This week Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, comes face-to-face with the co-directors of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival, Firdoze Bulbulia and Faith Isiakpere, to preview its programme that kicks off on July 28…

The annual Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival (NMCFF) will set three metropolitan cities ablaze next week with its illustrious line up from 28 July to 5 August 2023 consisting of a range of screenings, events and masterclasses hosted in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The three cities are the economic engines of South Africa: Johannesburg is the economic capital of Gauteng which contributes 35% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); Durban of KwaZulu-Natal which adds 16% to the country’s GDP; and Cape Town of the Western Cape which is the third biggest contributor at 14%. These economic giants afford their provinces’ geographic gross domestic products (GGDPs) an opportunity to exceed the GDPs of many African countries – with Gauteng being the seventh biggest economy on the continent, bigger than the GDP of 48 African countries. The film industry is one of the contributing sectors to the cities’ economic fortunes – Johannesburg is the Mecca of South Africa’s media industry; Cape Town boasts the Cape Film Studios; and Durban is in the process of building the Durban Film Studio which is a private sector-led project with an estimated investment value of more than R7.5 billion.

“This year’s programme, which is artistically stimulating and thought-provoking as always,” says Firdoze Bulbulia, the NMCFF’s co-director and co-founder, “The programme of films and discussions takes on bold narratives from across the world. The father of our nation, uTata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, passionately supported children and youth nurturing them as the leaders of tomorrow. The festival will continue celebrating and commemorating Mandela’s legacy using film as a tool to inform and inspire the next generation.”

What’s the most exciting news about this year’s programme? “We will be screening ‘Farha’ which was celebrated with numerous awards and accolades, winning hearts at prestigious film festivals across the globe. The film’s recognition not only elevated the director’s reputation as a visionary director but also brought recognition to the incredible performances of the cast and the brilliance of the technical team,” says Firdoze with unlimited doses of excitement and s tinge of pride.

Faith Isiakpere, the co-director and co-founder of the festival, added: “Farha’s tale continues to inspire, reminding us all of the potential for growth and healing within ourselves and the communities we inhabit. The movie stands as a testament to the power of storytelling and its ability to unite humanity through shared emotions, aspirations, and dreams.”

“We feel that showing this film and having the film team present is a great opportunity for young people in South Africa to learn about the system of apartheid in Palestine, the history of the Nakba and challenges around censorship. The movie team will be available for Q&A, masterclasses and workshops with professionals and young people.”

Conscientious corporates are needed to come onboard as sponsors. Firdoze says: “We are talking to our partners and potential sponsors to screen the ground-breaking film, ‘Farha’ to our audiences in South Africa.” The sponsorship they are soliciting will cover the travel and accommodation costs for bringing the movie’s director, Darin J. Sallam, and producers Ayah Jardaneh and Deema Azar.

The panelists will include:

  • Darin J. Sallam (Writer & Director) is of Palestinian roots and holds an MFA from the Red Sea Institute for​ ​Cinematic Arts (RSICA), affiliated with the University of Southern California. A Berlinale Talent 2021, a Robert Bosch 2015 Film Prize recipient and recently inducted​ ​into the prestigious Asia Pacific Screen Academy, Sallam was selected to the 2017 La​ ​Cité Internationale des Arts residency in Paris and to the 2018 Global Media Makers fellowship​ ​by Film​ ​Independent in Los Angeles. She has worked to produce 5 award-winnings short film titles and critically acclaimed debut feature film, “Farha” (2021).
  • Deema Azar (Producer & Script Consultant) is a Jordanian film producer and script consultant. She is also co-founder and managing partner at TaleBox, a Amman-based production company which fosters new talents in Jordan and the Arab World. Azar produced Darin J. Sallam’s award-winning debut feature film FARHA (2021).
  • Ayah Jardaneh (Producer – Consultant) is a Jordanian-Palestinian producer. She holds a B.A. in Interactive Multimedia and Design from Carleton University and Algonquin College, Canada. She also obtained certificates in producing from the New York Film Academy, PGA certificate, and 3D intensive from VanArts. Jardaneh started her career in film by joining the Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC). She then launched her career as a freelancer in the production department by working on numerous productions. Jardaneh produced ‘Farha’.

As a build up to the screening and master classes anchored on the movie, the festival programme kicks off with a breakfast session on 28 July with a select group for the “NMCFF2023 Lifetime Achievement Awards”. “The awards will honour Ms Jacqui Hlongwane, the Programme Manager at the South African Broadcasting Corporation for her tireless efforts in ensuring quality content for South African children,” says Faith. “We will also honour the Japan Prize – which is an organisation that has championed children’s productions. This is also in line with the universality of the Nelson Mandela iconography.”

According to the programme, from 29 to 31 July, screenings and workshops will be hosted in Gauteng; from 1 to 2 August: Screenings and workshops in KZN; and from 2 to 4 August; they’ll be in the Western Cape.

About the film:

Farha is a coming-of-age drama set in 1948 during the Nakba in Palestine when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were exiled from their homes under Zionist apartheid. The film is based on a true story and follows a 14-year-old girl with dreams of her education, but her circumstances mean she has to fight for her survival. The film is the bold directorial debut from Darin J. Sallam and marks the first-time this important story is brought to the screen.

Farha is a 14-year-old girl who lives in a small village in Palestine 1948. Girls her age are traditionally married off or spoken for yet Farha wants to continue her education despite traditions and the restriction of schooling in her village to boys. Inseparable from her best friend Farida, who lives in the city but who spends weekends in the village, Farha dreams of joining her at school in the city.

Life in the village is threatened and aggressively changed by the looming danger. Just when Farha’s father is finally convinced and Farha’s dream is at last coming true, the danger comes closer to their village. As violence escalates, Farha is brutally separated from Farida.

Terrorised for his daughter’s safety and fearing for her life, Farha’s father locks her up in a concealed, small food storage space by the house, promising to return. But he never does.

Over the course of the next few days, Farha undergoes a life-changing experience while buried in the tight dark space, her only connection to the outside world is a small hole in the wall and a few cracks in the wooden door. Farha witnesses a lot of events, outside and inside the room, setting off her journey of transformation and forcing her to grow up and leave her childhood behind.


About the NMCFF?

NMCFF was founded in 2018 and has become an important space for introducing young audiences to films and industry practitioners from across the world. The festival reaches around 5000 children annually and shows films both in venues in Johannesburg and Durban and online. It shows films from partners across the world and have included children’s content from countries such as Egypt, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia. 

The festival includes masterclasses and pitching sessions with a focus on animation, gaming, production, and filmmaking. The co-directors work in partnership with a number of organisations and festivals both in South Africa and across the world to ensure that they undertake a collaborative approach when positioning and promoting children’s content. 

Some of their partners include the Durban International Film Festival (South Africa); CIFEJ, an NGO active as the only global network of media professionals working for children and young people; The Danish Film Institute; The Prix Jeunesse International, in Germany; ComKids in Brazil; and m:brane in Sweden. 

This year, they have succeeded in securing the participation of the Jordanian and Palestinian embassies and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Arts School with specific participation from the film and arts departments. They have also invited the University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of Pretoria, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape and the University of Stellenbosch.


For further information and for partnership opportunities, please contact the organisers on: 

Tel: +27 (11) 346 5000/ Tel: +27 (11) 440 0896

Mobile+27 83 325 1857