SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:
As the dust settles on the incredibly successful Cape Town International Film Market and Festival (CTIFMF), we dig below the headlines to recognise some of the impressive results and processes that came out of the event.
It was truly inspiring to see so many diverse role players – even those that, at times, may be at odds with each other on certain issues – gather together and commit to the hard but necessary work to grow the industry.
Various stakeholders from the City of Cape Town have proven wholly committed to supporting the local film industry, from the Mayor’s office to the team at Wesgro [the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape]. Whilst they have made mistakes and the need to scrutinise and constructively monitor and engage with their policies remains, it is clear that the intent to drive and support the industry is real. The involvement and support from a policy point of view has been complemented by tangible financial support for the sector and a willingness to listen.
The Western Cape Department of Culture, Arts and Sports also came to the table, with their support enabling 500 young people to visit the festival. Equally important as the opportunity for these young people to see themselves and their stories reflected back at them on screen, was the opportunity for them to discover entirely new career paths.
Chatting to one learner who wasn’t quite sure about what it all meant, I explained to her that she could work in the film industry and that there were dozens of potential jobs, from being a cameraperson or a producer to a make-up artist or set designer. When I pointed her towards the ADFA stand and mentioned that she could go and speak to people from one of the best film schools in Africa she literally ran over to them in excitement. Hopefully one day we will see that young woman return to the festival as a professional within the industry.
Lives were changed during some of the smaller closed-door sessions that occurred during the festival. The Works in Progress programme offered an unparalleled opportunity for filmmakers, some still starting in their careers, to get in-depth, specific and constructive feedback from an international panel of experts hardly ever found in one room. Industry experts included representatives from Berlinale’s European Film Market and Berlinale Africa Hub; Tribeca; Toronto International Film Festival; London BFI; international sales companies such as Pyramide International and Flourishing Films; talent agents Casarotto and Curtis Brown; M-Net; Indigenous Films; Ster-Kinekor; and Post Production South Africa.
The Work Café session focused on the difficult policy discussions that need to happen across government levels and structures. The importance of engagement from local and city structures, through to national government, and ultimately to pan-African agreements was made abundantly clear in this full-day session.
Sitting around one table and facing the realities of the film industry in the three continental power houses of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, were representatives from Wesgro, The KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, the National Film and Video Foundation, the Department of Trade and Industry, The Kenya Film Commission and The Nigeria Film Corporation.
Each of the representatives was surprised to find the similarities of the challenges that they all face, and perhaps the most important result of the meeting was the commitment of all involved to continue the conversations between each other, and with their respective governmental organisations.
It was readily acknowledged that despite some African countries (notably South Africa) having co-production treaties with a host of non-African countries, in Sub-Saharan Africa, no African countries have such co-production agreements in place. Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa’s governments all have funds available to local filmmakers, and by collaborating across these territories filmmakers can exponentially increase their access to funding.
There was also the real understanding that many of the barriers to such collaboration come from other areas of government, such as the on-going and taxing issue of visas for African people looking to do business across the continent. Nigeria and South Africa’s tit-for-tat visa spats continue, and across the continent it is sometimes either exorbitantly expensive to travel, impossible to secure visas – or both.
Another tangible outcome from the festival was the confirmation of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) becoming official partners of the CTIFMF, as part of the on-going annual European Audio Visual Entrepreneurs (EAVE) programme. Five African and five European producers will be selected to take part in a year-long programme, where 10 audio-visual projects will be developed through two residential workshops and presented at CTIFMF October 2019 and at the 38th CineMart in January 2020.
EAVE aims to provide professional training opportunities and to bring producers from different regions of the world together with the goal of facilitating co-production relationships, and this rigorous programme will afford these African producers the incredible opportunity to develop their projects in a global collaborative process.
The CTIFMF 2018 saw exponential growth in this its 2nd edition, in large part to the outreach and inclusion of other local and national events. Instead of seeing each other as competitive threats, film festivals in South Africa are realising that by working together towards a greater goal, by synchronising their efforts, the entire industry benefits. This year, representatives from the Durban International Film Festival and FilmMart, the Shnit Short Film Festival, the Black Filmmakers Film Festival and even from regional counterpart the Zimbabwe International Film Festival, were all involved in one way or another with the CTIFMF. Monthly industry gatherings for the industry were organised by market director Elias Ribeiro and ensured the buy-in of the local industry – absolutely critical for the success of the event.
It’s often these stories, sometimes not covered in detail, that are the real successes of any festival. Without a doubt, the buy-in, good-will and positive energy cultivated at this year’s event will be powerful drivers towards a more inclusive and sustainable industry for all.