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Top 5 - AFDA Graduate Film Festival 2016 (CT)

Here are Spling's Top 5 short films from the 2016 AFDA Graduation Film Festival held in Cape Town at the Labia Theatre... to watch these student short films online, click on the link below each review to be redirected to their official page on AFDA's website and then click on the 'View Production' button towards the bottom right.


Christmas Spirit is a dark comedy about an abrasive family, who are anticipating a visit from their Christmassy yet much-hated "Grandpa". This madcap short film has a similar tone to the BBC sitcom, My Family, yet takes the Christmas motif to new depths of dysfunction as the festive decorations become a symbol for their disdain for "Grandpa".

The filmmakers have cleverly balanced horror and comedy that recalls the work of Sam Raimi and Edgar Wright through their knack for irreverence and surprise. While ambitious, they manage to deck this Christmas tree with some sparkling comedy and over-the-top horror. Smart writing, great timing, relatable themes, convincing special effects and sharp comedy performances make this despicable laugh fest truly special as "Christmas Spirit" takes on a whole new meaning.

Watch Christmas Spirit Online


The Fall is a gripping psychological thriller about an award-winning photojournalist who suffers a nervous breakdown. By means of aerial photography and CBD backdrops, Cape Town becomes a character in this elegant and epic film, which broaches social alienation, the grey area of photojournalistic integrity and its repercussions as addressed in The Bang Bang Club.

Two excellent co-leads drive the intensity of this dizzying drama, which seems to have taken inspiration from films like Fight Club. The hard-hitting soundtrack, unorthodox cinematography and surreal flashbacks whip up a frenzy of emotion, which spirals upward to the big lump-in-the-throat reveal. Sleek visuals, seamless special effects, pangs of turmoil and a complete story, this short film could easily be extrapolated into a feature film.

Watch The Fall Online


Darling, You're Mine is a powerful period piece drama that goes behind-the-scenes to reveal the dark underside of Hollywood. The industry has a shady history of discrimination, encapsulated in biographies like Trumbo, where social injustices become the norm. Elegantly shot and sensitively scripted, this harrowing drama shows the disgusting abuse of power and inherent gender inequality of the system as experienced by a young starlet trying to forge her film career.

Solid performances, authentic sets, wardrobe, make up and impressive production values make it seem like an excerpt from a much broader work. A real-life human nature horror, this immersive drama ends on a poignant note with a statistic that makes this '50s short film haunting and powerful. The ambiguous title, Darling, You're Mine plays into the sweet etiquette of the era and leaves you with a bitter afterthought that brings you back to the here and now.

Watch Darling, You're Mine Online


Numb is an intimate drama and portrait of a long time couple whose relationship is put to the test when one of them is relegated to a wheelchair and crippled even further by his feelings of inadequacy. We journey with Griffin, a gregarious, go-getting downhill biker with a big future as he is quickly reduced to an uncertain, self-doubting and pitiful husk of a man.

While the cinematography is beautifully composed and silky, Numb will be best remembered for two thoughtful, nuanced and sensitive performances. It's a heartbreaking and all-too-real drama that provokes thought and evokes emotion, making every second count in completing a convincing character transition. Mature writing underpins this honest and restrained short film about a man dealing with post traumatic stress disorder.

Watch Numb Online


It's no secret, Blue Midnight has been inspired by Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive. A commanding lead performance makes this a compelling watch. While sparsely scripted, stylised shots keep it moody and visually-stimulating, reinforced by the oppressive air created by the soundtrack. The familiarity carries over into other films like Crash and Taken as elements involving father and daughter coincide.

Diners, bars, gas stations... it exists in a universal Edward Hopper dimension, where the bakkie is the only real thing that anchors it in South Africa. The naming convention parallel with Blue Velvet is no accident. This film imbues a sleek, surreal and seething tone with sound design that seems on the cusp of tripping into Lynchland. While heavily influenced by other filmmakers, it plays into its enticing title, making you wish there was more...

Watch Blue Midnight Online

While they didn't quite make the Top 5, these short films deserve a special mention: the classy social issue drama Full Service, the Hollywood horror Alice, the maniacal What Goes Bump in the Night, the ethereal Crisis at the Summit and visually compelling character portrait, Tom.

Spling, now the Galileo's Resident Movie Critic

This year, Spling has taken up the post of resident movie critic at the The Galileo Open Air Cinema in Cape Town for the 2016/2017 season. Widely regarded as one of Cape Town's most exciting summer experiences, "The Galileo" has become a firm favourite with Capetonians and tourists, who want to enjoy a social evening in a beautiful location and watch a movie under the stars. From 31 October until 29 April 2017, moviegoers will be able to attend outdoor screenings at 22 spectacular venues around town and the surrounding winelands.

Spling Galileo Resident Movie Critic

As resident movie critic, Spling has been entrusted with selecting his "Galileo Pick of the Week", which involves him identifying and reviewing what he deems to be the best film for each calendar week of the season. Born and raised in Cape Town, a long-time movie reviewer at Cape Town lifestyle and media portal, 2Oceansvibe.com, and presenter of Talking Movies on Cape Town's very own Fine Music Radio, Spling is ideally positioned to partner with the Galileo Open Air Cinema.

Check out his first Pick of the Week... and stay tuned for more!

Want to experience the Galileo for yourself, visit the SPL!NG fan page to stand a chance of winning a double ticket.

Find out more information about what to expect at the Galileo Open Air Cinema.

Spling's Galileo Pick of the Week: Finding Nemo

Spling's Pick of the Week - Finding Nemo at Muldersvlei Estate


In its time, Finding Nemo was a game-changer, the pinnacle of animation heralded by Pixar. Having already raised the bar with Monsters Inc, they delivered yet another hugely entertaining animated adventure comedy for all ages. The misadventures of young clown fish, Nemo, have been beautifully captured by a smart, funny and touching script; brilliant voice casting; charming vocal performances; spectacular animation; comprehensive direction and an emotive soundtrack.

There's very little to fault in this prime example of film-making, which cleverly mingles adult themes into a format traditionally reserved for children. Entertaining, smart, endearing and hilarious, it's no wonder that this film still serves as a calling card for Pixar today.

This animated family classic is showing under the stars at The Galileo Open Air Cinema.


Spling to Adjudicate at AFDA Graduation Festival 2016

AFDA, South Africa’s only Oscar-winning film, television and performance school, is proud to host their annual graduation festival produced by Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban 3rd year undergraduate and 4th year postgraduate students. This year the festival will proudly showcase a record 91 productions from the respective AFDA campuses, including 60 live action short films, 11 pilot television shows, 11 live music performance shows and 9 theatre productions.

All the productions are assessed by industry professionals, AFDA learning staff members and most importantly the public. Spling has been invited to serve as a judge on the critics panel again this year, after adjudicating at AFDA's 2014 and 2015 graduation festivals. Here are his Top 5 films from the 2015 graduation festival and the speech he delivered at last year's graduation ceremony, where he presented the Critic's Award.

The graduation production constitutes 50% of the complete students assessment for the year. If you want to see the best up and coming future talent in the South African entertainment industry, the AFDA Graduation Festival 2016 is for you.

AFDA Graduation Festival 2016

Johannesburg Campus 17-26 November Performance School 17- 26 Nov / Venue: AFDA campus, Red Roof Theatre. Television School 23-24 Nov / Venue: AFDA campus, L1 Film School 25-26 Nov / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Rosebank

Cape Town Campus 21-26 November
Performance School 21-25 Nov / Venue: 228 on Lower Main, AFDA Theatre Television School 26 Nov / Venue: Labia Theatre Film School 26 Nov / Venue: Labia Theatre

Durban Campus 18-26 November
Performance School 18 Nov / Venue: Durban Campus (Actors Sudio) 22 Nov / Venue: Wushwini Centre of Arts and Heritage Television School 25 – 26 Nov / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Gateway Film School 25-26 / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Gateway

On 28 November 2016 the annual AFDA Online Festival goes live online giving you an opportunity to watch and rate the productions. In the meantime, follow the progress of all the AFDA 2016 productions at the AFDA Graduation Festival OnlineView previous AFDA Graduation Festival productions. Watch AFDA’s Top 21 graduate films since 1994.

The Craft Opinion Brewery (T.C.O.B.) #17 by Leonidas Michael


The retailers have finally succeeded in impressing on me that Christmas is coming. And, having seen the light (or lights), I decided that this instalment of T.C.O.B. would feature Jesus Christ.

Firstly, a word about T.C.O.B. instalments: this will be the last of the current series. My thanks to all who taken the time to read these seventeen essays on film appreciation and related pleasures. Hopefully you have gained from it. You can stay in touch by following T.C.O.B. on twitter @TCOB_capetown and on facebook at @TCOBcapetown.

I return to Jesus Christ, or rather to the portrayal of the man in a film which I have seen more than three times and can therefore recommend in good conscience. Theology is not used in T.C.O.B.’s catechism. But I believe that art, when it is good, is deeply spiritual. This, in my opinion, justifies an attempt to understand Christ and his word by means of an actor’s interpretation in a film.

The original title of the film I propose we examine is Jesus Christus Erlöser – Christ the Redeemer. It was shot in 1971 in Berlin under the direction of Peter Geyer and stars the notorious Klaus Kinski. It is very easy to find, either in the original German or with subtitles. A word of warning, however: it is not about Jesus Christ Superstar. The Christ which Kinski portrays is “not the official Church-Jesus, tolerated by bankers, generals, politicians and other representatives of power, only to be slapped across the face as soon as he stops playing his ascribed role.” This Jesus rejects dogma and ideology. He does not have a racial identity. He does not belong to any party – not even the Christian party.

Kinski is detested, if not more than, then at least as much as he is adulated. With his unorthodox interpretation of the Christ he was always going to arouse indignation. Furthermore, he does not disguise himself for the role. He appears in a floral/polka-dot shirt, wide-bottom jeans and shoes with big heels – as one does in 1971 – and speaks in modern or at least non-biblical vernacular. “The police are looking for me,” he announces. The lack of distinction between the mortal – perhaps disgustingly so – actor and the holy figure of Christ may also offend many. Nonetheless, the spirit of redemption is discernible in his words: “the police are looking for me because I cry out that the existing order will fall…”

Jesus Christus

Discernment is not easy in the humdrum of life. You need to listen carefully. But Kinski’s speech is soon marred by jeering and whistling. After a few minutes he is forced to interrupt himself. He shouts to the hecklers to “shut their gobs.” A pharisee comes up to him and declares for the benefit of those present, “This is not the Christ. Jesus, as far as I know, was tolerant. Had someone contradicted him, he would have tried to win him over with dialogue, not told him to shut his gob.” – “No!” roars Kinski in reply. “He didn’t tell him to shut his gob. He took a whip and smacked his gob! That’s what he did, you stupid pig! And that just might happen to you too!”

To put it in context, it is worth going back to the beginning of the film. People are filing into the Deutschlandhalle, a now demolished theatre in Berlin. They move in and out of shadows. Lights form halos around the heads of the ushers… the suggestion is not that you are beholding the gates of heaven complete with a welcoming party of saints, though who among the living can say for certain what the entrance to heaven looks like? But the scene does arouse the feeling that you are about to participate in something removed from the material concerns of life.

Indeed, you do not have long to wait before Kinski tells of a soldier who wanted to follow Jesus. “What must I do?” he asked. Jesus told him, “Cast off your uniform and follow me.” Another man, tells Kinski, said to Jesus he wanted to follow him wherever he went. Jesus said to him, “Then give all you have to those who have nothing, and follow me.” The Pope himself, tells Kinski, came up to Jesus and beseeched him to reveal what he had to do so that he might follow him in eternity. “Shut your gob,” replied Jesus, “and follow me.”

Jesus Christus

That is how “the fall of the existing order” ought to be understood. The word of Kinski’s Redeemer is, do not set great store by material things. As impressive, reasonable and necessary as they appear to be, they are transient. Seek, rather, and believe in the eternal. Then you will live without fear of death, which is to say, you will be living people. Of course, it is a hard act to follow. Who would be defenceless? Who would be impoverished? Who would be silent who is so righteous? But ultimately the question is, will you hear the word and try to live by it, or will you reject it and crucify the bringer? When Kinski poses the dilemma the prevailing mood is for the latter. He is jeered and heckled. Finally, the stage is invaded.

But wait a moment, you say… What is being discussed here: a film or a stage performance? I confess, I was unclear on this point. Christ the Redeemer is a filmed stage performance. Though I don’t see why we shouldn’t agree to call it simply a film. There’s a sequence of moving pictures captured by various cameras that lasts about eighty minutes. There’s a story – quite possibly an interesting one, to judge by the fact that it’s survived over two millennia – and a legendary actor in the lead role. There’s a drama arising from the efforts of a largely hostile audience to stop the lead actor from fulfilling his role. There’s film editing, light and sound production to enhance the drama. What more does one need to have a film? A hundred million dollar budget and special effects up the arse? Personally, a trillion dollar budget and whatever special effect comes with it won’t do it for me as long as the film is not good. I might not be a redeemer, but I know that the world will be a better place when the aesthetic of the blockbuster is finally inserted back into whatever arse it issued from.

The most wonderful quality of Christ the Redeemer is the realism with which it portrays Jesus’ passion to bring his word to humanity. It is achieved in large part because it happens by accident. Kinski was supposed to have come on stage and delivered a monologue. The audience was supposed to have sat and listened. Instead, as with Christ over two thousand years ago, the audience does not want to hear and the word is obscured by cries of scorn. But the bringer’s passion will not die. He wants to bring his word to humanity regardless. He is forced to leave the stage but he returns. He is forced to leave again. He returns again. When he returns for the fourth time there are only about a hundred people left in the theatre. But he will speak to them. His body is tired. His voice has weakened considerably. But he will speak. He will say what he came to say.

The film’s ending is a deeply moving parallel with Jesus Christ’s lingering death on the cross. The actor playing him has strutted and fretted not one but several hours, and yet he continues to speak.

“My God, do not forsake me. Give me the strength to die. Give my death a meaning. Make them understand at last why I am dying. Make them understand why I have been dead for two thousand years and yet continue to die…”

For humanity is still unwilling to hear Christ’s word. And so we continue to crucify him every year.

But such is Christ’s passion that ultimately he knows there is a meaning to his short life and unjust death. Such is his love for humankind that he knows one day we shall all hear and understand. And here the film ends. The actor takes his bow and the shot moves off him, upwards into light.

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