Archive for the ‘DIFF’ Category

The Blame Frame

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Director: Laura Poitras

Running Time: 2 hours and 2 minutes

Festival: Durban International Film Festival (DIFF2023)


Even before viewers watch film maker Laura Poitras Oscar nominated documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, they should read the New Yorker journalist’s superbly researched book Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe who gives a detailed account of the complex issues surrounding the extensive opioid crisis that gripped America for the first 20 years of the 21st century.

Poitras chooses to follow the bohemian life of photographer and activist Nan Goldin who herself got addicted to OxyContin and then once recovered launched a successful smear campaign again the Sackler Family who owned the Pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma who made and distributed the highly addictive strong pain killer OxyContin, which is a derivative of heroin.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed focuses on Goldin’s smear campaign, who as an artist who had her work hung in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries from The Met to the Guggenheim and the Louvre, attacked the immensely wealthy Sackler’s families philanthropic efforts of donating huge amounts of money to galleries in New York, London and Paris with the proviso that the cultural institution name a wing of the gallery after the Sackler’s.

With a brilliant title, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, documentarian Laura Poitras makes her position clear that she is on the side of Nan Goldin and does not maintain an objective gaze but instead scandalizes the actual smear campaign which was both riveting and explosive as Nan Goldin and her gang of activists stages protests in the Guggenheim throwing thousands of prescription OxyContin bottles down the spiral ramp of the Guggenheim, the most glamourous art gallery in New York. Goldin does a similar protest at the Louvre where the European wing of the Sackler’s who were based in London had donated large amounts of money.

Laura Poitras does do a full comprehensive historical biography of Nan Goldin from her counterculture days as an emerging photographer in New York surrounded by fringe film makers and queer artists to her own addiction struggles and to the scourge of the AIDS crisis in the late 1980’s which nearly wiped out that entire counter-culture community.

Ultimately what Poitras does do is paint the immensely clever and secretive Sackler clan as aloof billionaires who had invented a drug which was abused by millions of Americans and many died, while not accepting any responsibility for how they had contributed to the Opioid epidemic from 2000 to 2020, while vastly benefiting from the immense profits made by their Pharmaceutical company.

The faces of Kathe and Richard Sackler, some of the heirs of the vast wealth of the Sackler clan, as appearing cold and unsympathetic at the end of the documentary when the family is deposed virtually in 2020 to appear before the families of the victims who died during this crisis, paints the family that privately owned Purdue Pharma as completely unsympathetic, which they were.  The Sackler’s did not acknowledge guilt or accountability but through the efforts of Nan Goldin and her gang of protesters, years of philanthropy have been stripped at some of the finest cultural institutions in the world as the Sackler name was erased from the esteemed Art World.

As a documentary film maker, Laura Poitras does a superb job of bringing the opioid crisis to light and how the once influential Sackler family lost their reputation but not their wealth. All The Beauty and the Bloodshed is a fascinating if slightly one sided documentary which is tangential in parts but illuminating in other.

While the complex ethics of pharmaceutical distribution is largely untouched in this documentary, the focus squarely remains on the Sackler’s enormous contribution to the World of Art and their untimely undoing by a spiralling opioid crisis and Federal litigation. See this documentary in conjunction with reading Patrick Radden Keefe’s brilliant non-fiction book, to gain the full complex history of the Sackler family and the opioid crisis in America. 

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is a fascinating tale of counterculture flamboyance and protest versus corporate greed and murky philanthropy to some of the most influential art galleries in the World: The Louvre, the Guggenheim, The Tate and the Met. Highly recommended viewing.

Escaping the Community

Banel & Adama

Director: Ramata-Toulaye Sy

Cast: Khady Mane, Mamadou Diallo, Binta Racine, Moussa Sow

Running time: 87 minutes

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Festival: Durban International Film Festival (DIFF)

Language: Sengalese with English Subtitles

After having its world premiere at the 76th Festival de Cannes, Sengalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy ‘s thought provoking film Banel and Adama was chosen as the closing film of the 44th Durban International Film Festival in July 2023.

Banel and Adama won the Bright Horizon award at the Melbourne International Film Festival and is an incisive look at woman Adama who is supposedly trapped in a patriarchal and remote village in Northern Senegal.

Adama’s future is mapped out for her by the village elders as she is to wed the younger brother of her late husband as per tradition.  However, Banel played by Mamadou Diallo is not happy with her projected future and struggles to adapt to an already mapped out life. As a young woman she struggles to take heed of advice by the village elders even when the village itself is ravaged by drought and lack of rain.

Banel is to inherit the title as village elder and along with all the men, he has to tend to the dwindling livestock in ever worsening conditions with inadequate agricultural means and a meagre population which is teetering on the edge of hunger.

Unlike Western cinema which always focuses on the interplay between hero and villain, director Rama-Toulaye Sy paints a vivid cinematic portrait of a community struggling to survive against nature and of a woman fighting to establish her own self-identity in an environment which is prescribed by traditional Muslim values and a superstition of all things individual.

Banel and Adama is a fascinatingly authentic African film, a lens which is rare for cinema going audiences from a country which has virtually no visibility on the world stage.

Interwoven with some beautifully stark images, Banel and Adama is a symbolic tale of how an individual woman fights against the expectations of her community and a man who has to bow down to local pressure to take up the position of village leader as inherited according to dictated custom.

Debut director Rama-Toulaye Sy imbues her first film with all the traits of traditional African cinema, minimal sets and a stark production design, while skilfully keeping her narrative community driven as her two main characters battle to accept the fates that have been chosen for them by the village elders.

Tigers Don’t Get Bail


Director:  Visakesa Chandrasekaram

Cast:  Sivakumar LingeswaranKamalasiri Mohan KumarThurkka Magendran

Running Time: 100 minutes

Languages: Tamil with English Subtitles

Festival: Durban International Film Festival (DIFF)

Sri Lankan director Visakesa Chandrasekaram film Munnel had its international premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam earlier in 2023 and revolves around a Tamil militant Rudran played by Sivakumar Lingeswaran who returns home injured and is cared for by his strong willed old fashioned mother while searching for his missing girlfriend Vaani played by Thurkka Magendran.

Munnel is set away from the bustling metropolis of Colombo and is filmed in a very rural part of Sri Lanka whereby Rudran and his mother are living in almost poverty stricken conditions as they are fiercely protective of their own lives despite dreams of smarter things. Rudran played with a sort of stubborn arrogance by Sivakumar Lingeswaran is keen on buying a Samsung phone but he cannot afford it and he tells his mother of the wonders of new technology including Facebook and Instagram. Colombo is glimpsed at in flashbacks like an elusive city which excludes the indigent.

While Rudran is hanging out with the local village guys there is a court case brewing about his involvement as a militant in the infamous group the Tamil Tigers. Rudran was arrested for committing atrocities and crimes during the nearly four decade long Sri Lankan civil war from 1983 to 2009.

Munnel or the English translation Sand is a fascinating tale of a mother and a son whose innocence or guilt is never fully established right up until the end of the film. As the director wraps Munnel in traditional Tamil rituals and also highlights the sense of community in which the mother and son dwell even if there lingers suspicion amongst the villagers that Rudran could be guilty.

To a non-Western audience, there will be many cultural references which will be missed while watching Munnel, nevertheless it is a fascinating Sri Lankan film about the horrors of civil war and the focus on a militant that comes home only to be haunted by his past deeds. Incidentally Munnel was shot in 2019 amidst rolling blackouts, fuel shortages and a cost of living crisis in Sri Lanka.

After its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Munnel was a welcome addition to the films screened at the 44th Durban International Film Festival in July 2023.

As a fascinating mostly rural set Sri Lankan film, Munnel gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is slow moving in parts but is worth seeing even if it is to catch a glimpse of an exotic country in which there exists very little external media coverage.

Worth seeing but many of the traditional religious scenes will be lost on Western audiences if they are not familiar with Tamil customs and rituals.

The Ice Cream Seller and the Writer


Director: Christian Petzold

Cast: Thomas Schubert (Austrian), Paula Beer, Eno Trebs (The White Ribbon dir Michael Hanneke), Langston Ubel, Matthias Brandt

Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Language: German with English Subtitles.

Please note that this film has not had a commercial cinema release yet.

Acclaimed German film maker Christian Petzold returns with his new film Afire focusing discreetly on the wildfires that ravage Europe in the summer, wreaking havoc on remote holiday destinations. Petzold’s film Afire which premiered at the prestigious Berlinale, the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival, in February 2023 had its exclusive South African premiere hosted by the German consulate in South Africa at the Durban International Film Festival on Sunday 23rd July 2023 at Suncoast Cinemas and I was privileged to attend.

Afire contains only four main characters: tortured self-absorbed writer Leon superbly played by Austrian actor Thomas Schubert who was in attendance at the film premiere; the beautiful yet elusive Nadja wonderfully played with flirty desire by German actress Paula Beer; muscular lifeguard or swimming assistant Devid played by the gorgeous Enno Trebs who as a child actor appeared in director Michael Haneke’s brilliant Oscar nominated film The White Ribbon (2010) and lastly Felix played by Langston Ubel.

With the main location being a beach house near the Baltic Sea, initially Leon and Felix hire the beach house to get some work done during the summer. Much to the boy’s surprise is the appearance of the gorgeous Nadja who is mysterious at first until they soon discover more about her.

Then the athletic and buff Devid appears on the scene, initially presumed to be Nadja’s boyfriend but as Leon discovers that assumption is way off the mark.

The narrative that follows is a tragic comedy about four young adults struggling with their own artistic personalities and their limitations while their surroundings are slowly getting ravaged to the ground by extremely dangerous wildfires.

Director Christian Petzold holds the action tight and keeps the plot mainly between these four characters as they laugh, drink wine, sulk and go for swims. All of them except Leon brilliantly played by Thomas Schubert as a thoroughly dislikeable, self-absorbed and generally painful writer who is struggling to complete a novel which he knows is terrible.

Events take a deadly turn when Leon’s editor Helmut turns up for dinner one summer evening. The intellectually arrogant Helmut played by Matthias Brandt takes a shine to the gorgeous Nadja who flits around all these men riding a bicycle in a red dress, which becomes a motif for flaming hot desire and impending danger.

Afire is completely un-American and decidedly European in every respect. A contemporary tale about modern relations, complete with fluctuating sexualities, an existential threat of climate change which becomes real and a darkly tragic turn of events that inspired the writer to craft a more competent narrative around his fascination with the ice cream seller and the lovers that turn to ash.

Afire is a brilliant film, expertly crafted with effortless acting by all the four main stars. It is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy premium European cinema content.

Afire gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and catch it at a cinema when it comes on general release.

The Symbol of Love


Director: Martin Bourboulon

Cast: Romain Duris, Emma Mackey, Pierre Deladonchamps, Armande Boulanger, Bruno Raffaelli

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes

This film is in French with English Subtitles

French director Martin Bourboulon’s meticulous reconstruction of the events both historical and romantic leading up to the design and construction of the infamous Paris landmark the Eiffel tower is beautifully told in a new film Eiffel which had it’s South African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival in July 2022 before going on general release in cinemas. With financial backing from Loreal Paris and BNP Paribas, Eiffel is a truly sumptuous French film.

Eiffel is like watching a Merchant Ivory film in French and stars Romain Duris (All the Money in the World) as Gustave Eiffel who inadvertently reconnects with his lover from 20 years ago, the gorgeous Adrienne Bourges played by Anglo-French actress Emma Mackey who last appeared in Death on the Nile.

The only problem is that in 1886, three years before the Paris World Fair in March 1889, when the idea for the Eiffel tower is first proposed, Adrienne is unhappily married to Antoine de Rustac played by Pierre Deladonchamps.

Based upon an original screenplay by Caroline Bongrand, the plot of Eiffel skilfully weaves between two time periods, the Paris of 1886 and Bordeaux of 1860 when Gustave Eiffel having successfully designed and been an engineer on a new bridge first meets Adrienne Bourges, a young girl from an upper middle class family. Their love in 1860 is lustful yet forbidden. At the time, they didn’t realize that fate would bring them together again.

In 1886, after some initial opposition to the building of the Eiffel Tower, Gustave and his team win the bid to build the tower for the 1889 Paris World Fair, not realizing that once it is constructed, it will become a symbol of eternity for Paris and an iconic Parisian landmark.

Nowadays everybody associates The Eiffel Tower with Paris, but it is fascinating to watch a historical film like Eiffel as it provides all the backstory about the man behind the design and the woman that inspired such a momentous effort and fuelled his determination to complete the Tower in time for the World Fair.

The Eiffel Tower officially opened in March 1889 and was naturally a huge success for Parisians. With gorgeous costume design by Thiere Delettre and accompanied by a signature original score by Oscar winning composer Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Shape of Water) Eiffel is a sumptuous period film set in the 1880’s about forbidden love and a quest to build something symbolic which became eternally associated with the city of Paris.

Eiffel is worth watching particularly for the superb onscreen chemistry between Emma Mackey and Romain Duris. With all the history, symbolism and romance, Eiffel is a fascinating historical film and gets a film rating of 8 out of 10. Beautiful and entrancing.

The Sophiatown Singer


Directors: King Shaft and Michael Motumbo

Cast: Zanile Madiwa, Sanda Shandu, Ivy Nkutha, Clyde Berning, Chris Gxalabla

Running Time: 1 hour and 37 minutes

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

1960 was the opening film of the 43rd Durban International Film Festival held in July 2022 and is directed by King Shaft and Michael Motumbo. Set in Sophiatown in 1960 around the events of the Sharpeville Massacre of the 21st March 1960, this musical drama focuses on the life of the young singer Lindi played by Zanile Madiwa as she escapes the shackles of her destiny in a grim apartheid South Africa and eventually escapes to go and live in Germany and then returns years later in a post-apartheid country to reconcile her past.

1960 takes place in two eras in the obvious 1960 and in 2019, when the remains of a white police officer are discovered in Johannesburg, Constable Kobus Bernard played by Clyde Berning.

The best part about 1960 is the music although the scenes set in Sophiatown in a local tavern do come across as a play rather than a film due to the excessive theatricality of the acting, however the singing is what shines through.

The characterization and dialogue is very mixed and apart from some cringe worthy scenes featuring two caricatured white madams, most of 1960 is interesting if slightly didactic as if trying to explain the events surrounding the Sharpeville massacre and the Sophiatown music scenes to a contemporary South African audience that is unfamiliar with the history.

Sanda Shandu takes on the exuberant role of Lindi’s shy love interest whose fateful meeting will forever be etched into the older Lindi’s memory as she recounts the era to a young policeman in 2019 Johannesburg. The older Lindi is played by Ivy Nkutha as she tells the young policeman never to forget what happened during apartheid.

Unfortunately 1960 will have very limited appeal beyond the borders of South Africa as the historical aspect of the film might not be as well-known internationally but as for the co-directors and writer, their aim with this film is to create more awareness about the complex issues during the Apartheid years including exile, betrayal, protest, racial segregation and fame in another country.

Co-writer Bruce Retief does a good job of tying up all the loose ends of the narrative and the true mystery surrounding the death of Constable Kobus Bernard is revealed as the older Lindi reconciles the secrets surrounding what made her famous as she pursued a musical career abroad.

While the music makes up for the lack of characterization and subtext, 1960 is an interesting film but not as brilliant as director Angus Gibson’s Back of the Moon which premiered at DIFF in 2019 and won the Best South African Feature Film that year.

Streaming audiences can catch 1960 which is available via virtual screening on the Durban International Film Festival official website until 30 July 2022 when this festival ends. Catch 1960 now and support South African cinema.

The Pink Whale

The Rain Falls Where it Will

Director: Majid Barzegar

Cast: Nazanin Ahmadi, Mazdak Mirebedini Alireza Sani Far, Arshia Nikbin, Hamidreza Maleki, Kaveh Hadi-Moghaddam

This film is in Farsi with English Subtitles

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

The 2020 film The Rain Falls Where it Will is Iranian director Majid Barzegar’s contemplative multi-generational character study of a family in crisis.

Majid Barzegar has not achieved the international status of his fellow Iranian director Asghar Farhadi who walked away with the Best Foreign Language film Oscar in 2016 for his superb film The Salesman, however Barzegar does explore the intricate relationships of a family as his nuanced story with the somewhat lackluster title of The Rain Falls Where it Will which follows a middle aged nurse Sara expertly played by Nazanin Ahmadi who is sent away from Tehran up north to look after a wealthy patriarch who has had a stroke.

Sara arrives at a remote and somewhat palatial mansion near the ocean and has to deal with a Grandfather whose three children, a son and two daughters are all pessimistic that their father won’t recover as he lies bedridden with a stoke.

As a nurse, Sara intuitively feels that her patient has a chance of recovery and that the family should not make the critical decision to switch off the life support machines which are keeping the patriarch alive.

The emotional crux of this nuanced Iranian film are the scenes between Sara the hired nurse and the grandson Aria who explains that he thinks his grandfather has a chance of recovery. Upon further discussion, Sara discovers that the cheeky and petulant grandson had given his grandfather weed which possibly made his grandfather see a Pink Whale on the shoreline near their family estate.

The Rain Falls Where it Will is a slight and fascinating film about a family who are contemplating the impending death of their patriarch while the nurses discovers that sometimes questions of life and death are sometimes more intuitive than medical.

This nuanced family drama is a melancholic contemplation of life, death and family from an entirely different perspective. Iranian cinema is rarely seen in the Western World so it is always a treat to watch some brilliant cinema even if it is that brief glimpse into a nation which is exiled from the media and labelled a pariah state.

Cinema transcends geographic boundaries so viewers take a chance on The Rain Falls Where it Will, which gets a film rating of 7 out of 10, which is recommended viewing.

What Gabriel Found

Sons of the Sea

Director: John Gutierrez

Cast: Roberto Kyle, Marlon Swarts, Brendon Daniels, Nicole Fortuin

This Film is available to watch on the DIFF 2021 website –

Please note this film has violence and strong language has not been rated yet by the South African Film and Publication board.

Afrikaans with English Subtitles

Winner of Best South African Feature Film at the 2021 Durban International Film Festival

American director John Guiterrez debuts his feature film Sons of the Sea at the 2021 Durban International Film Festival all set in Simonstown and the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. This tightly wrought action thriller focuses on two brothers Mikhail and Gabriel played respectively by newcomer actors Roberto Kyle and Marlon Swarts, whose fraternal bond is stretched beyond breaking point when the younger brother Gabriel finds a dead foreigner in the small boutique hotel he is working at in Simonstown.

The foreigner is a Chinese man who has been stabbed and was trafficking abalone or perlemoen which is common off the rugged Atlantic coastline of the Western Cape.

Gabriel’s more violent and headstrong brother Mikhail convinces him that it is a brilliant idea to steal the abalone so that they can resell it. Soon a corrupt government official Peterson is onto their trail. Peterson is played by another screen newcomer Brendon Daniels. Peterson has his own worries to deal with, with a drunken mother-in-law and a young son to take care of.

Gabriel mistakenly confides his secret find to his girlfriend Tanya played by Nicole Fortuin (Flatland). Gabriel’s job at the boutique hotel and his naïve dream of becoming a photographer is shattered when Peterson starts chasing him and his brother Mikhail as they head out of Kalk Bay area over the mountainous Cape of Good Hope region where tragedy strikes.

Writer and director John Gutierrez has a firm grip on the action genre although some of the scenes are messy and he does not provide sufficient back story about the characters or about the larger issue of abalone poaching which is an ongoing problem in the Western Cape.

Gutierrez fails to contextualize the action within the broader city landscape of Cape Town, which is massive and diverse. The actors do a good job in the three respective leads and Sons of the Sea is a proudly South African film.

Sons of the Sea is a tightly wrought action film which focuses on the brother’s relationship and how Gabriel’s find leads him and his sibling into deeper trouble.

Sons of the Sea gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is worth seeing, it’s light on characterization but heavy on suspense. Recommended Viewing

The Tear Drinkers


Director: Adrian Martinez

Cast: Adrian Martinez, Dascha Polanco, Raul Castillo, Socorro Santiago, Mozhan Marno, Emilio Delgado

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

English and Spanish with English subtitles

Once Upon Time in Venice and Focus actor Adrian Martinez writes, directs and acts in his directorial debut film iGilbert about a diabetic overweight man who lives with his overprotective mother in a Manhattan brownstone and secretly takes pictures of beautiful woman while also spying on his mother’s tenant the voluptuous exotic dancer Jana wonderfully played by Dascha Polanca (Joy, In the Heights).

Psychologically iGilbert is a fascinatingly complex film yet Martinez as writer, director and actor of this film, unfortunately cannot view himself from a distance, so there are unexpected directorial flourishes which detract from the overall narrative. Nevertheless, iGilbert is interesting and disturbing.

It’s a bizarre tale of morally flawed characters that are all cloying at each other’s emotional boundaries, tear drinkers, waiting for the final combustion to occur. There is Jana’s aggressive boyfriend Tony, well played by Raul Castillo who is both possessive and unhinged, an ex-Army War veteran suffering from severe PTSD.

There is Gilbert Gonzalez’s mother Carmen who constantly plies her overweight son with more food despite his obesity, feeding his own insecurities and heightening his secretive voyeuristic tendencies. Carmen is expertly played by Socorro Santiago last seen in director Steve McQueen’s heist film Widows back in 2018.

Then there is detective Rivera who comes to Gilbert’s aid when he reports a rapist to the police. Detective Rivera is played by character TV actress Mozhan Marno who soon realizes that Gilbert has lots of psychological issues which he needs to explore and play out.

There is also Gilbert’s late step father who appears to him in surreal dream sequences: Rodolfo Delgado, a bizarre Charlie Chaplinesque type figure that antagonizes Gilbert adding to his psychological angst and his neurotic voyeuristic tendencies.

Most of the action takes place in and around a Manhattan brownstone, so if audiences are looking for an angst ridden, claustrophobic psychological drama then iGilbert is both entertaining and disturbing.

As a director Adrian Martinez should have handed the project to someone with more experience although he doesn’t do a bad job but his talent is nowhere near the likes of actors turned directors like Ben Affleck, Kenneth Brannagh and Clint Eastwood. Acting, directing and writing your own story is a tough act to follow.

 iGilbert gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is an unsettling piece of urban cinema all set in New York City.

Places Are Like Lovers

Granada Nights

Director: Abid Khan

Cast: Antonio Aakeel, Oscar Casas, Quintessa Swindell, Virgile Bramly, Julius Fleischanderl, Laura Frederico, Alice Sanders

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

This film is in English with minimal subtitles.

This film has not been released commercially yet and is only available to watch in South Africa as part of the Durban International Film Festival DIFF2021 online program

Writer and director Abid Khan takes the viewer through a whimsical and exploratory film about young people travelling in Southern Spain in his delightful debut film Granada Nights which follows the adventures of Ben, a young British Pakistani man who arrives in Granada in the Costa do Sol in search of his girlfriend Helen.

When Helen has moved on and at the urging of a complete stranger Amelia played by Quintessa Swindell who encourages him to live life spontaneously and not be such a tourist but a traveller. Ben decides to remain in Granada to study Spanish at the Centre for Modern Languages. He moves into an apartment and meets Lucas played by Oscar Casas; Oscar played by Julius Fleischanderl, a wealthy Scandinavian and Silvia played by Laura Frederico.

Ben soon forgets Helen and joins his new friends in an endless series of late night parties and fiestas in Granada, a decadent mix of youthful nonchalance encouraged by the drifter barman Big Dave played by Virgile Bramly.

Abid Khan’s fun loving and incredibly light film Granada Nights is a wonderful story of a young man who grows up emotionally from being a nerdy tourist to an adventurous millennial who realizes that he has to experience life and not take it so seriously.

Inspired by Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy, Khan’s direction perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the modern traveller a group of transient young people that drink, party and socialize while he demonstrates how Ben grows from being a shy young tourist who transforms into a modern traveller who soaks up all the excitement and experiences that Granada has to offer from the late night parties to the strange Catholic parades that occur on the cobbled streets of this ancient Southern Spanish town with the Alhambra at its centre.

The well-scripted snappy dialogue also captures how millennials converse without taking on the bigger responsibilities of the 40 something generation such as job status, marriage and children. 

There is a poignant scene in Granada nights when Ben has a late night discussion with a Pakistani flower seller in the Arab quarter of the Moorish styled Granada about such contemporary issues as islamophobia and the concept of being an immigrant in Europe.

A critical moment comes when Ben finally does reunite with Helen his lacklustre British girlfriend played by Alice Sanders just as he falls in love with Spanish beauty Ella played by Tabata Cerezo.

As Amelia so aptly states at the film’s beginning, places are like lovers, so Ben decides to take a chance on a more flamboyant side of Granada complete with flamenco dancing, broken hearts and late night shots. Granada Nights will make viewers want to be 20 again and travel the world. It is a carefree film without taking its storyline too seriously.

Granada Nights gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, a lovely film that beautifully embraces all the energies of the transient youth. Highly recommended viewing.

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December 2023
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