South African film festivals are under threat and festival organisers face severe budget shortfalls as traditional funders reduce or cut their financial support, due to the current economic downturn.
Other than the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), first launched in 1970 and which is assured of ongoing support from its main sponsors, most of the country’s festivals confront a challenging future.
Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival was held for the first time in 1999 and its co-founder, Steven Markovitz, says that the festival experienced a major setback last year when its biggest funder, public broadcaster SABC, withdrew its support due to its financial crisis.
Strategic changes in funding policies and a re-focus on the visual sector by international funders have also contributed to budgetary concerns, adds Mandisa Zitha, Encounters festival director.
“The NFVF has been a great supporter of the festival for the past six years. They have been the most stable funder, explains Markovitz. ÒWe also receive some support from the Cape Film Commission, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Government. International cultural agencies such as the British Council, the Swiss Arts Council’s Pro Helvetia and the French Embassy also support us within their limited budgets.”
Read more in the October 2010 issue of Screen Africa