On 26 January, South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) announced
its funding outcomes for the third quarter of the 2014/15 financial year.
This came just over a month after the agency issued a statement saying that the
announcement, which is customarily made at the beginning of December, had been
delayed. The delay, which drew many questions and criticisms from the industry,
has been attributed to an administrative hold-up in the Department of Arts and
Culture (DAC), of which the NFVF is an agency.
Says NFVF CEO Zama Mkosi: “We were not in a position to finalise the outcomes
until the administrative issues over the funding that was meant to be transferred
from the DAC to the NFVF, had been resolved. I hope that the industry will
appreciate that a public insititution does not run like any other business. For us to
receive our funding there is a process that we need to follow with the DAC.
“With the change of administration last year there were some issues in terms of the
paperwork that needed to be in place to allow the release of funds to the NFVF.
While we could have released our funding decisions in the meantime, it would have
been irresponsible for us to do so. We manage public funds and we have to ensure
that we don’t finalise any financial commitments before we even have the
resources. Of course we understand that these delays are not good for business and
we continue to extend our apologies to the industry, but waiting for confirmation
from the DAC before making our decisions public was the responsible action to
The results of the deliberations show that the NFVF has met and exceeded its
targets for the financial year. In terms of development funding, the target was for
31 projects (consisting of both documentary and fiction). In the end a total of 34
projects were supported. The target of 25 projects for production funding was
exceeded by five, while a total of 61 bursaries were awarded, meeting the target
exactly. Mkosi points out that bursary funding has changed substantially over the
years. Previously, the bursaries provided only partial funding for a student’s
studies, they now cover them 100 per cent. All the details of the projects receiving
funding from the foundation as a result of these decisions are available on the NFVF
website under “Funding Cycle’.
According to Mkosi, the NFVF is facing increased demand from the industry in terms
of the services and funding it can offer. “This shows that there is growth in the
industry,’ Mkosi says. “It is our mandate to be an enabler of the industry and to
help stimulate and respond to that growth and we are bound to see it in what is
demanded of us. Unfortunately, our allocation from the fiscus does not grow. That
has led to situations where demand is much higher than what we can provide.
Previously it took us an entire year to spend our budget because we didn’t have as
many applications coming in. We might get around 100 applications per quarter.
Now we get around 400. That is why, at the end of the third quarter, we had
already met and exceeded our targets for production and development.’
Although bursaries, production and development budgets are all exhausted for
2014/15, during what is left of the year, there are still opportunities for funding in
four newer, lesser-known categories: development of TV formats, DVD distribution,
documentary archive and festival funding. Mkosi says that these categories have
been introduced over the past couple of years and do not generate as many
applications as expected.
“When it comes to archive, there was an outcry from documentary filmmakers over
the costs involved with accessing archive footage. We decided to intervene and we
can offer R250 000 per project for that purpose. We still have two opportunities
open for that,’ Mkosi says.
She continues: “Another area is the development of TV formats. This is one of our
initiatives to contribute towards an industry that grows from being hand-to-mouth to
self-sustaining. What this fund does is it assists people in the industry to generate
and develop new TV formats that they can then own and exploit themselves rather
than the intellectual property rights reverting to a broadcaster. There has not been
a large uptake on this yet. Here again we have two opportunities worth R200 000
With the remaining two categories, the NFVF hopes to address the distribution
bottleneck that the industry currently faces and to support new events that can fill
gaps in the country’s film festival circuit. It therefore provides funds for innovative,
straight-to-DVD, self-distribution models and supports and encourages the
foundation of new festivals. The DVD distribution fund currently offers nine grants
at R180 000 each and there is one festival funding grant available worth R350 000.
The deadline for applications in all of the four categories is