The 2018 Durban FilmMart (DFM), currently taking place alongside the 39th Durban International Film Festival at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, has seen a substantial increase in numbers in its ninth edition. Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office (DFO), beamed when sharing that numbers are up once again this year for Africa’s premier film market.
The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office, has for nine years presented this imperative hub for filmmakers from across the African continent and abroad with a specific aim at growing the African film industry.
In recent years projects coming out of the DFM have been gaining more international recognition at premium festivals and awards shows than ever before: “That is, I believe, due to how we have structured the mart,” says Monty. “We have created a global network of partners that are very interested in African content, that work with us throughout the year to identify new talents and that is where the magic lies.”
With this in mind, the DFO have implemented interesting programmes and incubators, with the help of its international partners, in order to further that growth going forward. One such initiative is the CaribbeanTales’ CineFAM programme: “We started the CineFAM Africa incubator last year on serialised content. It’s in its second year and we’ve got six projects incubated this year as well as two Canadian broadcasters that have come out to work with them. We’re going to be looking at the applicability and accessibility of the treaty in terms of serialised content and how we can increase co-production between Africa and Canada in the realm of serialised content.”
Monty shared that when developing the conference strand at this year’s DFM, the focus was as always on key areas of development for the African film industry. However, this year saw the introduction of new discussions targeted at tackling important issues currently affecting the global film industry. “First and foremost we have a focus on co-production as it is a co-production market. We have a focus on financing film in Africa… we also wanted to look at South Africa and Africa being an emerging market. We wanted to look at sustainability for filmmakers…” Monty comments, “But aside from that there were some very important issue that we wanted to bring into the discussions; the focus on women in film and transformation, as well as the #MeToo discussion – supported by SWIFT – are conversations we will continue with in years to come. We want to create stronger support for women both in front of and behind the camera.”
This year the DFM conference also touched on other topics that have arisen from recent public debate currently surrounding the industry: “We had a session titled ‘Are There Any Sacred Cows in Filmmaking’ where we looked at the issues and concerns around cultural appropriation in filmmaking… It is an incredibly important discussion, not just for filmmaking but for South Africans and Africans as a whole, and it’s something that we never really address because it’s a difficult conversation to have. We do hope to continue that thread over the next few editions.”
Additionally, Monty made note of the Isiphethu hub – launched this year in partnership with Durban Tourism – which is DIFF’s open industry programme, running for four days, aimed at introducing entry level, emerging and micro-budget filmmakers, as well as interested members of the public, to the inner-workings of the world of cinema. “DFM is a professional level market and whilst we have many emerging filmmakers in the Durban FilmMart, with Isiphethu, we wanted to create a place where entry-level filmmakers can feel at home and call it their own,” she comments.
Next year is a milestone year for the Durban FilmMart as it will be turning 10. “Next year will be 10 years of Durban FilmMart, it will be 40 years of DIFF. We have already started planning for 2019 and we certainly do plan on having a major celebration – so definitely watch this space! Ten years of DFM means it’s time to take it to the next level so we will certainly be bringing in some new aspects to the Durban FilmMart.”