Echoing government’s reassurance to investors into South Africa’s economy, the Durban FilmMart, one of Africa’s premier film industry events will be open for business when it begins its four day event on 20 July during the 39th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).
The DIFF in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office, the City’s film industry development arm under the Economic and Development cluster has for nine years presented this important gathering for filmmakers from across the continent and further afield with the specific aim at growing the African industry.
“The DFM attracts an array of filmmakers including directors, producers, scriptwriters, investors and financiers, distributors and broadcasters as well as curators for festivals and other markets, and is globally renowned for providing an important springboard for African stories and ideas, collaborations and investment into film projects,” explains Toni Monty, head of the DFO and DFM. “Essentially this is how film projects are given a leg up to help them on their way.”
Speaking on behalf of the DFO, Monty says, “As a government entity, in partnership with the DIFF, we take our role very seriously in working on a highly professional level with filmmakers to ensure we provide an environment that is enabling for them.”
“The Mart brings in over 400 experts, people and organisations interested in potential film projects for further development. Here they are able to meet filmmakers from Africa, discuss and engage and then it’s over to them to conclude their business independently. The event ultimately seeks to build Durban as an important hub for doing film and television business in Africa.”
The DFM includes a series of masterclasses, seminars and panel discussions to help filmmakers keep up to date on trends, innovations and policies. There are also many networking opportunities for them to build strong business connections on both a continental and international level.
New for DFM is the appointment of local arts and culture administrator, Russel Hlongwane as the curator of both the DFM and DIFF’s industry programme, which has enabled a consolidation that speaks to the DIFF’s theme – ‘Leave No Filmmaker Behind.’
Hlongwane explains, “We have sought a programme that provides delegates with innovation and new thinking, and thought-leadership that we believe will provide insightful and meaningful engagements that can be taken forward.”
Key speakers this year include Dayo Ogunyemi, a Lagos-based creative entrepreneur and investor who will give presentation that foregrounds African markets as lucrative territories. Stephen Follows from the UK, is a leading trainer and thought-leader in how storytelling can be used to change hearts and minds. Follows is also a data researcher in the film industry, and will present a high level session which unpacks key shifts and trends shaping the market from an international perspective. LA-based Peter Russell is a screenwriter and story doctor in Hollywood who will present a session in which he will share the secrets of how film storytelling can be adapted into the red hot television storytelling market.
Another major highlight, which is sure to have filmmakers interests piqued, is that Richard Ray Perez, director: Creative Partnerships at the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Programme will address a gathering for delegates entitled ‘Stories of Change: A Collaborative Model for Impactful Storytelling.’
Sessions at DFM will look at the aesthetical and fundamental values that will define films from the African continent; insights into ways African filmmakers can source and work the often hard and tricky world of financing structures on the continent; how to work towards a more “entrepreneurial approach’’ to filmmaking without compromising creative content; distribution, and what makes a successful documentary.
Speaking to current issues, the South African Screen Federation will lead a discussion entitled, ‘Are there any Sacred Cows in Filmmaking?’ following the recent public debates around handling of sensitive social and cultural issues within film, and Sisters Working in Film and Television (SWIFT) will lead discussions on issues of sexual harassment, race and transformation in the industry. Other important discussions taking place include ‘The practicalities and importance of Co-Production Treaties and Copyright vs Copyleft – where to from here?’ The National Film and Video Foundation will also present a series of workshops and discussions on policies and local industry trends.
Additional insightful sessions will include the Department of Trade and Industry’s launch of the Industries Film Incentives Guidelines and Emerging Black Filmmakers’ Fund Guidelines. The programme will include a set of discussions, led by the Department of Arts and Culture, on current and future collaborations within the BRICS member countries. Filmmakers will have the opportunity to network with member country filmmaker delegations in attendance.
The official pitching forums will include representatives from sixteen pre-selected African film projects that will be pitching film projects to leading financiers, broadcasters and other potential funders and investors at the DFM’s finance forum.
Running parallel to the DFM, and supported by the experts and visiting speakers, is the Durban International Film Festival’s open industry programme, Isiphethu, aimed at introducing entry level, emerging filmmakers, micro-budget filmmakers as well as interested members of the public to the inner-workings of the world of cinema.
Manager of the DIFF, Chipo Zhou says, “Our strategy for Isiphethu, is to support filmmakers in developing quality content. We want to be able to offer these filmmakers opportunities to incubate projects, be mentored by experts, network with seasoned and experienced peers, and be included in the overall vision of the DIFF and DFM, to grow quality African content. In short to include this sector of the industry into the greater industry fold, “leaving no filmmaker behind.”
“The “economy” of film, is central to the objectives of the Durban FilmMart to encourage African filmmakers to look within to collaborate, finance and develop content,” says Toni Monty. “We are very excited to see so many DFM alumni projects that have come to fruition, doing very well on local and international festival and cinema circuits and many with good distribution deals: these include films like DIFF’s closing film Rafiki, Inxeba: The Wound and, Five Fingers for Marseilles, as well as Silas which is also screening at DIFF to name a few. This is exactly the strategy created by the DFO and DIFF nine years ago, and it is heartening to see the long-term value it provides for the African film industry. This year’s programme is rich in diversity and complexity, and we are looking forward to seeing Durban come alive with a real buzz of the business of filmmaking.”
The 9th Durban FilmMart takes place in Durban, at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni from 20 to 23 July 2018, during the 39th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (19 to 29 July 2018).
Online registration closes on 29 June 2018, but there is still opportunity to register on 19 July from 14h00 manually at the event. For more information on the Durban FilmMart and to register as a delegate visit the DFM website or for Durban International Film Festival, visit the DIFF website.