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 three principal strands: the 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.

2020 turned the world topsy-turvy and the film industry was not spared. Although some of us adapted, for some it was a completely devastating experience. As the year is coming to an end and we are evaluating our gains and our losses looking to envision what the next few years will look like, we choose to be optimistic and hopeful.

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 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 42nd Durban International Film festival will take place in Durban, South Africa from 22 July-1 August 2021. 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 program 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 41st Durban International Festival in 2020 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 the Festival 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 2020.

2 Submission Deadlines
Early Bird Deadline: 31 January 2021
Regular Deadline: 28 February 2021
Late Deadline: 31 March 2021
Extended Deadline: 15 April 2021
Notification Date: 1 May 2021

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 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 40minutes and above.
• Short Film: A fiction or documentary film with a running time of under 40 minutes.

Competition Films
• This is the competition section of the festival, which covers a selection for Feature Fiction, Feature Documentaries, Shorts and South African to be adjudicated by an independent international jury.
• If a film has screened in South Africa at another festival before DIFF then it will not qualify for the competition.

All submissions should be made by the official representative who will serve as the mediator for screening fees as well as the transportation of DCPS.

4 Eligibility Regulations
• The festival allows submission of feature films, documentaries, short films that have been completed since January 2020
• Films that were submitted and declined for the previous edition will not be considered for the 42nd edition unless they are changed or improved or been re-edited.
• Feature-length productions (fiction or non-fiction) over 40 minutes must not have been shown on African television, internet streaming services or a commercial screening prior to its DIFF presentation.
• 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.
• 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 the DIFF.
• A Film that is selected to participate in the festival cannot be withdrawn from the festival during the event.

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 the Selection Committee.
• All selected films will be notified by the Festival Manager no later than 1 May 2021.
•. No refunds for submissions will be granted, it is the submitters' responsibility to ensure the film is eligible.

7. Selected Films Required Materials
• A Director of the selected film must complete an official DIFF Participation Confirmation Form available on selection, to be submitted no later than 30 April 2021.
• A synopsis in English of minimum 300 words
• The director’s high-resolution photo, biography and filmography
• Trailers, posters, postcards 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 2021 Durban International Film Festival in theatres and/or other venues/screening platforms used by the festival.

8. Shipping and Customs
• All films that are selected for participation in 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 2021.
• 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 is returning the DCP to the participant.

9. Enquiries
Any enquiries can be directed to DIFF per email on

We put a lot of time and effort in the administration and into watching all the submitted films. We regard watching of the films as highly important to give everyone equal opportunities. This is a costly process which 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.