International film stars head to the KZN South Coast for the 11th Ugu International Film Festival

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With its exquisite natural scenery, year-round subtropical climate, ease of accessibility, and welcoming local communities, the KZN South Coast is establishing itself as a premier film production destination. This is further entrenched by the fact that the KZN South Coast is hosting the 11th Ugu International Film Festival from 14 to 16 September.

“The South African film industry is really taking off and we’re honoured to, once again, host the Ugu International Film Festival in the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom,” said Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise (SCTIE).

“This provides us with an opportunity to showcase exactly why the KZN South Coast is a top-class film destination, from our world-class dive sites and Blue Flag Beaches, to our epic hinterland landscape. This is the ideal setting for the domestic and international film market.”

Mangcu explained that one of the biggest attractions for international documentary filmmakers is the annual Sardine Run, the planet’s greatest biomass migration which makes for unique underwater footage: “Our dive sites at Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks are considered two of the best in the world with big animal diving all year round. These continue to attract documentary film crews looking for incredible ocean footage.”

Senzo Zindela, Founding Director of the Ugu International Film Festival, said that the festival was established as the international, information-sharing platform to equip local creatives looking to break into the international market:

“We, at Ugu International Film Festival, strive to entertain our fans with great films and workshops, sustain a friendly working environment, praise professional behaviour, and encourage responsible decision-making processes. We hope that our approaches and strategies against all odds throughout the years are inspiring upcoming youth and the community at large to encourage efficiency to all those under their care.”

The 11th Ugu Film Festival will include several workshops, exhibitions, and screenings with Dezzi’s Raceway as the primary venue, alongside Nyandezulu Community Hall, the Margate Museum, and Gcilima Community Hall. The Opening Night will be hosted at Ster-Kinekor Shelly Centre on 14 September where guests will enjoy a viewing of The Lake directed by Lee Thongkham and produced by Hollywood Thailand and Thongkham Productions. Thongkham will be at the screening where he will share his insight into producing high-quality content on a reasonable budget.

Thongkam will also give a workshop on The Art of Gigantic Monster Creation as part of the many informative workshops and discussions led by industry experts across a range of topics. This year, guests can also look forward to The Art of Action Directing by Vietnamese-American filmmaker, actor, and martial artist, Peter Pham whose work has been released on Netflix, in theatres, and various other platforms. Benedicta Johnson, a businesswoman with long experience in finance, media, tourism, and animation will talk on Film Business and Funding Opportunities; Eliya Ndou from The Department of Trade Industry & Competition (DTIC) will unpack the Emerging Black Filmmakers Incentive with Xolani Dlamini discussing Special Programs & Local Content Production.

Aysha Abbas of 7toonz will share insight into Animating for International Audiences before Zimbabwe-born South African film and television actor, Luthuli Dlamini, talks on Acting for Big Screen. A definite highlight will be the Acting Masterclass by legendary South African actor, author, director, and playwright John Kani. He is known for portraying T’Chaka in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther; Rafiki in the 2019 remake of The Lion King; and Colonel Ulenga in the Netflix film Murder Mystery. Those trying to break into the film industry will benefit from Casting Opportunities by Sandile Sangweni, while African collaboration will be at the heart of the Partnering with Nigeria discussion by Peter Okafor of Madiba Media Productions.

This year’s Ugu International Film Festival’s film screenings will include BoxCar directed by Liam Whitcher and the hilarious crossover comedy Fish’s Tale by Bruce Gounder. There will also be online screenings of Arise Firebird directed by Jimi Okubanjo and Life Between Mthizozo and Marazo directed by Thango Thembakalilahlwa. Ugu International Film Festival has partnered with an international platform for this year’s showing to ensure fans across the globe can access the full programme from the comfort of their homes. The screenings can be accessed by clicking on this link: The festival will conclude with a glitzy Ugu International Film Festival Awards ceremony taking place at Dezzi Raceway on 16 September.

Ticket Prices

Opening night: R350

Festival: R250 per adult and R100 for U16

Festival and business breakfast: R1 250

Open night and awards VIP pass: R1 800

Tickets are available via the link

Uncover all the adventure on the KZN South Coast by downloading the ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app, visiting the website, checking out the Events Calendar, the KZN South Coast Meeting Planner Guide and more!

Don’t miss out on Sho’t Left Travel Week annual tourism sale South Africans get up to 50% off of travel experiences, accommodation, and historical and cultural tours when they book from 4 to 10 September 2023. To find out more, visit