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9 must-see movies at this year's Durban International Film Festival

updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
South African writer, producer and director Kira Ivanoff offers a compelling insight into the world of the highly venomous snake. South African writer, producer and director Kira Ivanoff offers a compelling insight into the world of the highly venomous snake.
Black Mamba: Kiss of Death
Lady Baboon
Miners Shot Down
The Two of Us
A Snake gives birth to a Snake
Living Funeral
  • The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is currently on until July 27, 2014
  • DIFF, one of the oldest film festivals held annually in Africa, will screen 40 feature-length movies this year
  • CNN takes a look at the line-up to see what's being showcased this year
  • Did we miss one? Tell us what film you want to watch in the comments section

(CNN) -- The long-running Durban International Film Festival is back and this year it's offering cinema lovers a host of must-see movies.

From Kenyan crime thrillers and Ghanaian romantic comedies to insightful documentaries celebrating the achievements of Nelson Mandela or 20 years of democracy in South Africa, festival goers are spoiled for choice.

Overall, the 35th DIFF includes more than 200 theatrical screenings of local and international productions, including 40 feature-length films, 38 short films and more than 50 documentaries. It is also showcasing a selection of some of the best environmental and wildlife movies as part of the Durban Wild Talk Africa Film Festival.

Here, African Voices highlights some of the films screened at DIFF this year -- the festival runs from July 17 -27; for the full schedule, click here.

Feature films

Veve -- dir. Simon Mukali, Kenya & Germany, 2014

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From the award-winning producers of 2012's hit "Nairobi Half Life," comes a new crime thriller set around the khat -- a mild narcotic crop -- industry in Kenya. "Veve" sees popular actress Lizz Njagah take on the character of Esther, the lonely wife of a corrupt local politician who falls for the town's bad boy, Kenzo. Unbeknownst to her, Kenzo is at the heart of a scheme to bring about the downfall of Esther's Khat kingpin spouse.

Difret -- dir. Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, Ethiopia, 2013

A film from Zeresenay Berhane Mehari and executive producer Angelina Jolie, the 99-minute feature is based on a true story which deftly examines the issues faced today by women and girls in rural Ethiopia. Protagonist Hirut is a teenager kidnapped as she makes her way home from school. Tension mounts as she faces the increasing prospect of rape by her male kidnappers. Luckily, the astute young woman manages to steal a rifle and escape, but not before killing one of her would-be rapists. As local justice falls on the side of the male perpetrators, only one person, the head of a local not-for-profit, fights to save the young teen's life.

Read: Best African films of 21st Century

The Two of Us -- dir. Ernest Nkosi, South Africa, 2014

South African film "The Two of Us" makes its world premiere at this year's DIFF. First-time filmmaker Ernest Nkosi tells the story of a tempestuous sibling relationship between Thulas and Zanele and their lives in the Alexandra township. Burdened by a childhood of observing his sister's abuse, Thulas develops an overprotective need to help his sister which comes to a head when Zanele falls in love with an older man. Themes accessible to an international audience but with a distinctly local flavor, it is a strong directorial debute from Nkosi.

Short films

Living Funeral -- dir. Udoka Oyeka, Nigeria, 2013

A 21-minute short, "Living Funeral" is a powerful story of courage in the face of imminent death. Nigerian director Udoka Oyeka tells the tale of Yvette, a young woman diagnosed with terminal breast cancer who stoutly helps her family come to terms with the inevitable by holding her own mock funeral.

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Wegkruipertjie -- dir. Chatre Chafford, South Africa, 2013

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"Wegkruipertjie" (which translates from Afrikaans to mean "Hide and Go Seek") is a brilliant stop-motion animation directed by Chatre Chafford. The 10-minute short tells the story of seven-year-old Anna, who is struggling to overcome the loss of her mother during a farm raid. Grappling with intense loneliness, the young girl withdraws into an imaginary world making friends with "Bersie."

Wild Talk Africa

Black Mamba: The Kiss of Death -- dir. Kira Ivanoff, South Africa, 2013

"Black Mamba: The Kiss of Death" cautiously explores the world of one of Africa's most poisonous reptiles, the Black Mamba. Directed by Kira Ivanoff, the 50-minute doco offers a secret insight into an often feared creature trying to find a home to incubate her eggs while avoiding her biggest enemy -- man.

Lady Baboon, dir. Adrian Cale, South Africa, 2014

Meet Rita Miljo, an unusual elderly German woman who lives with 500 baboons. While many see the primates as pests, Miljo has spent decades trying to save them. South African director Adrian Cale tells the story of a conservationist willing to do whatever it takes. A heartwarming insight into protecting "nature's unwanted little people."


Miners Shot Down -- dir. Rehad Desai, South Africa, 2014

An 85-minute documentary brought to life by director/producer Rehad Desai. The film follows the August 2012 Marikana miners' strike in which over 30 employees were gunned down by police while protesting for better pay.

A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake -- dir. Michael Lessac, South Africa & the U.S., 2014

Michael Lessac's latest film follows a group of actors as they embark on a world tour of "Truth in Translation," a play which looks at the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" established in South Africa after the abolition of Apartheid. As the troop travel through former war-torn lands, including Northern Ireland, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the documentary explores the theme of national reconciliation. The highly-anticipated film, which also features new music from jazz legend Hugh Masekela, will make its world premiere at this year's festival.

Read: Best African films of 21st Century
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Watch: The rise of Lupia Nyong'o
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