Press Office

Back to Press Office

Durban filmmaker returns to Durban International Film Festival with Radio Rats documentary

13 Jun 2016
Durban filmmaker returns to Durban International Film Festival with Radio Rats documentary

“Jiving and Dying - The Radio Rats Story” sees Durban filmmaker Michael Cross return to the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) (16-26 June) with a documentary about a band he argues are so much more than one-hit wonders.

Almost forty years ago, in late-1970s South Africa, there was a song on the radio about a spaceman called ZX Dan.  It was by a noisy little band from Springs, near Johannesburg. That song and hundreds more songwriter Jonathan Handley has penned since then remain an important, if sometimes overlooked, part of South Africa’s musical landscape.

According to director Cross, this film, twenty-five years in the making, introduces the music of the Rats and the words of Jonathan Handley “in an attempt to afford them the place they deserve in the history of independent rock ’n’ roll in South Africa.”

The film reveals how Radio Rats were to influence one fellow resident of Springs, James Phillips (aka Bernoldus Niemand) to form a band and to write songs.   It was Phillips who went on to initiate the alternative Afrikaans music scene of the mid-80s, the Voëlvry “movement” and, indirectly perhaps, the Oppikoppi music festival where a stage still bears his name.

“Jiving and Dying” also shows Rats songwriter Jonathan Handley continues to record and archive music relentlessly. His sharply-observed characters form the basis for most of his songs and he's funny, he's witty and he's dedicated. He's disarmingly self-deprecating too. The filmmaker maintains Handley remains one of the unsung heroes of South African music.

Durban-based, Cross has attended DIFF since he was a teenager in the late-1970’s and has always been struck by the selection of music-documentaries featured over the years.  “Jiving and Dying” is his third music-documentary selected for the Durban International Film Festival.  “Bafo Bafo - What Kind?!” profiling the collaboration between guitarists Syd Kitchen and Madala Kunene, tpremiered in 2005 and “Rockstardom - The Journey of a Small-Town Songwriter" screened in 2012 following it’s premiere at the Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival.  He has produced more than 50 music videos with artists including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Busi Mhlongo.

This 37th edition of DIFF features several music-related films with “Jiving and Dying” joined by: “Songs of Lahore”, “Breaking a Monster”, “I Shot Bi Kidude” and “Shwabade”.  “Jiving and Dying” will premiere on Friday, 24 June 2016 at 8 pm at Ster-Kinekor Musgrave 5 and an additional screening will take place on Sunday, 26 June at 11:00, also at Ster-Kinekor Musgrave.

For more information about “Jiving and Dying” e-mail rogueproductions@mweb.co.za and for more information about DIFF go to www.durbanfilmfest.co.za.

Press Office x

Jul 20 2019 11:45AM

Engage @ DFM, the new Durban FilmMart curated think tank conversations and panels on the future perspectives of the African film industry announced today a series of partnerships with other stakeholders with convergent and vested interests in the continent’s screen sector. Spearheaded by industry programmers Themba Bhebhe, Tiny Mungwe, Russel Hlongwane and Mitchell Harper, the 3-day programme, from July 20th – 22nd, comprises closed-rank moderated think tank discussions in the form of round tables in the mornings followed by public-facing panels in the afternoons. The solution-driven conversations are articulated around three foci: Towards a decolonial model for filmmaking and film; How can key African platforms work together create pan-African collaborations to grow cinema?; Strategies for growing documentary filmmaking and documentary audiences in Africa. Designed as spaces for the sharing and production of knowledge, these discussions will be documented and their findings subsequently redacted into a report.

Jul 18 2019 12:50PM

Durban, South Africa: A South African feast of film kicked off today (Thursday, 18 July) with a media briefing with partners and sponsors of two of the biggest filmic events on the continent: the 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, and the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the film industry development programme of the DIFF and the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office.

Jul 17 2019 1:30PM

Supported by Telefilm Canada and the High Commission of Canada in South Africa, Canada’s film scene will present itself from a variety of perspectives at the 2019 Durban International Film Festival (18-28 July) and Durban FilmMart (19 – 22 July).