South Africa’s longest-running film festival, 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 on the African continent and a vital event on the international film calendar.

The festival proactively promotes the development of the African film industry. It provides a strategic exhibition platform for local products alongside international films within a professionally implemented and reputable cultural experience. The DIFF2023 will be presented with a selection of films to be screened live in Durban coupled with an online festival that will be geo-blocked and limited to audiences in South Africa.

The 2023 DIFF curatorial theme, Disrupted Comforts / Unsettled Nuances, is a provocation for film-makers who craft their narratives as a bold, political and celebratory response or a call to action to rethink the position and conditions of contemporary societies. The 2023 DIFF programme intends to showcase the works of filmmakers who place their imaginations, voices, creativity and lenses at the centre of creating films that inspire, confront, engage, challenge, provoke or entertain audiences.

The DIFF’s 2023 curatorial theme, Disrupted Comforts / Unsettled Nuances, aims to celebrate excellence in film-making by unearthing and showcasing films that provide a memorable and enriching cinematic experience for audiences but with being courageous delve into untold narratives or new ways of retelling often-told narratives. The DIFF 2023 programming team will look out for innovative storytelling that can bridge the gap between audiences and film creators.

The programming committee and jury for DIFF comprise high-standing industry professionals who will select cinematic gems that will push the boundaries of the festival's theme, Disrupted Comforts / Unsettled Nuances. The programming team will also look for films that reach back while looking forward. Films that focus on strengthening the tapestry of indigenous and authentic African stories with a global view of sustainability and inclusion will be given strong consideration.

Films that speak to identity, migration, climate justice, social isolation, and hybrid integration and films that explore other ways in which our humanity is expanding, and our realities are being restructured will constitute an enriching DIFF 2023 festival experience. The DIFF 2023 invites submissions of Features, Documentaries, Shorts and Student Films.

The DIFF also contributes to expanding filmmaker networks by attracting local and international stakeholders and media and by creating public awareness about South African and African cinema and about global cinematic gems that will enrich South African audience experiences.

The DIFF’s Isiphethu Industry Development Programme promotes and highlights opportunities and possibilities for local film production, and it stimulates the growth of the local film industry. The programme consists of seminars and workshops that stimulate industry development whilst a community outreach programme reaches out to bring historically marginalised audiences into enjoying a festival experience.
The Isiphethu International Student Film Festival is open to filmmakers currently enrolled at any tertiary institution whose film celebrates innovation, wild imagination, courage, conviction and bravery to tell stories in new, exciting and innovative ways. The Isiphethu International Student Film Festival wants to celebrate tomorrow’s generation of legendary filmmakers today as they shape their careers and make their first real films.

Best Feature Film R50 000.00
Best African Feature Film R25 000.00
Best South African Feature Film R25 000.00

Best Documentary R25 000.00
Best South African Documentary R15 000.00

Best Short Film R10 000.00
Best African Short Film R10 000.00
Best South African Short Film R10 000.00

Best Student Film (South Africa) R10 000.00
Best Student Film (Global) R10 000.00

Best Performer R5 000.00
Best Supporting Performer R3 000.00
Best Cameo Performer R2 000.00

Best Screenplay R5 000.00
Best Cinematography R5 000.00
Best Direction R5 000.00

Artistic Bravery R5 000.00
Audience Choice Award R5 000.00

Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award No Cash Prize

Artfluence DIFF Award for Human Rights R10 000.00
DIFF Film in Education Award R10 000.00
DIFF Award for advancing film in Education R10 000.00

Please note that the prize money is VAT inclusive and subject to South African tax regulations.

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: 31 December 2022
Regular Deadline: 31 January 2023
Extended Deadline: 28 February 2023
Notification Date: 1 May 2023

3. Non-refundable Submission Fees as indicated on the FilmFreeWay Submissions Website.

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

The management and organisational team of DIFF put a lot of time and effort into watching all the submitted films and into the administration, organisation and marketing of the Durban International Film Festival to give all submissions an equal opportunity. 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.

4. Categories of the festival and terms
4.1. Features: Reserved for fiction films with narrative, animated or experimental content which is bold, inspiring and contribute to creating an enriching viewing experience. Films must be over 40 minutes in length.

4.2. Documentaries: Non-fictional films/ and Docu-dramas which are innovative, challenging and informative, as well as uncovering some aspect of reality or human frailty or strength. Films must be over 40 minutes in length

4.3. Short Film: A fiction or documentary film with a running time of under 40 minutes. This could be a fictional film or a non-fictional documentary.

4.4. Student Film: A fiction, documentary or animated film with any running time. The director of the film must be enrolled in a high school, college, or university during the year that the film is produced and submitted for the festival.

5. Competition Films
5.1. The competition section of the festival includes a selection of Features, Documentaries, Shorts and Student Films that will be adjudicated by an independent international jury. A separate jury is appointed for each category.

5.2. The decisions of the Jury are final, and no correspondence is entered into after the announcement of the Awards.

6. Eligibility Regulations for the Festival:
6.1. Feature films, documentaries, short films and student films that have been completed any time after January 2022 are eligible for the DIFF 2023 programme.

6.2. Films submitted and declined for the previous edition will not be considered for the 44th edition unless the films have been re-edited.

6.3. For the 44th edition, the DIFF will make an exception by accepting South African films that were produced during the Covid-19 pandemic (March 2020 – July 2022) and which have not yet had a national release. South African filmmakers are eligible to submit films created after March 2020 and that have participated in smaller festivals. Films submitted and declined previously by DIFF will not be eligible.

6.4. 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 before the DIFF2023 presentation.

6.5. 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 before the 2023 Festival.

6.6. Depending on the selection, selected Films must be made available for the Festival presentation in DCP or in the format used by the festival’s online festival platform.

6.7. Films produced in foreign languages other than English must be subtitled in English to be considered for selection.

6.8. Works solely promotional, educational or scientific in nature are not eligible for selection for DIFF.

6.9. A film selected to participate in the festival cannot be withdrawn from the festival during the event.

6.10. Films for the festival must be submitted by a representative who has the authority to do so.

7. Selection and Notification
7.1. Films presented at the festival are selected by an independent Selection Committee.

7.2. All selected films will be notified by the DIFF Team no later than 1 May 2023.

8. Selected Films Required Materials

8.1. The authorised representative of the selected film must complete an official DIFF Participation Confirmation Form, which will be provided upon selection. The completed form must be returned by the film’s authorised representative to the DIFF by no later than 30 April 2023, and it must include the following:
• 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
A comprehensive list will be supplied to you upon confirmation of selection.

8.2. By submitting the DIFF PARTICIPATION CONFIRMATION FORM and the above materials, the entrant(s) grants DIFF a non-exclusive license to publicly screen the selected film in the 2023 Durban International Film Festival in theatres and/or other venues/screening platforms used by the festival and online for a limited amount of time, or views as agreed to prior. The online festival programme will be geo-blocked to South Africa.

9. Shipping and Customs
9.1. The films selected for participation in a live screening during the event must be sent to DIFF digitally and in DCP format.

9.2. The DIFF will pay the cost of DCP transfers to the cinema.

9.3. All selected films must be received by DIFF no later than the 31st of May 2023.

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

Overall Rating
  • 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
  • Smilefilms India

    Fantastic experience, one of the most organised fest !

    August 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks so much for your positive feedback!