Film Professor Martin Botha is the only Southern African member of the International Federation of Film Critics, the organization world renowned to send the most respected critics in world cinema to festivals (FIPRESCI: Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique).
Here’s what Botha had to say about Woodwind, the feature film by debutant director Fin Manjoo.
“Woodwind is by far, by far the best South African film,” said Botha.
“It is superbly crafted and a beautiful film with gorgeous cinematography that could win the best cinematography award too. It’s really a brilliant film! I said that this film should be up there with the best international films. It is by far the best South African film,” said Botha again.
The FIPRESCI critic was discussing the best films that played at the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival (CTIFMF), a South African festival that ran in mid-October 2017. The University of Cape Town professor served as a selector of the festival, having watched all the films. When asked what were the best films in CTIFMF, Botha picked his favourites.
“Sparrows, Virgin Mountain, Heartstone, A Father’s Will and Woodwind.”
The film A Father’s Will won the best film at the Durban International Film Festival earlier this year, beating competition from the likes of South African films Inxeba (The Wound), Vaya, The Whale Caller and Catching Feelings. Woodwind was only completed recently and first entered the CTIFMF instead of waiting nine months for a South African debut in Durban in July 2018.
“Woodwind is better than A Father’s Will. It is so brilliant!” said Botha. “It is a contender for the Best Film and Best Debut. Can it win both? I’ve seen that (multiple awards) happen at some festivals before, but (Botha stressed for the third time) Woodwind is by far, by far the best South African film,” he added.
Botha is a highly respected figure in South African cinema, having helped with the establishment of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). He’s written the book on South African film both figuratively and literally. With respect to all the films during the festival, Fin Pictures decided to only release the quote at the end of the festival, to share the appreciation of the film from an important FIPRESCI member.
Here’s Woodwind director Fin Manjoo’s latest feelings on the best South African films this year and Botha’s backing.
“Making a film is one of the most difficult challenges and I totally respect anyone who can pull it off. I’ve stated before that festivals are not about rivalries between films and directors. All South African filmmakers and members of this industry must work together and be united to continuously move our art to the next level. There’s been some highly regarded South African films in the past year already (before Woodwind‘s premiere) such as 5 Fingers for Marseille and The Wound. I wish them all success abroad because it will improve the reputation of SA film altogether.
“What Martin spoke to me about Woodwind (before the film’s were screened for the public) meant and still means so much to us because of his tremendous knowledge of world cinema and SA film. Martin was one of the first to watch the film (outside of our crew) since he was a selector in Cape Town’s festival.
“It’s not even enough to say that Woodwind is the best film because that’s just an ego trip. I’ve never been interested in awards or red carpets, but awards are important for others to position a film. What is important for me is that the message of Woodwind is heard by as many people around the world as possible, for audiences to feel this journey with Bonifaz, to heighten our perception of reality and our relationship with nature… to move culture forward through art. The point of festivals for me, is for filmmakers to come together with passionate film festival organizers, jury members and audiences, to all meet one another to discuss our art together in the name of cultural enhancement.”
All of the above mentioned SA films were categorized as belonging to the 2017 award season, with the exception of Woodwind which will move into 2018 because the film’s premiered after the end of September deadline for the year.
With the local Premiere done, having screened successfully to rave reviews at the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival, Fin Pictures is now turning their attention to screenings abroad in 2018. The South African commercial cinema release will follow after the international festival run.
Tags: 5 Fingers for Marseille, A Father’s Will, Cape Town International Film Market and Festival, Fin Pictures, Heartstone, South African films, Sparrows, The South African commercial cinema, The Wound, Virgin Mountain, Woodwind