South African genre films represented at Fantasia Film Festival

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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) together with the Association for Transformation in Film and Television (ATFT) and The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), recently took a delegation of emerging filmmakers to the Frontieres, Co-Production Market, part of the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal Canada, from the 21 to the 24 July.

Fantasia is one of the world’s largest genre film festivals, showcasing the best of horror, action, fantasy and sci-fi films from around the world and in its 8th addition this year. The Frontieres Market is designed to accelerate the financing and distribution of genre projects from Europe and North America through a pitching forum for shortlisted projects. This year thanks to the partnership with the ATFT, Frontieres created a special international spotlight on South Africa, selecting three projects from the region to pitch to sales agents, financiers and potential co-producers.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase these really exciting & innovative South African genre film projects to the international industry at Frontieres. There are some truly intriguing talents behind these projects, which are ideally suited for the international marketplace,’ said market director Lindsay Peters.

The three projects selected were the military themed horror film Corpsemen, presented by producer John Volmink from Diprente Films, the serial killer thriller Durban Road, presented by director Mathew Griffiths from Echoledge Productions, and the supernatural thriller My Dark Heart presented by director/producer James Adey from Fiction Films. The value of this unique opportunity was explained further by John Volmink of Diprente Films, “The nature of this particular market is such that there is opportunity for multiple interactions with the same group of people and so extremely useful relationships were developed with sales agencies, financiers and co-producers specific to the genre sector.’

The delegation was part of the ATFT’s on-going Export Accelerator programme that assisted the filmmakers in preparing their projects and pitches ahead of the market. The ATFT’s Export Accelerator ’s market readiness programme partnered with established companies and experts in the genre space such as XYZ Films’ Todd Brown who was in Johannesburg in June and presented a workshop specifically on Frontieres and Fantasia. XYZ Films is the sales company that picked up iNumber Number in 2013 at TIFF and brokered the remake deal with Universal Studios.

AAA Entertainment was also in attendance at the festival and represented three projects as either the sales agent or executive producers. My Dark Heart selected for the pitches, Dumi Gumbi’s supernatural-tokoloshe thriller Alone, and Zuko Nodada’s giant mutant rat creature feature Rat’s Tail, where all represented by AAA Entertainment’s Pascal Schmitz.

AAA Entertainment was in search of financing and distribution, as well as potential co-production partners, as Schmitz explains, “I have never been to another market in the world were everyone is so relevant to genre films and there is such easy access to otherwise impossible to reach companies, in the genre space for distribution, financing, casting and festival access.’

The importance of genre filmmaking cannot be overestimated, especially for South African filmmakers. Just days before the start of Fantasia, The American Film Market released the results of their detailed analysis of independent breakout films over the past ten years and named three breakout genres, horror being one of them.

“It seems clear that this is a space South Africa needs to be playing in and is perfectly setup to take advantage of, and we look forward to the first genre success stories that will put independent local black filmmakers on the map globally’ says Mayenzeke Baza director of international affairs at the ATFT.

He goes on to explain further, “horror films and genre films in general have large audiences globally that constantly demand new titles and are far more open to films from other territories than the one they are in, regardless of cast. Genre film distributors are therefore always looking for interesting new titles and South African films can easily find a market here without having to cast big actors or attach established directors, making it the perfect space for emerging producers and first time directors.’

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