SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) announced the film projects that it had supported in the third and fourth quarters of the 2012/13 financial year at a function held on 31 January at the Crowne Plaza Rosebank Hotel.
Projects are: SA Music Journey (a documentary by drummer, composer and arranger Vusi Khumalo); Berea (a short film produced by Puo Pha Productions); Holy Man (a feature length documentary by Blue Marble Production about Muslim leader Sheik Yusuf of Massakaar); Garden of Hope (a five-minute documentary about urban sustainability); My Zulu Wedding (a feature film produced by Luju Pictures and Productions about a young maiden in search of her true self); Cooking with Azania (a food lifestyle programme licensed by SABC3 and produced by Azania Mosaka); Gang Star (a story about three men and one woman on a quest for redemption); and Security (a 15-minute short film produced by Mannequi, selected as part of the prestigious Focus Features Africa First Competition).
In addition the GFC announced its support of three audience development projects. These include Kasi Movie Nights (KMN), a distribution platform that distributes South African content across the country in the form of monthly screenings from a truck.
The other two projects are Bioscope at 20h00, which aims to encourage appreciation of local content through monthly screenings, and the popular long-running First Wednesday Film Club (FWFC), a casual networking forum and platform for exposure of African films, held on every first Wednesday of the month at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg.
At the launch Lebogang Maile, MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation for Gauteng, assured guests that the Provincial Government takes the film industry very seriously.
“We aim to focus on the economic impact and spinoffs from the film industry in Gauteng and to coordinate them properly. The current plan under discussion is to convert the GFC into an exclusive body that will incorporate all the creative industries in the Province.
“Funding is always a challenge so we need to look at creative ways of financing these industries; therefore it’s necessary that they be coordinated properly. We believe all creative industries should be housed under one agency and that this agency be controlled autonomously so that it isn’t subjected to bureaucracy,” he said.
The MEC stressed that in terms of funding the GFC had to vie for government’s attention amid lots of competition from basic needs such as education and housing.
Maile continued: “The government budget for the creative industries is small. If you want to make Gauteng a prime filmmaking destination you need money for marketing. This must all be planned so there needs to be a champion – the new agency. When the private sector is unable to adequately support the film sector then government must step in.
“We have a bit of money from treasury in place but we’ve requested more so that there can be resources for filmmakers and others in the industry. At the same time we have to be aware of the constraints that government is facing. Rest assured that we will try to compete for the limited funds they have available. It won’t be easy which is why we need to take a long term view for the creative industries. I understand this is very frustrating for filmmakers because as government we are supposed to create a conducive environment for them.”
GFC CEO Mzwandile Masina stressed that it was necessary for the GFC to forge partnerships among state institutions.
“We are in discussions with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) in this regard and are already in partnership with the Film and Publication Board (FPB). As a result, GFC-supported films now no longer need to pay FPB classification fees,” commented Masina.
He revealed that there will be a Creative Industries Indaba on 28 of February in Gauteng.
“At this one-day event we will present our strategy for Mzansi’s Golden Economy, which includes our plan for the creative industries,” added Masina.
Speaking from the floor comedian and filmmaker David Kau (Taxi Ride) made the point that most Afrikaans-language films are financed by rich businessmen.
“There are lots of rich black people in Gauteng so maybe the GFC should approach them about financing local films. It’s a bit difficult to convince them to invest in feature films as they don’t watch films or TV. I would like to suggest that the GFC put together a delegation to talk to black billionaires in this regard,” said Kau, who noted that distributing films is even more difficult than raising finance for them.
On the subject of distribution, Dr Melanie Chait of the Big Fish Digital School of Filmmaking suggested that money should be set aside to market South African films to local audiences.
Producer Firdoze Bulbulia proposed that cinema chains Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor should run a ‘South Africa Day’ from time to time, which would be devoted to local films.
“We’re not getting support in this country for our own stories,” stated Bulbulia.