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Special award for Durban International Film Festival

UKZN received the prestigious MEC Special Award at this year's Simon "Mabhunu" Sabela Film and Television Awards at the Playhouse Theatre for its Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).

The awards, established in 2013 to promote talent in KwaZulu-Natal, are named after Sabela, who was South Africa's first black film director.

The MEC Award is presented to an outstanding individual, group or particular initiative that contributed significantly towards developing the film and television industry in the province.

UKZN was recognised by the KZN Film Commission for pioneering the last 40 years of DIFF, South Africa's longest-running film festival.

Said Professor Nana Poku, UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal: "The university is grateful to the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission for bestowing on us this prestigious award. It is indeed a compliment and I thank you on behalf of UKZN and the many people at the Centre for Creative Arts whose hard work and dedication over the past 40 years have kept this worthy initiative alive. It is made even more special by the acknowledgement of being the longest running local film festival, and we are honoured by the recognition."

Jackie Motsepe of the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission said: "As DIFF celebrates 40 years, the Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs, as well as the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, saw it fitting that UKZN be recognised for the sterling work it has done in developing and maintaining a world standard African event."

Motsepe identified the annual DIFF as a festival that film-makers all over the country attend as it gives them an opportunity to engage with colleagues from across the continent and around the world, while also providing a platform on which they are able to develop and profile their film projects while building their networks.

"It is a festival that filmmakers aspire to attend as it has a good and solid reputation, and provides a platform where African filmmakers can interface with each other as well as with those from around the world," said Motsepe. "International filmmakers attend the festival as it enables them to identify new emerging projects and talent on the continent, which assists them in programming their events and identifying potential partners for projects that they could potentially support."

UKZN Film and Media Studies lecturer in the School of Arts, Mzwandile Makhanya, won a Simon "Mabhunu" Sabela Film and Television Award in the Best Student Film category.

The winning film, UBIZO, is about a shy, self-conscious theatre caretaker who has to overcome his greatest fears in order to fight to realise his dream of becoming a professional dancer.

Words: Melissa Mungroo