Durban, South Africa: Raising the curtain at the 34th Durban International Film Festival, which is principally funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, is the challenging and evocative, yet humorous film, Of Good Report, from South African director Jahmil XT Qubeka. In what he describes as “a passionate homage to classic film noir”, Qubeka’s latest offering, which has its world premiere at the festival on July 18, tells the sombre tale of a small-town high-school teacher with a penchant for young girls. The director’s third feature is an hypnotically engaging journey into the soul of a mentally troubled man.

The trouble for Parker Sithole (Mothusi Magano) begins when he accepts an invitation to a drinking session at the local tavern. Here, he meets the undeniably gorgeous Nolitha Ngubane (Petronella Tshuma). Captivated by her beauty, Parker experiences an ecstasy he’s never known before and truly feels like a man reborn. From this mutual attraction, an illicit affair ensues. However, there ’s just one problem: the beautiful Nolitha is one of Parker’s pupils and just sixteen years old. Parker quickly spirals into a deep obsession that ultimately turns to a tragedy.

Six months later, the sociopathic Parker has moved on from his previous job. Trudging along the barren landscape, he stumbles upon an opportunity for a fresh start. According to a caption on an old strewn newspaper, there is a shortage of teachers in Zimbabwe. A qualified educator like him shouldn't struggle to find a post; after all, he does come ‘of good report’.

In Qubeka’s words, Of Good Report, which is produced by Mike Auret and Luzuko Dilima (Spier Films), “is a serial killer origins story about how a social misfit turns into an inadequate man hell-bent on satisfying his shameful lust. It is Little Red Riding Hood, told from the wolf’s perspective.”

The director of television programmes and documentaries for production houses such as Ochre Media and Urban Brew Studios, Qubeka’s documentary and feature film work has screened at festivals around the world. He has directed Talk to Me, an hour-long HIV/Aids documentary special with Sesame Street New York, which won the Peabody Award for best Actuality Programming. He also produced the low budget feature film uMalusi, which was released by Ster Kinekor in March 2009. His second feature, A Small Town Called Descent enjoyed its world premiere at the 31st Durban International Film Festival, and won the Founders' Award for Narrative Feature at the Pan African Film Festival.201

Says Peter Machen, newly appointed manager of the Durban International Film Festival: “We are extremely happy to be opening DIFF 2013 with Jahmil's brave and remarkable film. Of Good Report does so much more than simply telling a South African story – the film redefines the local filmmaking landscape and extends the language of African filmmaking while acknowledging the rich history of global cinema”.

The Durban International Film Festival takes place from July 18 – 28, 2013. The Festival includes 170 theatrical screenings, a full seminar/workshop programme as well as the Wavescape Film Festival and industry initiatives: the 6th Talent Campus Durban (in cooperation with the Berlin Talent Campus) and the 4th Durban FilmMart (the co-production market in partnership with the Durban Film Office), with the Wild Talk Africa Festival taking place in the city from July 23 to 26. 

The 34th Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with support by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and a range of other valued partners. 

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