South Africa’s longest-running film festival, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), contributes to expanding filmmaker networks, attracts local and international media, creates public awareness of South African and African cinema, and promotes and celebrates African cinema that highlights the possibilities of local film production and stimulates the growth of the film industry. DIFF proactively promotes the development of the African film industry and provides a strategic exhibition platform for local products alongside international films within a professionally implemented and reputable cultural experience.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, DIFF is widely regarded as one of the leading film festivals on the African continent and a vital event on the international film calendar.

DIFF has two principal strands: Isiphethu, consisting of a seminar and workshop component to stimulate industry development and a community outreach programme to service marginalised audiences and the celebration of cinema through the exhibition of films. Isiphethu is due to release a separate call out for the student film festival.

DIFF2022 will be presented as a virtual festival, with a small selection of films to be screened live subject to prevailing Covid-19 related restrictions.

The official opening for submissions calls on global filmmakers to speak to the myriad of ways we have all restructured our reality. This year’s curatorial theme is ‘Adaptation’; DIFF is challenging filmmakers during these times of unprecedented transformation to rise and introduce audiences to fresh perspectives of diversity and inclusion. The festival is looking for films that reach back while looking forward, focusing on strengthening the tapestry of indigenous and authentic African stories with a global view to sustainability and inclusion. These could be films that speak to migration, climate adjustment, social isolation, hybrid integration and films that explore other ways in which humanity is expanding.

The theme for this year’s inaugural Isiphethu International Student Film Festival (IISFF) running concurrently with DIFF is migration. Migration serves to prove that instincts like hibernation, re-assessment and behavioural adaptations exist to preserve life.

The inaugural Isiphethu International Student Film Festival intends to highlight the effects and cause of migration to human life, and all other species by celebrating bravery and stimulating debate through images and sound. The positive outcomes of our evolution breed new ways to conduct business and also challenges people to learn and adopt new ways of living.

Best Feature Film R 50 000,00
Best South African Feature Film R 25 000,00
Best Documentary R 25 000,00
Audience Choice Award R 25 000,00
Best South African Short Film R 20 000,00
Best African Short R 20 000,00
Best Short Film R 20 000,00

Please note prize money is VAT inclusive.

The Isiphethu Student Film Festival will have a separate competition, the award categories for this will be announced soon.

The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) housed in The College of Humanities, School of Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

1 Introduction
The 43rd Durban International Film Festival will take place in Durban, South Africa from 21 July to 30th July 2022. The mission of DIFF is to develop and deliver a sustainable world-class film festival, which engages stakeholders and achieves critical acclaim by presenting a unique programme that inspires, challenges and entertains an increasingly broad and diverse audience. The festival aims to offer a platform for content that is unavailable through mainstream cinema to both local and international audiences.

As a response to the Covid-19 lockdown, the 42nd Durban International Festival in 2021 presented its programme online. This resulted in expanding the potential of the festival and growing newer audiences for the festival beyond Durban. Next year’s edition of DIFF will be presented both online and as a live event; the latter being subject to Covid-19 protocols. This hybrid festival will provide a meeting ground for networking and engaging in a vibrant live festival environment while the online event will continue to capitalise on the newly established gains from 2021.

The inaugural Isiphethu International Student Film Festival (IISFF) will be launched during the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). The Festival is inviting student filmmakers to submit their projects for the 1st edition taking place concurrently with DIFF.

2 Submission Deadlines
Early Bird Deadline: 30 December 2021
Regular Deadline: 31 January 2022
Extended Deadline: 28 February 2022
Notification Date: 15 April 2022

3. Categories of the festival and terms
• Features: Reserved for fiction films over 40 minutes in length that are bold, inspiring and that have added value in cinema.
• Documentaries: Non-fictional films/ and Docu-dramas over 40 minutes in length which are innovative, challenging and informative intended to document or uncover some aspect of reality.
• Feature-Length Film: a narrative, animated or experimental film with a running time of 40 minutes and above.
• Short Film: A fiction or documentary film with a running time of under 40 minutes.
• Student Film: A fiction or documentary film with any running time. The director must be enrolled in a high school, college, or university during the year that the film is produced.

Competition Films
• This is the competition section of the festival, which covers a selection for Feature Fiction, Feature Documentaries, Shorts and South African Films to be adjudicated by an independent international jury. The Isiphethu Student Film Festival that runs concurrently with DIFF will present its own competition section.

4 Eligibility Regulations
• The festival allows submission of feature films, documentaries, short films and student films that have been completed since January 2021.
• Films that were submitted and declined for the previous edition will not be considered for the 43rd edition unless they have been re-edited.
• For the 43rd edition, the festival makes an exception by accepting films that have not had a national release due to the pandemic. South African filmmakers are eligible to submit films created after March 2020 and that have participated in smaller festivals. Films that have been submitted and declined for the 42nd edition will also be eligible.
• Feature-length productions (fiction or non-fiction) over 40 minutes must not have been shown on South African television, internet streaming services or a South African commercial screening prior to DIFF2022 presentation.
• For student films and short films preference will be given but is not limited to submissions that have not been distributed theatrically or screened at other festivals in South Africa prior to the 2022 Festival.
• Selected Films must be made available for the Festival presentation in DCP or in the format that is being used by the festival in that particular year, which could be digital.
• Films produced in foreign languages other than English must be subtitled in English in order to be considered for selection.
• Works that are solely promotional, educational or scientific in nature are not eligible for selection for DIFF.
• A Film that is selected to participate in the festival cannot be withdrawn from the festival during the event.
• All films are to be submitted by a selected representative that is authorised to do so.

5 Entry Form
• Entry form can be found and submitted exclusively through the FilmFreeway website.

6. Selection and Notification
• Films presented at the festival are selected by an independent Selection Committee.
• All selected films will be notified by the Festival Manager no later than 15 April 2022.
• No refunds for submissions will be granted, it is the submitters' responsibility to ensure the film is eligible.

7. Selected Films Required Materials
• A representative of the selected film must complete an official DIFF Participation Confirmation Form available on selection, to be submitted no later than 30 April 2022.
• A synopsis in English minimum of 300 words.
• The director’s high-resolution photo, biography and filmography.
• Trailers, posters, and EPKs for promotion of the film
• By submitting the DIFF PARTICIPATION CONFIRMATION FORM and the above materials, the entrant(s) grants to DIFF a non-exclusive license to publicly screen the selected film in the 2022 Durban International Film Festival in theatres and/or other venues/screening platforms used by the festival, online for a limited amount of time, or views as agreed to prior.

8. Shipping and Customs
• The films that are selected for participation in a live screening during the event must be clearly labelled with a courier tracking number.
• The participating film will pay the shipping cost to Durban and the Festival Office will pay the cost of returning the film DCP to the participant.
• No prints for screening must arrive at the Centre for Creative Arts Office later than the 31st of May 2022.
• The Durban International Film Festival is not responsible for any damage incurred during submission of the DCP by the participant to Durban, however, it is responsible for the damage incurred when returning the DCP to the participant.

9. Enquiries
Any enquiries can be directed to DIFF by email at

We put a lot of time and effort into the administration and into watching all the submitted films. We regard watching films as highly important to give everyone equal opportunities. This is a costly process that does place a financial burden on the festival during these trying times. With this in mind, we have kept the costs minimal, to ensure your continued support and enable the best processes for continued quality selections. We are therefore not able to offer any waivers.

Overall Rating
  • Pacina Pictures

    The Festival was absolutely amazing and participating and even winning an award was amazing.

    January 2022
  • Really great opportunity, highly recommend

    August 2021
  • Ekaterina Kachanova

    It was fantastic to take part in the festival with such a strong competitive program. For me, as an artist, it was very important that there was a platform where I could present my film devoted to personal and important issues and see so many works of colleagues who touched my heart. You have done a great job creating such a professional platform! Thank you for your respectful and attentive attitude during the festival - informing about the film screenings and prompt answers to our questions. Thank you for discovering and showing such amazing films to the world. I wish you creative and successful work in preparation for the next festivals! :)
    Best regards,
    Leila Salakhatdinova

    August 2021
  • Olivier Assoua

    We were thrilled to have our film as the official opening film. Great festival!!! Absolute fantastic experience!

    August 2021
  • alis nature

    Thanks for giving us a chance to show our movie. Great Festival.
    Very professional.

    August 2021