The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, is widely regarded as a leading film festival in Africa. Founded in 1979 by Teddy and Ros Sarkin, it is the oldest and largest film festival in Southern Africa, presenting over 100 screenings, most of which are premieres in this region. The festival also offers workshops, seminars and outreach activities that include screenings in township areas where cinemas do not exist. DIFF offers an opportunity for filmmakers to expand their networks, by attracting local and international stakeholders and is a gateway to global cinematic gems that will enrich South African audience experiences.

The festival has a competition, with the Best Documentary and Best Short Films automatically qualifying for the Oscars race. One of the awards presented, each year, is the Amnesty International Durban’s Human Rights Award.

The DIFF program includes a section for student films, currently enrolled at any tertiary institution, and is aimed at supporting young filmmakers in shaping their careers as they debut their first films and creating opportunities for them to engage with industry professionals.

Best Feature Film
Best South African Feature Film

Best Documentary
Best South African Documentary

Best Short Film
Best South African Short Film

Best International Student Film
Best South African Student Film

Audience Choice Award

Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award

1. Entry Form
Films and entry forms must be submitted exclusively through the FilmFreeway website and must only be submitted by an authorised representative for the film.

2. Submission Deadlines
Early Bird Deadline: 15 December 2023
Regular Deadline: 31 January 2024
Notification Date: 25 May 2024

3. Categories
3.1. Features: African fictional films 60 minutes and over. Non-African submissions will be solicited.
3.2. Documentaries: African non-fiction films 60 minutes and over. Non-African submissions will be solicited.
3.3. Short Film: fiction or documentary films that are under 60 minutes. Open to all countries.
3.4. Student Film: fiction and non-fiction films under 60 minutes. The director of the film must be enrolled in a tertiary institution during the year that the film is produced and submitted for the festival. Open to all countries.

4. Competition Films
4.1. The competition section of the festival includes a selection of Features, Documentaries, Shorts and Student Films that will be adjudicated by an independent jury.
4.2. The decisions of the Jury are final, and no correspondence is entered into after the announcement of the Awards.

5. Eligibility
5.1. Feature films, documentaries, short films and student films that have been completed any time after January 2023.
5.2. Films submitted and declined for the previous edition will not be considered for the 45th edition.
5.3. Films must not have been shown on South African television, internet streaming services or released in South African cinema before the DIFF2024 presentation.
5.4. Should your film be selected, the festival requires a DCP for the exhibition. This is not applicable to student films.
5.5. Films where the language is not English, must have English subtitles.
5.6. Works solely promotional, educational or scientific in nature are not eligible for selection for DIFF.
5.7. A film selected to participate in the festival cannot be withdrawn from the festival during the event.
5.8. Films for the festival must be submitted by a representative who has the authority to do so.

6 Refunds
6. No submission refunds will be granted, it is the submitters' responsibility to ensure the film is eligible.

Any enquiries about the Durban International Film Festival can be directed to DIFF by email at

Overall Rating
  • Malusi Bengu

    Thank you for showcasing the film and for being nominated... Vinyl And Bones.

    September 2023
  • Lam Can-zhao

    It was an honor to be part of this prestigious festival! I hope to come back in future years.

    November 2022
  • Durban was a ‘movie’… thank you to DIFF for screening our short and hosting us!

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    It was wonderful to host you in person! Thanks for coming in numbers.

  • Thank you for selecting my short, "Shared Space". I feel deeply honored and grateful!

    August 2022

    It was amazing and we explored some knowledge

    August 2022