Masterclass at Tri Continental Film Festival

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The Tri Continental Film Festival is hosting a series Master Classes daily from 2pm – 5pm on18 – 22 August at the Goethe Institute, 119 Jan Smuts Ave, Entrance on New Port Road, Parkwood, Johannesburg.

Finding Your Story and the Money to turn it into a Film
Presenter: Rehad Desai
Date: Monday 18 August

Rehad Desai is well known local filmmaker who has made many documentary’s over the last 10 years. He runs Uhuru Productions and is the director of Tri Continental Film Festival.

Presentation Topic
A synopsis needs to answer, very directly, that well known question, “what is your story?’’ While this may sound quite simple, finding an articulate, engaging and unique description of your story is an art in itself. Once you have mastered the writing of a persuasive proposal, where you seek this support will be dependent on what type of documentary you are making and the issues it addresses. This and more will be explored in this master class.

Documentary Making under Pressure
Presenter: Michael Davies
Date: Tuesday 19 August

Armed with a global perspective and a burning desire to tell the difficult stories unfolding on the world stage daily, Michael Davie is one of the freshest voices in documentary filmmaking today. His ease in front of and behind the camera sets him apart from the pack. For his work as lead correspondent on National Geographic’s Ultimate Explorer episode “Liberia: American Dream?” Davie won the prestigious Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award in 2005, TV’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Jurors awarding the prize commented, “National Geographic’s team showed both courage and insight.’’

His recently completed six-year feature film project The Choir is the opening night film at Tri Continental Film Festival this year.

Presentation Topics
Davie will screen “The Choir’’ and interrogate his processes. In this candid presentation, Davie will share his experiences as a documentary filmmaker working in sometimes difficult and dangerous situations, covering human crises around the world.

The Role of Script in Documentary Making
Presenter: Anita Khanna
Date: Wednesday 20 August

Anita has scripted a number of documentaries for Uhuru Productions including award winning film BORN INTO STRUGGLE and LOOTING THE NATION, which she co-directed. She has developed three mini-series for South African TV. Her feature length script, Impi Yamakhanda, a factual drama about the 1906 Zulu rebellion, is due for broadcast in 2008 (SABC).

A well known writer for screen, Anita will share her valuable expertise in documentary scripting; a complex and often neglected aspect of the documentary genre.

Presentation Topic
“The script is often, the most underrated aspect of the documentary process. A school of thought suggests that the documentary-making process should be fluid and organic, whereby the filmmaker experiences the film as he makes it. However, in most films, the filmmaker will find himself asking the question, “What should I shoot?’ Here, it is imperative to start out with a well-written script, whether or not things change during the shooting process. Often preparing a script beforehand can make the difference between a bad film and a good film. Or in the best circumstances a good film and a great film.’

This master class will cover both stages of documentary scriptwriting:

(i) The Pre-shoot or Shooting Script
(ii) The Post-shoot Script

Structure and Process – Directing and Editing long form Documentaries
Presenter: David E. Simpson
Date: Thursday 21s August

David E. Simpson is a producer/ director/editor who has crafted award-winning films and television for twenty-five years. He plies his trade in the belief that a well-told story can move viewers’ hearts and minds regarding crucial, human issues. For the past nine years, he has worked in close association with Kartemquin Films, one of the leading documentary production companies in the United States.

His films have explored everything from the cultural life of the mentally disabled to multiculturalism in urban America. One of his recent films, Milking the Rhino, deals with the participation in conservationism and tourist enterprises by rural African communities and will debut at the Tri Continental Film Festival.

Presentation Topic:
David will screen his first long form documentary, “When Billy Broke his Head’ and discuss its structure and his processes with specific regard to directing and editing feature length documentaries.

Creative Producing- The Producers Role in the Creative Process, with specific focus on the Director/Producer relationship
Neil Brandt
Date: Friday 22 August
Time- 2pm- 5pm
Venue: Goethe Institute

Neil Brandt, a University of Cape Town graduate in economics and law, is one of South Africa’s leading young creative producers. His company Luna Films focuses on unique original content for the local and international markets. Over and above numerous television and feature projects, Neil has taken to market a number of well travelled documentary films, including Angola Saudades, The Mother’s House, Solly’s Story, History of South African Politics , Tsietsi My Hero, Courting Justice and Affectionately Known as Alex, which have won dozens of awards locally and internationally, including amongst them, Best Documentary Award at the SAFTA’s, Durban International Film Festival, Three Continents Human Rights Festival, Cape Town World Cinema Festival, Munich International Documentary Festival, Docusur Spain and more. He was the associate producer on the Emmy Award winning documentary, A Lion’s Trail, and competed in the Silver Wolf category at IDFA 2006. His films have sold to broadcasters worldwide, including NHK Japan, Arte, Sundance Channel, Documentary Channel and Al Jazeera English. He is a founding member of Filmmakers against Racism (FAR). His most recent film with director Francois Verster, Sea Point Days, shall be holding its world Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

Presentation Topic
Whilst a director’s place is at the helm of the creative content of a film, the producer often plays a significant role in tailoring and shaping this content in line with his own expertise on markets, funders, distribution platforms and other fundamentals of the medium. Producer Neil Brandt will share his experience on how best to negotiate this necessary yet often sensitive terrain.

As there are limited seats available per session, please contact Arya (011 403 8499 / arya@uhuruproductions.co.za) by the 13th of August 2008 to confirm your registration. Master classes are free of charge, but booking is essential.

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