated from this year’s Festival will go a long way in supporting vulnerable groups in South Africa. The films selected for the South African Film Festival reflect South Africa’s diverse population, rich tradition of struggle for democracy and equality, and complex political and economic reality.

Festival Director Claire Jankelson said, "South Africa produces some of the richest stories for cinema the world over. Much like the country itself, the films that come from South Africa are all at once challenging, bold, beautiful and heartwarming."

"This year’s line-up of films presents an exciting mix of daring narratives, striking cinematography and deep explorations into South African culture and community," said Jankelson.

Feature films in the Festival line-up include South Africa’s moving Oscar submission Toorbos. Based on a novel by celebrated Afrikaans author Dalene Matthee, Toorbos documents a woman blossoming against the destruction of her environment.

The feature film, Barakat, offers a rare and insightful glimpse into the heart of the Muslim, Malay, mixed-race community of Cape Town, seen through the prism of one family’s travails as they grapple with the ups and downs of life, love and familial relationships. Riding with Sugar is a zany and action-packed film about a young refugee's quest for BMX glory and the pursuit of identity, safety, happiness and love. Raw, confronting and emotionally charged, Tess, is adapted from Tracey Farren’s award-winning novel "Whiplash," and follows a 20-year-old prostitute and addict in Cape Town whose life is turned upside-down by an unexpected pregnancy. For Love and Broken Bones is an unexpectedly tender gangster flick where a ruthless debt collector with a penchant for jazz, falls in love with a wedding planner, who also happens to be his latest assignment.

Four documentaries examine South Africa’s apartheid, its history and impacts on the future of the country. Blindside covers the 1974 boycott-breaking tour of South Africa by the British rugby team the Lions and how the sports boycott ultimately proved to be a powerful tool in helping to dismantle apartheid. Taking a sobering look at recent history, A New Country explores the aftermath of apartheid and the fractured contemporary society still battling its legacies. Winner of the Florence Film Award for Best Original Story, District Six tells the story of the forced removal of a family from District Six in Cape Town, a once thriving city that was declared a whites-only area during apartheid, and their restitution journey. Good Hope is a positive look at the future, exploring what the post -apartheid "Born Free" generation are doing to create a brighter future.

Other documentaries in the Festival include: Influence, a revealing look at the immoral and weaponised influence that PR firm Bell Pottinger had in South Africa and the world; Mama Africa, which tracks the life of artist and activist Miriam Makebawhose legendary singing became a passionate message of black liberation to the world.; and SanDance, that follows Southern Africa’s oldest tribe, the San, and the importance of dance in their culture.

Two powerful shorts feature in the Festival line-up. Sides of a Horn uses a hybrid of dramatic and documentary styles to look at rhino poaching through two fictional antagonists, a ranger and a poacher, juxtaposing their points of view of a poaching incident that puts them both at risk. Letter Reader follows a twelve-year-old boy who becomes his village’s letter reader.

The single premiere screenings are just $8.00 each or you can see all 16 films for $60.00. Tickets and full line-up of films available at


What: South African Film Festival 2021

When: Wednesday 12 May to Monday 24 May 2021

Where: online at

Tickets: $8.00 single screening. $60.00 for full program, single person and $80 more than one person.

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