Organised by the Association for Transformation in Film and Television (ATFT), a
South African delegation of filmmakers had a presence at Berlin’s European Film
Market (EFM) for the first time. The EFM ran concurrent with the Berlin Film
Festival from 6 to 14 February.
Sifiso Khanyile, spokesperson and co-founder of the ATFT, co-ordinated the EFM
delegation with South African producer Pascal Schmitz, one of the directors of
the organisation, which was established in April 2013. It empowers, develops
and inspires black females, physically impaired, black individuals and black-
owned companies as part of the growth of the South African film, television,
animation and transmedia industries.
Says Khanyile: “This came out of the necessity to balance the scales in the South
African film industry, both in productivity and ownership of intellectual property
Funded through the Department of Trade and Industry’ (the dti) Sector Specific
Assistance Scheme (SSAS) group scheme, 10 filmmakers attended EFM, of whom
eight were emerging black filmmakers.
“Two of the delegates were mentors or as we call them “transformation
champions’ who assisted the delegation and emerging filmmakers,’ comments
Khanyile. “The delegates in the group scheme responded to a callout and were
chosen on a “first come first served’ basis.’
According to Khanyile, the main aims of the trip, such as exposing emerging
filmmakers to the market and enabling them to connect with distributors, sales
agents, aggregators and for potential co-producers to form international
networks, were achieved.
He adds: “The delegates sparked relationships that lead to deals, distribution of
their content and future investments. The panel discussions on distribution,
festival strategies, storytelling and many more were of great value, as some of
the best role players in the international film industry shared their secrets at
“We are pleased with the level of preparedness the delegates showed at the
market, most of them had meetings set up in advance,’ continues Khanyile. “The
ATFT also organised “speed-dating’ sessions with distributors and there was a
high level of interest resulting in the one-on-one sessions with the distributors.’
The South African Embassy and the dti hosted a networking cocktail reception for
South African filmmakers and their German counterparts to aid in increasing co-
production deals between South Africa and Germany.
The South African Indies stand generated a lot of interest, re-affirming South
Africa’s importance as a production destination. Additionally, international
producers are keen to do business with South African producers.
“There was a lot of interest in shooting films in South Africa and co-producing
films with South African producers.
“We see these conversations as a start to long-term co-production and service
relationships for the emerging filmmakers that went to EFM,’ concludes Khanyile.
The trade mission to EFM was made possible by the dti’s Export Marketing and
Investment Assistance (EMIA) with additional support from Wesgro, the official
investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape.