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NFVF strengthens its ties with France to support SA’s animation industry


South Africa’s budding animation talent made their way to the French lakeside town of Annecy to participate in the 43rd edition of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Mifa Market from 10 to 15 June 2019.

The students were part of the NFVF Student Mentorship Programme, held in partnership with Animation South Africa, the Department of Trade and Industry, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission and the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.

Joy Mawela, head of Industry Development and Promotions at the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), said: “The student mentorship programme is one of our training and education strategic plans, and the Annecy initiative was created to give an opportunity to animation students to advance their skills, build competitiveness and exposure and showcase their talent to the international animation industry.”

Heeding the call

The journey to Annecy began when the NFVF announced a nationwide competition, calling for final-year animation students to submit character designs inspired by lead characters from South African films.

“The call was released in April, and the submissions received were overwhelming,” says Mawela. “The quality of entries we received was a clear reflection that the South African animation industry is set to soar to greater heights.”

A large number of entries were submitted by students from The Animation School, including Claudia E’Silva. “I received numerous emails notifying me of the competition and my lecturer announced it to the entire class. My inspiration to enter was the Annecy Festival itself. Since I learnt about it in first year, it has been my goal to attend. Having been given this opportunity, there was no conceivable way I could give it up.”

E’Silva’s design is titled XI-1980, and is a futuristic reimagining of the character Xi from the South African cult favourite, The Gods Must Be Crazy. “I worked on my project in and around my third-year film duties for around a week… Finding out I had made it was honestly the happiest moment of my third-year experience,” enthused E’Silva.

The film Spud was a huge inspiration for a number of applicants, including Abraham Mohotsi and Antoinette Malan, who are both completing their Digital Animation diploma at The Animation School.

Mohotsi’s design, titled Student Mentorship Programme, is inspired by the male character Troye from Spud, while Malan designed a sporty, female character named Kimberly.

“I was constantly thinking about her and what her personality was like and where her interests lie…” says Malan. “I really wanted to do my best and make my family and friends as well as myself proud.”

Journey to Annecy

The shortlisted entries underwent an intense judging process by industry experts Lesego Vorster and Tumelo Selamolela, as well as 2018 Annecy winners Terence Maluleke and Smangaliso Sibaya.

Malan, Mohotsi, E’Silva and Jared Dean Mahonri were the four students selected to showcase their artwork at Annecy alongside South African animation professionals.

The NFVF arranged a jam-packed, five-day programme for the four winners which included attending pitching sessions, masterclasses and film screenings, as well as networking sessions with students from the Gobelins Animation College and industry experts.

Lesego Vorster, who is an alumnus from Gobelins, acted as a mentor to the students throughout their Annecy journey.

Earlier this year, Vorster worked with Gobelins to provide an internship programme for 20 animation students from the Tshimologong Animation Studio. The programme was dedicated to developing authentic African aesthetics through appropriate referencing and understanding of design and storytelling fundamentals.

Speaking about the programme, Vorster said: “The partnership with Gobelins offers interns strong support from one of the best schools in the world, not only in raising the standard and quality of the work to come out of the Tshimologong Animation Studio, but also to broaden the horizons of all interns.”

NFVF partners with Gobelins

At Annecy, the NFVF signed an official partnership agreement with Gobelins and the French Embassy of South Africa.

The agreement is aimed at growing South Africa’s animation industry by presenting opportunities for future collaborations – including skills exchange – between African animation productions and institutions and their French counterparts.

Furthermore, the NFVF promised to contribute more than EUR16 000 (R268 000) towards scholarships for South Africans to study at Gobelins. The scholarship programme is additionally funded by The Animation School and Campus France.

Karien Benz from Cape Town has been selected as the first student to be awarded the scholarship to study for a Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking.

“South African animators have been creating soundwaves across international borders over the last decade, and it’s essential that – as the funding body mandated to ensure the development and growth of the film industry in South Africa – we have partnered to create a scholarship with Gobelins,” comments Mawela.

First co-production between South Africa and China currently in development


The first-ever co-production between South Africa and China – a conservation-inspired story entitled A Pair of Golden Wings – is in advanced stages of development.

With Darrell Roodt set to direct and Murray Clive Walker slated for a starring role, the project represents an exciting partnership between the two BRICS countries.

A Pair of Golden Wings is largely set in China’s Qinghai Province, situated in the northern foothills of the Himalayas, as well as the northern wetlands of Gauteng. It tells the story of a conservationist who strives to protect China’s endangered red-crowned crane. When she comes across a blue crane with a South African tag, she decides to return the bird to its original nesting-ground.

The production of A Pair of Golden Wings plans to bring Africa and Asia together in a friendly, cultural collaboration. The film will be the first co-production of its kind between China and South Africa, and will also mark a big step towards greater cultural collaboration between the BRICS countries.

“In the future, we hope to shoot more films that communicate to the world the beauty, charm and ethnic diversity that these countries possess. China and South Africa have a good political relationship and we want to strengthen it through this kind of cultural storytelling,” says Murray Clive Walker, who is also acting as co-producer of the film.

Walker explains that he set up Colony Films “six months ago, with the express purpose of doing a co-production with China. I got back to Johannesburg at the end of 2017, after working in China for 14 years, and it was a question of deciding to ‘do what I know.’ It occurred to me that I could leverage my Chinese resources and the experience I had of working in both countries.”

Walker continues: “I was in conversation with producer Jin – who I met about seven or eight years ago doing another movie – and he was on the lookout for a top director for this project of his. I told him I knew Darrell Roodt, who is an Oscar-nominated director – but the more we spoke about it, the more we both realised it would be ideal to make it a co-production.”

Providing an update of the progress of the project, Walker explains that “we have completed the first stage of three. We have just invited two Chinese representatives to Cape Town and Johannesburg to meet with Darrell and producer Greig Buckle at Enigma Pictures – a company which has done great work over the years in production services, including five months on Mad Max: Fury Road. The representatives also visited Cape Town Film Studios, Atlantic Film Studios and Refinery Post Production, and conducted meetings at the Gauteng Film Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Chinese Embassy.”

Walker and Roodt are “currently working on the script to adapt it for the co-production. We need to flesh out the local scenes and make sure we have twenty-one filming days in South Africa – and next we’ll fly over to Beijing in April. There’ll be a whole delegation of us, hopefully with representatives from the Gauteng Film Commission and the DTI, to participate in the official signing of the contract. And after that,” he concludes, “we’ll be able to head into production.”

Impressive opening for 3 Days To Go at the local box office

Local “dramedy”, 3 Days To Go, has passed the R1 Million mark at the box office since its release on Friday, 25 January, with more than 17 696 tickets sold. It ranked number 5 at the local box office.

“Thank you South Africa for coming out in the numbers to support our film. Looking forward to your continued support. If you have a family, then you need to see this film,” said director, Bianca Isaac.

The film tells the story of adult siblings who, after the sudden death of their father, are forced to return to their childhood home – with an assortment of partners, children and issues in tow. They need to survive three days in each other’s company, under one roof, before they spread their father’s ashes and part ways.

The movie boasts an impressive cast, which includes, Leeanda Reddy, Bollywood’s Lillette Dubey, Jailoshini Naidoo, Kajal Bagwandeen, Rahul Brijnath, Pranesh Maharaj, Ruben Naidoo and Zakeeya Patel as the dysfunctional Isaac family. They are joined on screen by Jonathan Boynton-Lee, Tumi Morake and Ashish Gangapersad. Highlighting Isaac’s affinity towards nurturing young talent, 3 Days To Go also features newcomer Kiara Govender.

Movie critics are praising the film:

“Tragedy, comedy, betrayal, fear, hatred, deception, pain, love, redemption, and the true spirit of family are all woven into the tapestry of this moving film. Writer and director Bianca Isaac, along with producer Gregory Mthanji, and co-producer Bagwandeen-Singh, have brought to life a masterpiece whose impact lingers long after the credits have rolled.” –  Clinton Marius: ArtsMart

“This heart-warming movie about family and personal struggle transcends racial, and cultural boundaries. 3 Days to Go is the perfect movie to go see with your mother, brother, sister or cousin…” –   Graye Morkel: Channel 24

“The film 3 Days to Go is a sweetly sentimental South African production with a strong emotional thread which will appeal to a wide cross-section of cinemagoers. First-time movie director and writer Bianca Isaac has done a sterling job in marrying the elements, using split-screen techniques and Hollywood gloss to convey her multi-layered story.” – Peter Feldman: Citizen.

The film was produced in association with the KZN Film Commission (KZNFC), the IDC and the DTI.

Watch the trailer here.


Sunu Gonera’s Riding with Sugar starts filming in Cape Town

Afrocentric, inherently cool feature film Riding with Sugar has started shooting in Cape Town and promises to be a visual masterpiece. Written and directed by awarded filmmaker Sunu Gonera, Riding with Sugar is a coming-of-age, feel-good story about a young refugee who, despite many setbacks, finds his way, finds love and a chance to create a better life in Cape Town.

True to Gonera’s style, the film will have an unique African aesthetic with powerful, visually rich scenes and an undercurrent of passion and true grit.

With a British, Kenyan, Nigerian and South African cast, its highly anticipated 2019 release promises to wow audiences in South Africa, the continent and internationally.

Once a scholarship student with a great future, Joshua (Charles Mnene, UK) dreams of winning a BMX cycling championship as a means to finding a better life, but fate intervenes in the form of an accident that shatters his knee. He is given shelter and a job by Mambo (Hakeem Kae-Kazim, UK) who houses refugee teenagers from all over Africa.

When Joshua meets Olivia (Simona Brown, UK), a talented young dancer of mixed race from a well-to-do family, it brings him into a world he has never known before. Her insights cast a shadow over Mambo’s agenda and cause Joshua to rise above all odds and find a way to a brighter future.

“Making this film has been a dream for me since I first returned to South Africa from the States five years ago,” says Gonera.

Coming back rebooted my directing career and ignited the deep love for my continent and a passion to tell our African stories, our way. It helped me discover my voice as a filmmaker.”

The film boasts a strong cast which includes Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Black Sails, Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men, Hotel Rwanda), Charles Mnene (The Bill, Holby City, Doctors, Ahead of the Class), Simona Brown (Guilt and Roots, Him) and Brendon Daniels (League Of Glory, Madame and Eve, Five Fingers For Marseilles).

With music at its core, expect cameos from some of popular South African talent.

The production of the film has been made possible with the support of The National Lotteries Commission (NLC), The Department Of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Arco Venture Capital.

The dti heads to America to attract investment in film industry

The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) will lead a group of filmmakers to Los Angeles in the United States of America to attend the popular American Film Market (AFM) from 30 October to 7 November 2018.

The delegation will include emerging black production and service companies currently active across different aspects of South Africa’s film value chain such as animation, content developers, and distribution and production management. The companies must boast proven and credible experience in the local industry, and have marketable projects to be showcased to prospective investors at the market. The South African delegation will undertake site visits to identified international studios where they will deliver presentations on investment projects for acquisition, distribution and film servicing opportunities.

According to the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, the mission is part of the dti’s efforts to attract foreign investment in the South African film and television sector, and to showcase the advances and competitive opportunities for international film studios shooting on location in South Africa.

“The AFM is a great networking platform for South Africa to showcase its attained competencies and will help drive inward investment from international studios. The promotional platform further affords South Africa opportunity to foster closer ties with partner countries that we have co-production treaties with and garner increased involvement from large film markets such as the United States of America. We have recognised the importance of the sector’s contribution to the country’s economic growth and job creation imperatives. We have been providing support to the film and television sector since 2004 and have recently launched the revised Film and Television Incentive Scheme. We feel that the revised incentive, compounded by excellent film servicing experience, will make it more attractive to film in South Africa,” says Magwanishe.

He adds that the support provided by the dti to the film and television sector has been a major contributing factor in assisting these sectors to become firmly entrenched on the global stage for film and television production, whilst also providing strong support for local production and employment creation.

During the 2017/18 financial year 99 productions were approved under the department’s incentive schemes, with a projected investment of almost R2.9 billion. More than 9 000 jobs were projected to be created through this support.

Sidwell Medupe
Tel: (012) 394 1650
E-mail: MSMedupe@thedti.gov.za

The Africa Hub makes its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival

The Africa Hub was conceptualised by national film funding bodies from South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia in attempt to augment African presence at international film festivals and markets. The Hub made its debut at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on 6 September and will run until 16 September 2018. The term Africa Hub has been coined to represent the unified initiative to positioning Africa and a lucrative film destination filled with numerous opportunities for collaboration and partnerships.

South Africa will be represented by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and Department of Trade and Industry (dti). Nigeria will be represented by the National Film Video Censors Board, while the Namibia Film Commission will represent Namibia.

The objectives of the hub is to promote co-productions, to build relationships with partners for best practise sharing, open new markets for African content and to promote content produced in African countries.

The Africa Hub will serve as a home for all Africans at the film festival and will be the go-to place for all institutions or countries interested in doing business with the countries represented at the Hub.

“The Africa Hub is part of the NFVF’s focus on strengthening relationships with other African countries. The objective is to work together as film organisations in the continent to ensure that our content travels within the region and internationally. But it is also to foster agreements that will create opportunities to co-create content,” says NFVF acting CEO Shadrack Bokaba.

The NFVF congratulates Rafiki, Sew The Winter To My Skin and aKasha for being selected into the official festival programme.

Rafiki directed by Wanuri Kahiu

Rafiki is a love story between two young women (played by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) in a society that still bans homosexuality; Rafiki is saturated with joy, heartbreak, and a richly effervescent cinematography that showcases Kahiu’s native Nairobi in all its vibrancy.

When Kena and Ziki first lock eyes, it’s a genuine coup de foudre despite the fact their families are political rivals. The young women grow close, but as they are not able to show their attraction in public — or even to their relatives and friends — they are forced to sneak small moments in private. Together they create their own world, vividly evoked through Kahiu’s filmic eye, where their love isn’t anything other than an expression of their commitment to each other. The space they create, however, isn’t immune to the biases of the outside world.

See the Rafiki trailer here

Sew the Winter to my Skin directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka

One of the most exciting voices in South African filmmaking, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka looks back to the early days of the repressive apartheid regime and reimagines the capture of John Kepe, the “Samson of the Boschberg Mountains.” For decades, Kepe stole livestock and other goods from white colonist farmers and shared his spoils with the impoverished Indigenous population. His acts — and that he evaded capture for more than 12 years — earned him the title of folk hero to some, and a notorious bandit to others.

Qubeka picks up Kepe’s tale in the 1950s, during the massive hunt by authorities to apprehend and punish this mid-century Robin Hood figure. On one hand, is a keenly observed epic-adventure drama (and a nod to the western) that captures the horrors of South Africa’s racist colonial regime. Qubeka, however, also subverts the conventions of the period piece by using limited dialogue and an immersive score. Instead of simply romanticising Kepe’s myth again, Qubeka, through his evocative formal choices, probes, as he says, “mankind’s inherent need to feed into mythologies that conveniently suit the order of the day.”

See the  Sew the Winter to my Skin trailer here.

aKasha directed by Hajooj Kuka

Documentarian Hajooj Kuka takes a self-assured step towards fictional storytelling in this comedy pivoting on an unlikely love triangle between a boy, a girl, and an AK-47 in rebel-held areas of Sudan.

No viable solution to the civil war in rebel-held areas of Sudan has been found since the outbreak of violence in 2011. But every year in the Nuba Mountains region, all sides are forced to put down their arms due to an unlikely power: mud. During the rainy season, rebels return home to their families and loved ones to take advantage of the pause in fighting. It’s right after this welcome lull that Hajooj Kuka begins his offbeat comedy about a love triangle between a boy, a girl, and an AK-47.

After a post-coital argument with Lina (Ekram Marcus), Adnan (Kamal Ramadan) hightails it without grabbing his gun. With his pants barely pulled up, he runs into Absi (Ganja Chakado), a young man who’s not keen on rejoining the fighting. He wants to dodge the “kasha,” the annual round-up of soldiers. The pair then embarks on a wild 24 hours — dodging their higher-ups, elders, and romantic rivals alike — to try and get back Adnan’s girl, his gun, and his dignity.

See the aKasha trailer here.

Call for filmmakers to participate in Outward Film Investment Mission in LA

The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) invites filmmakers to apply to participate in an Outward Film Investment Mission that will take place in Los Angeles, United States of America (USA) from 31 October to 7 November. The closing date for receipt of application forms is 4 September 2018.

The mission aims to promote South African audio-visual content in animation, feature films and television series. The mission also seeks to promote South Africa’s film industry landscape, film infrastructure projects and shooting locations to international producers.

The investment mission forms part of the dti’s objective to promote South Africa’s Film service offerings and attract co-production partners from USA.

The invitation to apply is extended to experienced South African filmmakers who have a proven track record for developing and producing two to five theatrically released feature films, animation, TV series, TV fiction and/or non-fiction in the past two years.

Companies will be screened and selected in line with recognised guidelines and market requirements.

For the approved companies, the dti will provide accommodation (bed and breakfast only), and economy class return airfare to a maximum of R17 000.

The EMIA application forms and guidelines can be accessed on this link. All applications are to be couriered. No emailed applications will be considered.

Submit the form together with the required documents by courier to:

The dti Campus,
EMIA Division
Building A, Ground Floor
77 Meintjies Street

South African animation at Annecy and MIFA

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, was part of a substantial delegation that represented the South African animation industry at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

The industry organisation, Animation South Africa (ASA), supported by the NFVF, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC) and Wesgro, hosted a vibrant stand characterised by uniquely South African animation characters.

The South African delegation grew substantially in 2018 with 14 filmmakers in the delegation supported by the NFVF. The growth of the number of South African filmmakers attending this festival is directly correlated with Annecy and MIFA’s growth and importance as the meeting place for animators globally.

The South African animation industry cemented its position as a key contributor that can offer the world unique creativity when Belly Flop, an NFVF funded film, directed by Kelly Dillon and Jeremy Collins, was one of the four short films that were screened during the closing night of the festival on 16 June 2018. Another proud moment for South African animation was Isaac Mogajane’s project, Junk Pilots, winning the Disney Channel Prize for a New Series Award during the 2018 MIFA pitches.

The focus of the NFVF’s activities was to create a unique opportunity to showcase the South African animation industry and to offer skills transfer opportunities for the young filmmakers that constituted of the majority of the delegation.

The South African Territory Focus session hosted on 14 June 2018, was a combination of projects from new filmmakers in the animation industry; Rapulani and Rapunzel represented by Yolanda Mogatusi; Ukuru represented by, Isaac Mogajane, Terrence Malukele and Simanga Sibaya; Time Sliders represented by Clare Louis; and Siko represented by Craig Parker and Jacques Bock. The session was an extension of the NFVF’s commitment to creating unique opportunities to globally position the South African film industry at key strategic platforms.

Two of the youngest participants, Terrence Malukele and Simanga Sibaya, attended the festival and market for the first time and found the experience invaluable

Nommer 37 now at local cinemas

The acclaimed ‘Hitchcockian’ South African crime thriller, Nommer 37, premiered at local cinemas on Friday, 1 June.

“My hope is that this film will be seen by all South Africans because the story is so universal and relatable, whilst giving us a peek into a world that’s familiar to some but unknown by most through the lens of a voyeur. By the time the audience walks out of the cinema, they will have been thoroughly entertained, surprised and quite possibly (though questionably) looking to buy a pair of binoculars,” says director and writer Nosipho Dumisa, who is also a producer of the kykNET soap opera, Suidooster.

This production, which had its world premiere at the International SXSW Film Festival in Texas, was selected to represent the country at the 18th annual Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) in Switzerland from 6 to 14 July 2018. It was also recently announced that Dark Star Pictures gained exclusive North American distribution rights. The North American screening of the full-length feature will kick off in New York and L.A., followed by an early winter video-on-demand release. Reel Suspects has also managed to clinch distribution deals for the film in China, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan.

Nommer 37 is based on the SAFTA-award-winning short film of the same name, which was co-directed by Nosipho Dumisa and Travis Taute. The movie is set in Haven Mansions, a fictional block of apartments in her imagined suburb of the Cape Flats, New Haven. It tells the story of Randal Hendricks (Irshaad Ally), a recent paraplegic, who is given a gift of binoculars by his devoted girlfriend, Pam (Monique Rockman). But he is in financial debt to Emmie (Danny Ross), a sadistic loan shark, and when he witnesses a powerful criminal, named Lawyer (David Manuel), commit murder while observing his neighbours through his binoculars, he initiates a blackmail scheme in an attempt to settle his debt. With deception and greed around every corner, what follows is a thrilling ride that puts both their lives in mortal danger… as the world around Randal deteriorates further and further into chaos.

The film also stars Sandi Schultz, Deon Lotz, Elton Landrew, Ephraim Gordon and Luke Jansen. It was produced by Bradley Joshua and Benjamin Overmeyer of South African production outfit Gambit Films with XYZ Films.

The film was produced by Gambit Films in association with kykNET Films, M-Net, XYZ Films and the DTI, and is distributed by Ster-Kinekor Entertainment locally, in cinemas across the country.

Watch the trailer of the movie HERE.

Award-winning Wonderlus now playing at cinemas

When a picture-perfect country wedding ends in a fiasco, the next morning a group of severely hungover friends who have known each other since varsity days find themselves having to piece together what happened the previous night. In search of answers, the groom seeks to pursue the love of his life, the bride tries to untangle herself from the past and a waitress aims to escape the present. That’s the story at the heart of Wonderlus, a new Afrikaans film that opened on 27 April.

The film looks at the meaning of true love and whether there is a balance between ‘doing what is right’, and ‘doing what is right for you’.

Directed and written by Johan Cronjé, it stars a fresh young cast including Mila Guy, Edwin van der Walt, Beer Adriaanse, Simone Nortmann, Lynelle Kenned and Stiaan Smith. Lea Vivier won the Silwerskerm festival award for Best Actress for her role as the waitress in Wonderlus, a free spirit who plans to teach English overseas. Adriaanse won the festival’s award for Best Supporting Actor, while Best Script went to Cronjé.

“This is a contemporary and racy story that is unlike any other Afrikaans film we’ve seen before,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing the film. The dialogue is modern and reflects how young Afrikaans-speaking people talk today. Above all, the film is an existential reflection on love and marriage that is at times heartbreakingly funny and at others really sad.

Wonderlus asks questions about love and responsibility,” says Cronjé. “They are well-known themes, but I believe it’s important to continue to question how and why people experience certain emotions and how we create ideas about what love is – that interrogation is even more important than trying to find the answers. Much of the film is really intimate, and that’s because I wanted to tell the story honestly.”

Shot by Devin Toselli, the camera work is a stand-out feature, as are the scenes set in an endless field of sunflowers, and of friends lost in the veld. “We shot the film entirely with hand-held cameras, apart from a few shots mounted on a car. The soft untenable moment of a camera held in a hand is such a lovely tool to keep an audience engaged.”

The film was produced by Nouvanaand Films in association with kykNET Films, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

View the teaser trailer, HERE.

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