Since its inception in 2010, the Durban FilmMart (DFM) has helped to facilitate more than 80 African co-production projects, many of which have subsequently been produced as acclaimed films. As the African and South African industry grows, the quality and volume of submitted projects has increased every year, making DFM the leading independent film market on the continent and a major force in the facilitation of successful African films.
The 6th DFM takes place in Durban, at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni from 17 to 20 July 2015, during the 36th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (16 to 26 July 2015).
As a result of DFM’s success, DIFF now regularly includes works from DFM alumni in its programme. Major fiction projects from the last six years that have had their genesis at DFM and were subsequently screened at DIFF include Ayanda (DFM 2013), the opening film at this year’s festival, the acclaimed Boda Boda Thieves (DFM 2011) from Ugandan co-operative Yes! That’s Us films and Imbabazi: The Pardon (DFM 2012), a personal account of the Rwandan genocide. Non-fiction films which have been screened at DIFF and made a major splash around the world include the South African gangster documentary Devil’s Lair (DFM 2012), Unearthed (DFM 2013) which explores the dangers of fracking, and The Shore Break (DFM 2012), a vitally important film that chronicles the attempt of an international mining company to mine for titanium in one of the world’s last untouched natural areas.
Fiction film success stories
The Nigerian film Confusion Na Wa was a DFM project in 2010 and went on to win best film at the 2013 African Movie Awards, as well as other awards around the world. A dark comedy about a group of strangers whose fates become intertwined over the course of 24 hours, Confusion Na Wa was produced by Tom Rowlands-Rees and directed by Kenneth Gyang.
Imbabazi: the Pardon was one of the selected project at DFM in 2011, as a result of which producer-director Joel Karekezi attended the Rotterdam Lab in 2012. A very personal story about the genocide that took place in Rwanda, the film screened at DIFF 2014 as well as other festivals around the world, from Chicago to Luxor.
A Shot at the Big Time (DFM 2012) is inspired by the true story of director Janet van Eeden’s brother, Jimmy, who took his own life rather than fight in the Apartheid border war. After receiving its world premiere at DIFF, the film was selected for the Cannes Court Metrage, the short film corner of the official Cannes Festival 2014. The film was later nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the Independent Mzansi Short Film Festival. The feature film version of A Shot at the Big Time is currently in production.
Boda Boda Thieves began its life as a pitch at DFM 2011 and has gone on to receive international acclaim. A collaboration between South African producer James Tayler and Kenyan producer Sarah Muhoho, the project was awarded the CineMart Rotterdam Lab award at DFM and went on to win a Highlight Pitch Award at the Berlin Film Festival’s Talent Project Market. The Boda Boda Thieves tells the tale of a poverty-stricken family from Kampala, Uganda, who support themselves by driving a motorcycle taxi or “boda-boda’.
Ayanda, which was selected as a project for DFM in 2013, opens the 36th edition of DIFF. Directed by Sara Blecher and produced by Terry Pheto, the film tells the story of a 21-year-old woman who fights to save her late father’s motor repair shop when it is threatened with closure. Ayanda received its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June this year where it was awarded a special mention in the world fiction category.
Documentary success stories
South African director Mayenzeke Baza’s short documentary film Ndiyindoda (I Am a Man) tackles male circumcision, highlighting the dilemma it poses for South Africa as the country forges a position for itself in the modern world and attempts to reconcile its strongest traditions with newly enshrined democratic rights. Produced by Andy Jones, the project won Most Promising Documentary at DFM 2011, enabling Baza and Roughton to attend the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) later that year. The film premiered at the Encounters documentary festival and went on to be nominated for two South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) in 2014.
Devils Lair chronicles the life of a convicted murderer and gang leader named Braam as he comes to terms with a lifetime of dubious choices. Producer Neil Brandt and director Riaan Hendricks won Most Promising Documentary Project at DFM 2012 – which came with the opportunity to participate at IDFA Summer School and to pitch at the IDFA Forum. The film went on to premiere at Hot Docs and became one of the highlights of DIFF 2013. It received three nominations at the SAFTAs in 2014, going on to win Best Feature and Best Editor, as well as numerous other awards at festivals around the world.
Unearthed, directed by Jolynn Minnaar and produced by Dylan Voogt, Stacey Keppler and Saskia Schiel, explores the effects of fracking in the United States in anticipation of proposed shale gas extraction in the Karoo and elsewhere in Southern Africa. Selected as a project for DFM 2013 and winning the WorldView Development Grant, the film screened to enthusiastic audiences at DIFF in 2014 and won the Green Award at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival the same year.
The Shore Break was selected as a DFM project in 2012 and premiered at IDFA in 2014. A powerful documentary whose narrative is every bit as engaging as a fiction thriller, the film will screen at DIFF this year and has already screened at the Encounters documentary film festival. It was the only South African documentary in Competition at IDFA 2014 and the only South African feature length documentary selected for Hot Docs 2015 in Toronto. The film won Best Feature Length Documentary at the 2015 Festival International du Film d’Environnement (FIFE) in Paris and the Backsberg Audience Choice Award at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in June this year.
The Dreams of Shahrazad (DFM 2010) directed by Francois Verster and produced by Neil Brandt, Shameela Seedat and Wael Omar, explores the relationship between art and revolution through the famous story collection The 1001 Nights. The film received development and production support from DFM as well as the Sundance Institute, the IDFA Bertha Fund, the NFVF, the Hakkaya Network, the Dutch Film Fund and Spier Films, who also act as the films sales agent. The film premiered at the prestigious Masters Section of IDFA, and has gone on to receive critical acclaim and broadcast sales worldwide.
Other major successes that have emerged from DFM include the fiction-documentary hybrid Black President (DFM 2011), produced by Anna Teeman and directed by Mpumi Mcata (and also screening at DIFF this year), as well as the remarkable I, Afrikaner (DFM 2011), produced by Lauren Groenewald and directed by Annalet Steenkamp, which won Best South African documentary at DIFF in 2014. Khalo Matabane’s Mandela: The Myth and Me was selected as a DFM project in 2012 and won Special Jury at International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam IDFA. Like Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down (DFM 2013), it has been widely recognised as one of South Africa’s most important documentary films and has gone on to have an extremely rich life at festivals around the world.
Success stories still in the making
Black Sunshine tells the story of a 12-year-old albino girl named Coco and her mother Rosemary who longs to escape her frustrating African reality which is dominated by issues of skin colour. Selected for DFM 2013, the project won Arte France’s Arte International Award and received the Tribeca All Access grant. Produced by Obibini Pictures and directed by Akosua Adoma Owusu, the project was also selected for the 2012 edition of Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors co-production market.
Solidarite, which has been renamed I am not a Witch, is a tragi-comedy about a Zambian child prodigy from first-time director Rungano Nyoni. Solidarite was selected as project for DFM 2013 where Nyoni won the IFP Prize giving her the opportunity to present the project at IFP in New York. The same year Nyoni was also selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinefondation Residence. The project was awarded development funding from the Hubert Bals Fund and also participated in the Locarno Open Doors co-production market, winning the Arte Prize and Vision Sud Est Prize. I am not a Witch is about to go into financing stage of pre-production.
Sea Monster from the now globally successful Triggerfish Studios tells the story of an obsessive-compulsive science geek who discovers a primordial sea monster off the coast of South Africa. Like its predecessor Khumba, which achieved sales in a large number of territories, Sea Monster is aimed at a global audience, taking on Dreamworks and Pixar at their own game. Directed by Anthony Silverston and produced by Stuart Forrest, Sea Monster is still in development.
Flatland from producer David Horler and director Jenna Cato Bass was selected for DFM 2012 where it scooped three awards: the WorldView prize for the most promising feature project, the IFFR prize and the European Audio Visual Entrepreneurs (EAVE) prize. Set in the Karoo, Flatland is a South African feminist western which tells the tale of three women who face mental and physical hardships as they search for a fabled apartheid-era nuclear bomb. The film has since secured production support from the World Cinema Fund and has also secured a German co-producing partner, In Good Company, under producer Roshanak Behesht Nedjad. Flatland has secured intention for world sales from The Match Factory and production will begin in Winter 2016.