Mohammad Rasoulof’s Iranian drama The White Meadows was named best feature at the 31st Durban International Film Festival, which ran July 22-Aug 1.

The story of a man’s journey to collect the tears of inhabitants across various islands, the film was praised by the festival’s jury, which was comprised of producers Aihara Hiromi (Japan) and Christoph Thoke (Germany) and South African writer/producer Bhekizizwe Peterson, for its “timeless and poetic narrative.”

The best South African feature film was awarded to Oliver Schmitz coming of age drama Life, Above All, which is based on Allan Stratton’s bestselling 2004 novel Chanda’s Secrets. The film’s 13-year-old lead, Khomotso Manyaka, picked up the best actress award.

Sebastian Hiort af Ornäs was named best actor for his performance in Swedish director Babk Najafi’s debut feature Sebbe, as a 15-year-old who escapes the realities of his life by spending time in a scrap yard.

Anusha Rizvi’s Sundance nominated Peepli Live, about two Indian farmers who are about to lose their land, was named best first feature film, whilst the best director prize went to Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone. Granik already picked up the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for the US thriller about ateenager’s search through the mountains of southern Missouri for her missing father.

Lucy Walker’s Waste Land was a triple winner at the festival, picking up the best documentary award as well as the Audience Choice best film award and the Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award. The film tells the story of artist Vik Muniz’s journey to the world’s largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro.

The Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre For Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with support by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. 

The festival closed yesterday with Josh Appignanesi’s comedy, The Infidel, about a British Muslim man who discovers that he was born Jewish.