6 South African films showing at Cannes this year

2018-05-09 11:53

Cape Town – The 71st annual Cannes Films Festival is in full swing. 

It kicked off on Tuesday, 8 May with a glitzy opening ceremony and will run through to Saturday, 19 May. 

The film festival brings together a mix of Hollywood A-listers and world cinema to the French Riveria.

Once again The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), will officially co-host the South African Pavilion.

“International film festivals are platforms that help promote South African content to the world and to see proudly South African films being selected to form part of the 71st Cannes official programme goes to show that the film industry in South Africa is doing something right,” said NFVF CEO, Ms Zama Mkosi in a press statement. 

Six South African films have been included in the programme. 

Here are the six films that will be screened:


Co-produced by South African producer Steven Markovitz and Afrobubblegum (Kenya).

Rafiki is based on the 2007 winner for the Caine short story prize, Jambula Tree. Written by Monica Arac de Nyeko, it tells the story of two teenage girls who fall in love in Uganda, where same-sex relationships are illegal. In the short story, they are spied on by a neighbour perched in a Jambula tree, whose fruit is used as a popular image for breasts in Uganda. Kahiu sets the tender adolescent love story in Kenya, challenging her country’s own stance on LGBTQI rights. 


Directed by Etienne Kallos and produced by Cinema Defacto (France) in co-production with Heretic (Greece), Lava Films (Poland), Spier Films (South Africa).

An isolated and conservative farming region in rural South Africa is the stronghold for Afrikaans white, minority culture, obsessed with strength and masculinity. In this world Janno exists - different, secretive and emotionally frail. One day his mother, who is fiercely religious, brings home Pieter, a hardened street orphan she wants to save. Janno is asked to make this stranger, his brother. The two boys begin a fight for power, heritage and parental love.


Directed by Samantha Nell and produced by Bongiwe Selane. The film has been selected for the La Fabrique Cinéma de l'Institut français, a programme tailored to assist young talented directors from emerging countries increase their international exposure.

In an old-age home, a conflict over skin colour reveals the cracks in the new South Africa. Ben lives comfortably amongst his own people in a Jewish old-age home in Johannesburg. The arrival of residents of colour shatters his reality. He is confronted by the headstrong Lebo as they vie for position within the home. Their mundane conflict pits the entire home and their own liberal children and grandchildren against each other. They all must realise how difficult it is to change.


Directed by Sibs Shingwe-La Mer, and co-produced by Chuanne Bloefield, Fares Ladjimi (French) and Gijs Kerbosch (Dutch). The film has been selected to the Atelier Cinéfondation, an international co-production forum aimed at enabling selected projects access to international financing to speed up the production process.

A post-apartheid South Africa is thrusted into a deep-rooted fear of an apocalyptic civil war as freedom fighter Nelson Mandela’s last breath nears. Situated beneath the grand Drakensberg Mountain range next to a traditional Zulu settlement, a puritanical Afrikaner community prepare to fight for their land, culture and lives as their enemy does the same. As the great racial war nears, various fractions of supremacist militia sound their calls drawing Pieter, a young white boy (13), into the hysteria by enlisting him in one of their camps. Meanwhile, fleeing from a dubious past in a burning Johannesburg, Thato (23), a young black man, arrives to the Zulu settlement where he will be drawn into an endless cycle of violence. In a time of mass paranoia and bloodshed, the two youths, from each side, must bare the scars of a nation's deepest wounds.


Directed by John Trengove and produced by Elias Ribeiro and Cait Pansegrouw. South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs 12) multi award winner, Inxeba/The Wound has been incorporated in the Canned Film Market as a framework of Producers Network programme case study.

Xolani, a lonely factory worker, joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best kept secret, Xolani's entire existence begins to unravel.


Directed by Weaam Williams and has been selected to showcase at the market screenings section.

This documentary is a deeply personal story, which examines the microcosm within the macrocosm and the legacy of intergenerational pain and dispossession of wealth. It is visually and aurally rich with moments of “fly on the wall’ perspective as well as access to nuanced moments of the Cape community.

Sources: NFVF, CallSheet, Cinefondation

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