AFDA 3rd year graduation: Film-makers of the future impress

December 4, 2015 4:47 pm

Thank you to Estelle Simkins for this article on the blog:

LAST weekend I was privileged to be able to watch the next generation of Durban film-makers showcase their work at the AFDA Durban 3rd year graduation festival.

Peter Machen, former director of the Durban International Film Festival, and I were asked to act as the external critics for the film school, based in Glen Anil.

We started out watching third year students perform the Greek tragedy, Iphigenia at Aulis, at the Square Space Theatre of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College campus on Friday, November 27. This post, however, is dedicated to the films created by the third years and screened at Suncoast on Saturday, November 28.

Creatively we got to see everything from animation to dark comedy, bleak futuristic movies and tales that reminded one of the incredible power that films have to move those watching.

My personal pick of the festival was Nathan Rice’s stunning film, Homeless, starring Cebo Zikhali, which tells the story of a young man and his younger brother, who have been forcefully evicted from their shack. Left with nothing but a few meagre possessions and the older boy’s precious trumpet they set out along Durban’s railway tracks in search of a new home and a better life.

Zikhali delivers a beautifully judged performance as a young man desperate to keep his little brother’s hopes of a better future alive, while struggling with his own demons: his grief at the death of his mother and his inability to provide for what remains of his family.

Rice’s direction is excellent, as is the cinematography. I think this young man is definitely a talent to watch.

Rice is nominated for an AFDA award for direction and screenwriting and the film has nods for best 3rd year film, the CLVA Award and the AFDA Critics Award.

Watch the trailer for Homeless here:

I also enjoyed watching Death of Innocent, a rather dark comedy, directed by Michael H. Struwig, which centres on Pieter, a white farmer, who, fuelled with booze, takes revenge on the robbers who broke into his home, stole his possessions and murdered his domestic worker, Innocent, only to find himself staring down the barrel of a gun wielded by Innocent’s nephew, Sipho, aka Super Sipho.

Struwig, who plays Pieter, delivers a fabulous performance and little Phiwokuhle Cele lights up the camera lens as Super Sipho.

The film has nominations for sound design, screenplay, directing, best 3rd year film, the audience award and AFDA Critics award – and I predict we will be seeing a lot more from young Mr Struwig in the coming years.

Another festival highlight was Running with Angels, a wonderful film by Liana Hassim, about a young Muslim girl’s desire to say a proper goodbye to her much loved grandfather, in defiance of the rules of Islam.

Central to the film’s success is the delightful performance of Sayana David as Ameera, but it also has excellent cinematography and visual effects and I was not surprised that Temara Prem was nominated for the award for visual effects.

Running with Angels is also nominated for the audience award, while Matthew Couperthwaite has a nomination for best producer and Hassim for best director and best screenplay, making her another talent to watch.

Watch the trailer for Running with Angels here:

Another young actor who is likely to be lighting up our screens in the coming years is Trent Moffett, who played the lead role of Alex, a boxer who is struggling with alcoholism and his relationship with an abusive father in Charles Matthews’ White Knuckle. He’s riveting to watch and well deserving of the best film actor that he has received.

The film also boasts superb cinematography and I’m delighted that Luke Ochse was nominated for his work on White Knuckle.

Watch the trailer for White Knuckle here:

Other great films shown at the festival were:

  • Dust, which centres on the journey of two brothers whose lives have been shattered. Their mother has died from ebola and they are trying to get the last bus out of Maritzburg before the city is placed under quarantine.
  • Inxeba Lendoda, about an aggressive, crippled man (MUZI) ho takes out his frustrations of the world to his eight-year-old daughter, Mbali.
  • Finding Infinity, which explores the state of those who have to offer emotional, mental and physical support to family members with cancer. It looks at the strain that is put on relationships when the peace is gone and the worst is taking over; when you have to confront yourself for someone else.
  • The Memory House, which centres on Kaiyl, a lost girl who attempts to commit suicide and then finds herself in a house where she has to face her greatest demons from the past.I was extremely impressed by the films on show and reminded once again that short films are truly the tiny gems of the movie industry.

Check out all the nominees below.

2015 AFDA Durban Graduation Festival Award Nominations


  • Best performance in a stage production (Female): Sinegugu Nxumalo – Iphigenia at Aulis; Alisha Authbehari – Iphigenia at Aulis.
  • Best performance in a stage production (Male): Arauna Jacobs – Iphigenia at Aulis; Cebo Zikhali – Iphigenia at Aulis.
  • Best stage production: Iphigenia at Aulis.


  • Best Performance in a television production (Male): Thabani Maphumulo – Izimfihlo.
  • Best Performance in a television production (Female): Sindisiwe Zondo – Izimfihlo; Bathabile Ngxingweni – Imizwa; Thembeka Mnguni – Imizwa; Immaculate Mlambo – Imizwa.
  • Best television editor: Lisa-Marie Pyanee – Imizwa; Siphamandla Msimang – Izimfihlo.
  • Best script for a television production: Mpho Mabasa – Izimfihlo; Samkelisiwe Gcabashe & Londiwe Myende – Imizwa.
  • Best broadcast design for a television production: Siphamandla Msimang – Izimfihlo.
  • Best multi-camera director: Thiloshni Lareina Annamallay – Imizwa; Lindokukhle Khuzwayo.
  • Best television producer: Roumayne Pillay – Imizwa; Gugulethu Phili – Izimfihlo.
  • Best television production: Izimfihlo; Imizwa.


  • Best Performance in a film (Female): Erin Passmore – White Knuckle; Tayla-Kate van Rooyen – The Memory House; Shannon Newton – Finding Infinity.
  • Best Performance in a film (Male): Peter de Klerk – Dust; Trent Moffett – White Knuckle
  • Best cinematographer: Lucky Mthembu – Inxeba Lendoda; Luke Ochse – White Knuckle; Brad McGee – Dust.
  • Best costume, make-up and styling in film: Bronwyn Whitehead – Dust; Milan de Wet – Finding Infinity.
  • Best visual effects: Georgina Poisson – The Memory House; Temara Prem – Running with Angels.
  • Best sound designer: Darren Jaynarayan – Death of Innocent; Thabo Mhlamvu – Breaking free.
  • Best production designer in film: Hannah Sieweke – Finding Infinity.
  • Best screenplay: Liana Hassim – Running with Angels; Michael Struwig – Death of innocent; Nathan Rice – Homeless.
  • Best animator: Naomi Gumede – Syncytium; Kyle Sweetman – Breaking free.
  • Best producer: Lethuxolo Shabalala – Dust; Matthew Couperthwaite – Running with Angels.
  • Best director: Nathan Rice – Homeless; Liana Hassim – Running with Angels; Michael Struwig – Death of Innocent.
  • Best 3rd year animation: Syncytium; Breaking Free.
  • Best 3rd year film: Death of Innocent; Homeless; White Knuckle. 
  • CLVA Award: Hannah Sieweke; Carla Gailey; Londiwe Myende; Arauna Jacobs.
  • Audience award: Running with Angels; Homeless; Death of Innocent.
  • AFDA Critics Award: Homeless; Death of Innocent; White Knuckle; Dust.

The Winners

Bathabile Ngxingweni, Imizwa

Best Performance in a television production (Male)
Thabani Maphumulo, Izimfihlo

Best Performance in a film (Female)
Erin Passmore, White Knuckle

Best Performance in a film (Male)
Trent Moffett, White Knuckle

Best performance in a stage production (Female)
Sinegugu Nxumalo, Iphigenia at Aulis

Best performance in a stage production (Male)
Cebo Zikhali, Iphigenia at Aulis

Best stage production
Iphigenia at Aulis, Winner

Best broadcast design for a television production
Siphamandla Msimang, Izimfihlo

Best script for a television production
Samkelisiwe Gcabashe & Londiwe Myende, Imizwa

Best Multicamera director
Thiloshni Lareina Annamallay, Imizwa

Best television editor
Lisa-Marie Pyanee, Imizwa

Best television producer
Gugulethu Phili, Izimfihlo

Best television production

Best sound designer
Darren Jaynarayan, Death of Innocent

Best visual effects
Temara Prem, Running with Angels

Best production designer in film
Hannah Sieweke, Finding Infinity

Best costume, make-up and styling in film
Bronwyn Whitehead, Dust

Best screenplay
Nathan Rice, Homeless

Best cinematographer
Luke Ochse, White Knuckle
Brad McGee, Dust

Best animator
Naomi Gumede, Syncytium

Best director
Nathan Rice, Homeless

Best producer
Matthew Couperthwaite, Running with Angels

Best 3rd year animation

Best 3rd year film

CLVA Award
Arauna Jacobs

Audience award

AFDA Critics Award

To view the online film festival please visit

Meet Estelle Sinkins, AFDA Durban Graduation Festival critic…

Estelle Sinkins

Estelle Sinkins was member on our Stage and Film Critics Panel for the AFDA Durban Graduation Festival .Estelle has just stepped down as Arts Editor of The Witness, the oldest newspaper in SA. She is, however, continuing to work as the paper’s Books Editor and in a freelance capacity.
Estelle has also founded a blog,, which is devoted to the arts community of South Africa.

Born in Ladysmith, Estelle has been a journalist for the past 23 years, starting as a general reporter for her hometown newspaper, the Ladysmith Gazette. While at the Gazette she was awarded the Journalist of the Year Award from the Caxton Group for her coverage of the Kallie Delport massacre.
Estelle was later promoted and transferred to Estcourt where she set and ran Caxton’s Estcourt and Midlands News. A stint at the Highway Mail group followed, during which she worked on the Berea Mail, Highway Mail, Northglen News and Queensburgh News.
A desire to travel saw Estelle head to the United Kingdom with her husband, Graydon. While in the UK she worked for the Trinity Mirror Group of newspapers on their regional weekly papers, the Bucks Examiner, Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Slough and Windsor Express.
Throughout her career Estelle has had a passion for the arts and has been fortunate to be able to cover all facets of the arts at the newspapers where she has worked. That culminated in her appointment as Arts Editor of The Witness.

Estelle was educated at Ladysmith High School, and then did a National Diploma in Journalism at the Durban University of Technology.
In addition to the Journalist of the Year Award, Estelle was runner-up for investigative journalist of the year for her work on the Kallie Delport shootings; received an honorary award for her commitment to the Highway Mail; and a citation from the Rotary Club for her commitment to the arts community in KZN.

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