Best of SA movies at fest

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

From Wednesday to October 5 movie lovers will flock to the Apollo Cinema to see some of the ground-breaking films at the annual Apollo Film Festival.

On offer are cutting-edge, inimitably South African films that have travelled abroad to win Oscars, Golden and Silver Bears and a golden Stallion.

But nothing makes a film more relevant or poignant than seeing the flickering images of South Africa's contemporary reality reflected in the eyes of local residents from the sleepy hamlet of Victoria West.

Deep in the heart of the Karoo lies a little gem of tranquillity.

Established during the 1890's as a stopover between Cape Town and Kimberley for intrepid diamond seekers, Victoria West is home to the historic Apollo Theatre.

Situated in Church Street the Apollo is the last intact art deco cinema in South Africa and a heritage site.

A Greek immigrant, Andrew Basil Aristides, built the theatre in 1923.

But by the 1950s Victoria West's heydays had passed and from then the theatre was closed down.

In the 1990s David and Gail Robbins reopened the theatre.

Under the auspices of the newly formed Apollo Development Association, a community project aimed at youth and economic development through culture and tourism, they held the first Apollo Film Festival dedicated to African cinema in 2000.

Eight years later, and now dedicated to screening the best of South African cinema, the festival is still going strong.

It's continued existence remains a beacon of hope to local people and all South African filmmakers.

This year, the Apollo line-up includes nine features, 14 documentaries and 24 short films.

Raising topical subjects that are particularly pertinent to South Africa, but have universal appeal, the films individually touch on crime, gambling, love against all odds and the rise of the underdog.

Also the results of violence, a dark look at a dark past, the trepidation of match-fixing, the inspirational influence of football, horses and surfing and the choices that will make up tomorrow.

Judging this eclectic mix is world-renowned filmmaker Khalo Matabane, award-winning producer-director Bridget Pickering and film journalist Theresa Smith.

Film-making guests include the award-winning talents of Junaid Ahmed, Tiny Mungwe, Dylan Valley, Tendeka Matatu, Rina Jooste, Asivhanzi Mathaba, Frans Cronjé, Meg Rickards and Michel J Rix.