The Dream of Shahrazad wins at Durban Intl Film Festival

Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 Jul 2015

The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) awarded Francois Verster’s The Dream of Shahrazad the prize for Best South African Documentary

The Dream of Shahrazad
Still from The Dream of Shahrazad (photo: courtesy of DCAF)

Francois Verster received the prize for the Best South African Documentary for his latest film The Dream of Shahrazad at the The Durban International Film Festival, which concluded Sunday 27 July.

The Dream of Shahrazad addresses life post revolution and the heartbreak experienced due to recent developments in Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon’s social and political spheres.

It was praised in the jury’s official statement for being ambitious as well as for the filmmakers pushing out of their comfort zones and bringing mythology into the centre of modernity.

The film premiered in November 2014 at the 27th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, which features the best works of documentary filmmakers.

It was awarded the Al-Husseini Abou-Deif Prize for Best Freedom Film at Egypt’s Luxor African Film Festival, was screened recently in Cairo’s Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) and London’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, as well as other international festivals.

The Dream of Shahrazad employs music, politics and storytelling, presenting stories in the style of the literary classic Arabian Nights, using its main character Shahrazad as a metaphor.

The film’s multiple characters include a youth orchestra conductor, a Cairene storytelling troupe, a troubled Lebanese actress, as well as various others, all employing art for a new political use, in addition to exploring how creativity can be used to fight oppression.

Francois Verster is an award-winning South African documentary director whose films have won awards, most notably an Emmy for Outstanding Cultural and Artistic Achievement in 2006 for A Lion’s Trail.

Pavement Aristocrats (1998), When the War is Over (2002), The Mother’s House (2006) and Sea Point Days (2009) are Verster’s other films, which mostly tackle social injustices, while taking a personal approach to delivering people’s stories and experiences.

His Cape Town based production company Undercurrent Film & Television has been producing documentary programmes for local and international markets since 1998.


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