CNN’s Inside Africa visits the shnit Cape Town film festival

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On the latest episode of Inside Africa, CNN International meets some of South Africa’s most creative minds during the shnit Cape Town film festival. In addition to hearing from aspiring filmmakers using short films to tackle social issues in the country, the programme also meets acting legend John Kani.

The shnit Annual Film Festival is an international event with screenings in eight cities around the world. Sean Drummond, the founding festival manager of the Cape Town shnit speaks about this global reach, “What’s exciting is that a festival like that we have 35 South African films, each by very different filmmaking audiences, coming together and being challenged by cultures, people and knowledge that’s outside of themselves. So African stories in a global space. Changing the perception people have of the continent.”

Drummond also speaks about the origins of the festival. He tells CNN, “In the beginning, it was a vehicle to show our films, our friends films, and as we expanded the scope of the festival, we would seek out South African films every year and the idea was really to use it as a platform to bring the best of what’s happening in the world in short film into South Africa, to inspire and educate and to feel connected.”

Inside Africa meets the filmmakers who are using the festival to showcase their work. These include director Mzonke Maloney. Maloney’s films, like many others in the festival, are made on shoestring budgets and he works on commercial productions to fund these passion projects. He talks about using the medium of short film to tackle social issues, “It’s interesting to see over the past couple of years, the type of films that have been made and what people are doing. I think there’s a lot of impetus and sort of energy towards telling real stories, things that come from these environments in engaging the tension instead of avoiding evading and demand and trying to speak around it.”

Author and shnit jury member Lauren Beukes tells the programme about the opportunities the festival provides for aspiring filmmakers, “There’s not usually a way for people to kind of rise up the ranks to become directors, to become script writers. And to be able to get onto the international stage, which is why I think short film festivals are so empowered. Because it’s not a feature film, it’s not millions of rands, you know, you can actually get something put together and get it out there to an international audience and kind of hone your craft.”

Another member of the shnit jury is renowned South African actor John Kani. He talks about being asked to join the judging panel, “So when I got called to be part of the chair of the judges, it was incredible. I was so excited because it exposes you to where the new trends are, what young people think now, what the film industry in South Africa where it is going almost putting a finger on the pulse.”

Although Kani is best known for his theatre and movie work, he also has a deep appreciation for short film as a genre, “There are people who love to do the short film because it’s so challenging … it’s so compact, so focused, and that sort of hits you with a punch, and you take a breather and said, I’m watching the next one.”

The shnit Cape Town film festival is a key opportunity for filmmakers across South Africa. Drummond acknowledges the importance of the festival, “It feels like, maybe for the first time, African voices are owning African stories.”

Inside Africa airs on Friday, 24 January, at 18h30 SAST on CNN International

The show also airs at the following times:

Saturday, 25 January at 09h30 SAST, 14h00 SAST and 19h30 SAST

Sunday, 26 January at 00h30 SAST, 05h30 SAST, 12h30 SAST

Monday, 27 January at 05h00 SAST

Tuesday, 28 January at 09h30 SAST