George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Going Global: Film at Mason and the Durban International Film Festival + KwaZulu-Natal University

September 15, 2020

Durban Film Festival poster

This fall, Film at Mason participated in the Durban International Film Festival along with KwaZulu-Natal University. Students, faculty and staff from both universities collaborated on a number of events and panels, sharing ideas, documentary, animated, and fiction films, and commitments to collaborative arts and social justice.

The Durban International Film Festival, running from September 10-20, 2020, takes place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. The Festival's virtual format in its 41st year allowed for an unprecedented number of interactions. The multifaceted program was coordinated by Film at Mason's Production Manager Abbesi Akhamie and Sakhile Gumede, Project Officer at KwaZulu-Natal University's Centre for Creative Arts.

See this year's programme, wherein participants are thrilled to appear alongside Treach and Ice T.

The many exchanges included multiple sessions with the IsiZulu Virtual Script Writing Workshop, as Film at Mason professors shared their expertise students in South Africa: Nikyatu Jusu discussed how to develop a “Pitch Document,” Amanda Kraus spoke on “Structuring the Short Script,” Peter Kimball presented on “Structure is Character,” and Samirah Alkassim talked about “Cultures and Mechanics of Screenwriting.” 

In addition, Film at Mason alumnus Tony Marquez was a selection juror for the IsiZulu Virtual Script Writing Workshop, offering detailed notes on each entrant's work.

Film at Mason major Taj Kokayi and alumna Nicole Clavel served as jurors for the "Cell Phone Competition," assessing short films by students made on their phones. Abbesi Akhaamie was a juror for the Durban International Film Festival's Feature Narratives competition, and Film at Mason Interim Director Cynthia Fuchs was a juror for the Feature Documentaries.

Our collaborations also included a lively and informative Film Student Discussion between KwaZulu-Natal University and George Mason University, hosted by Dr. Michelle Stewart, Cynthia Fuchs, and Abbesi Akhamie. Mason Film students shared their work (including in this year's "Best of Film at Mason," with filmmaking students at KwaZulu-Natal University.

Students who participated on the Zoom conversation included Jesse Benitez, creator of the experimental observational short documentary, "nightlife," Matthew Vargas, who made the short fiction film  "Clementine," Rhyan Elliott,  the filmmaker behind "Endings," and new Film at Mason graduate Alaa Zabara, whose senior project "Selahy," is on its way  to film festivals.

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