9th Durban FilmMart: Creating Networks, Developing Content and Building the Business of Film in Africa

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One of Africa’s premier film industry events, the Durban FilmMart (DFM), a joint programme of the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office (DFO) and the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) has ramped up its offerings to delegates for its 9th edition, which takes place from 20 to 23 July.

“The 2018 edition of Durban FilmMart offers some exciting opportunities through a diverse programme of master classes, seminars and events, for African filmmakers to build business networks, explore collaborations, develop content, benchmark their creative and production work in line with international trends, and look for investment and business opportunities,” says Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office. “But what underpins the DFM, is the focus on developing the industry in Africa, whilst drawing on local African and international expertise.”

“There are a number of lead speakers presenting at this year’s DFM,” says Russel Hlongwane, curator of the DFM and DIFF industry programme. “This year’s programme promises to stretch the mindsets of industry players, providing them with innovation and new thinking, coupled with opportunities to engage with successful and respected thought-leaders.”

Some of these key speakers include, amongst others, Dayo Ogunyemi, Lagos-based creative entrepreneur, investor and founder of 234 Media, which makes principal and private investments in the media, entertainment and technology sectors in Africa; Stephen Follows, a leading trainer and thought-leader in how storytelling can be used to change hearts and minds, and data researcher in the film industry, whose work has been featured in the New York Times, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Mirror, The Evening Standard, Newsweek, The News Statesman, AV Club and Indiewire; and LA-based Peter Russell, a screenwriter and a long-time story doctor in Hollywood whose clients include Imagine, HBO, Participant, Viacom, CBS Television and many more.

After a decade of experience in music, finance, law and consulting in New York, Dayo Ogunyemi moved to Lagos to help restructure Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry. Over the past 15 years, Ogunyemi has worked in the media, entertainment and technology spaces in all three regions of sub- Saharan Africa.

Through a 234 Media investment, Ogunyemi built and operated East Africa’s then largest cinema chain and an affiliated film distribution company, through which he acquired and released independent/arthouse films including Djo Munga’s Viva Riva, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist and Kevin McDonald’s Bob Marley biopic.

Under 234 Media’s Studio Africa banner, Ogunyemi serves as producer for films by leading and emerging African directors and has participated in the Cannes Producers Network and Cinefondation Atelier programmes.

He served as a founding board member of the African Film Academy, organiser of the African Movie Academy Awards; and on the board of the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Information Society Initiative. At DFM, Ogunyemi will present a session entitled Africa through the Lens.

Stephen Follows, who will present a session entitled A Bird’s-Eye View of Global Industry Trends, has acted as an industry consultant and guest on the BBC Radio 4 series The Business of Film. He has created UK-wide campaigns for major charities including Scope and Unicef, and has taught at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), Met Film School, Filmbase, and on behalf of the BFI, the BBC and the British Council.

Follows’ scriptwriting has, won Virgin Media Shorts, the Reed Film Competition and IVCA awards; been nominated at the British Independent Film Awards, Viral Video Awards, and the LA Movie Awards; been long-listed for a BAFTA; and championed by Mike Newell, James King, Stephen Fry, The Daily Telegraph and Le Monde.

Follows has produced over 100 short films and two features. He has produced corporate video work for a wide variety of clients ranging from computer game giants (Bethesda), technology giants (Nokia Siemens Networks) and sporting giants (Jonny Wilkinson).

UCLA lecturer and screenwriter, Peter Russell is also a long-time story doctor in Hollywood whose clients include Imagine, HBO, Participant, Viacom, CBS Television and many more. Russell is in high demand for his legendary seminars and master classes on film and TV story.  In 2017 he sold two television pilots – a crime procedural and a biographical mini-series.

Russell’s charismatic speaking style won him UCLA Teacher of the Year in 2009. He ghostwrites for both new and established film and television writers and producers. Russell privately consults with producers and writers on film and TV story from treatments to pilots and full story development.  At the DFM he will present a workshop on writing for television series.

Other topics covered include Aesthetics of African Cinema, Matriarchs in Filmmaking led by South African Women in Film and Television (SWIFT), Are there any Sacred Cows in Filmmaking? a discussion led by the South African Screen Federation, Co-Production Treaties – Treat or Trifle?, Copyright vs Copyleft, The Medium is the Message: Animation, Getting to the Heart of your Documentary, BRICS SA Forum: Distribution Strategies within BRICS Countries and Women Led Film.

“Besides these sessions, filmmakers will have plenty of opportunities to network with peers at the various sessions as well as the more casual social functions where often creative ideas and collaborations have their birthplace” says Hlongwane.

Once again this year, the National Film and Video Foundation will present workshops and discussions on policies and local industry trends, and will also host a number of networking sessions.

Filmmakers from 16 pre-selected African film projects will have the opportunity to pitch their film projects to leading financiers, broadcasters as well as other potential funders and investors at the DFM’s finance forum. Eight documentaries and eight feature fiction films in development will be mentored by experts and given an opportunity to pitch to various panels. This gives them an opportunity to craft their projects even further, working towards getting their films made and distributed.

In 2017 CaribbeanTales and the DFM joined forces to produce the CaribbeanTales’ CTI Accelerator: CineFAM – Africa with the aim of supporting projects by African women. This accelerator aims specifically to build capacity and creative leadership among women of colour who are underrepresented in leadership roles. In 2018, the second edition of this hugely successful programme will focus on facilitating productions under the South Africa-Canada official co-production agreement.

Supporting the development of emerging filmmakers, the DFM through Produire au Sud, Nantes, will conduct a writers workshop with script consultants, Sari Turgeman and Jeremie Du bois, for its “Jumpstart” projects. This Jumpstart programme bridges the gap for emerging filmmakers to go from self-funding projects to investment/funded ones.

Running parallel to the DFM, and supported by experts and visiting speakers, is the Durban International Film Festival’s open industry programme, Isiphethu, aimed at introducing entry level, emerging filmmakers, micro-budget filmmakers as well as interested members of the public to the inner-workings  of the world of cinema.

Manager of the DIFF, Chipo Zhou says, “Our strategy for Isiphethu, in terms of industry growth, is to support filmmakers in developing content. But it is also about supporting the development of the quality of content, which may ordinarily be impacted on by smaller budgets… We want to be able to offer these filmmakers opportunities to incubate projects, be mentored by experts, network with seasoned and experienced peers, and be included in the overall vision of the DIFF and DFM, to grow quality African content. In short to include this sector of the industry into the greater industry fold.”

“Central to the objectives of the Durban FilmMart is just how we can encourage African filmmakers to look within to collaborate, finance and develop content,” says Toni Monty. “We are very excited to see so many DFM alumni projects that have come to fruition, doing very well on the various local and international festival and cinema circuits, and many with good distribution deals: these include films like Rafiki, Inexba: The Wound, Alison, Tessa, and Five Fingers for Marseilles to name a few. This is exactly what the strategy was when the DFO and DIFF created the DFM nine years ago, and it is heartening to see the long term value it provides for the African film industry.”

The 9th Durban FilmMart takes place in Durban, at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni from 20 to 23 July 2018, during the 39th edition of the Durban International Film Festival. 14

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