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Lara Utian-Preston

Lara Utian-Preston
Lara Utian-Preston is a passionately committed marketer and strategist with a focus on promoting African content and events. Two decades of working across Africa have provided her with insights and experience that she puts to work for the projects she manages. In 2006, Lara founded, and still personally manages, Red Flag Content Relations, a full service below-the-line agency that also focuses on African entertainment and lifestyle brand marketing, strategy, and publicity.

Local TV series selected by C21 London International Drama Pitch Summit

In a first for a South African drama series, Both Worlds’ Unarmed has been selected as one of the finalists for C21 Content London 2018 Drama Series Pitch. From over 100 submissions from established drama creators worldwide bidding to attract additional finance and co-production partners, C21 selected Both Worlds’ political spy thriller as one of the final eight invited to pitch at the International Drama Summit on 27 November 2018.

Unarmed will be presented at the International Drama Summit at Content London on Tuesday, 27 November between 15h00 and 16h30. The series will compete with productions from France, The Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and the UK. The winning project will be announced at The International Drama Awards, which take place from 19h00 on Wednesday, 28 November.

Unarmed, in advanced development stage, has attached internationally recognised talents including Shawn Slovo (A World Apart, Catch A Fire, Mohammed Ali’s Greatest Fight) who developed the pilot script alongside Both Worlds’ Thierry Cassuto and Karen Jeynes, Charlotte Brändström (Colony, The Witcher) as director, and Academy Award nominee Djimon Hounsou (Amistad, Guardians of the Galaxy) as the lead.

The series is a fact based thrill ride through Southern Africa, Germany, France and Belgium in both the late eighties and present day. When terrorists pull off an audacious heist at Pelindaba,  one of the world’s largest stores of highly enriched uranium, and a representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency is brutally murdered, the world’s eyes are turned to Southern Africa and the threat of a dirty bomb. Unarmed is based on the premise that South Africa finally agrees to hand over its weapon-grade uranium stores, a legacy from the atomic bombs the apartheid regime made in defiance of UN sanctions, and thirty years of secrets were to be revealed.

Both Worlds is a Cape Town based South African production company known for its many award-winning programmes including twice International Emmy nominated and multiple SAFTA winner ZANEWS’ Puppet Nation, as well as Point of Order and Operation Rainbow Warrior. Both Worlds has recently launched a high-end scripted programmes division, and has several series in advanced stage of development with local and international broadcasters.

The Content London International Drama Pitch Summit is the world’s highest platform to launch scripted series to the international marketplace, providing access to over 2000 of the industry’s top executives. The winning pitch will receive a marketing package through C21Media worth £30,000 to support series’ development and pre-sales promotion.

For more information on Both Worlds, visit their website.

CTIFMF wraps up another successful edition

For 11 days, from 9 to 19 October, the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival (CTIFMF) ensured the focus of the media, the public and key industry stakeholders on the importance of films and filmmaking within the socio-economic eco-system. The gathering of industry professionals and film-lovers was unprecedented in terms of the profile and numbers of those in attendance.

The eleven days of film screenings commenced with the festival’s Opening Night, one of the most high-profile events the city has seen in years with over 1 300 guests descending on the massive red carpet that draped the Artscape Theatre’s piazza. South Africa’s submission for the Oscars, and the film that went on to win Best South African Feature at the festival, Sew the Winter to My Skin, was screened to commemorate the occasion.

Throughout the remaining 10 days, Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau at the V&A Waterfront saw a host of red carpet premieres and multiple sold out shows for some of the 160+ films from South Africa, the rest of the continent and further afield. International juries, filmmakers, members of the media and thousands of Capetonians including over 500 students who were brought in from across the Cape Flats, were able to enjoy the eclectic selection curated by festival director Leon van der Merwe and the larger festival team.

In terms of both the market and the festival, the 2018 edition of the CTIFMF saw exponential growth in attendance, partnerships, as well as industry and public support. This year the festival reached an estimated 70 million people through social media and press coverage. Increased attendance this year also impacted positively on tourism with an emphasis on breaking cultural barriers and unlocking new markets such as the Muslim and MENA regions through a partnership with Africa Halal Week.

Moreover, this year the festival screened no less than 10 films that are official submissions from their respective countries for the Oscars. Namely, Sew the Winter to my Skin (South Africa), Supa Modo (Kenya) and Dogman (Italy) to mention a few. The latter of which went on to win the Best Actor, Best Director as well as the Grand Prix Award. This exceptional quality of film submissions is testament to the rising prestige that the CTIFMF has already achieved over just two years and asserts its relevance within the global film festival fraternity.

As CTIFMF executive chairman Rafiq Samsodien explains, “The international market’s response to the quality of our content delivery is yet another validation of the innovative steps we are taking to connect and provide global insights and solutions for the challenges facing the creative industries. This year’s event galvanised the industry and reached out to share this spirit across the continent. More than ever, there is now a keen willingness for more open collaboration and dialogue between stakeholders across disciplines and even borders. We will further develop the sustainability of our industry, but also give new opportunities to markets within the MENA region and beyond.”

Adding to this, festival CEO Nazeera Hartley Roach had this to say, “One of our main objectives is to effect meaningful change by creating opportunities for youth from under-served communities, ensuring that transformation and job creation remain top priorities. This was demonstrated in our focused youth programme this year that engaged more than 500 youth from across the Cape Flats and as far as Paarl.”

“Woman in film was another key focus, as gender equality was another key priority for the festival. This was underscored by the many woman filmmakers, jury members and panel speakers who participated in the festival this year. Women took home the majority of the awards in the Works in Progress programme, as well as winning The Writers Guild of South Africa Pitch Competition. The CTIFMF also hosted the launch of the Ladima Foundation’s A-List, South Africa’s largest searchable database of women film industry professionals,” added Roach.

This year’s Cape Town International Film Market and Festival’s Industry Programme, meticulously programmed by market director Elias Ribeiro and his team, saw over 300 industry professionals and experts taking part in four days of intensive discussions and sessions that focused on skills transfer, best practice and intellectual capacity building.

The CTIFMF Market programme included the incredibly important Works in Progress programme, the ENGAGE Audience Development programme, the ADAPT book adaptation programme, as well as the Writers Guild of South Africa’s Screenwriting pitch competition.

One of the key sessions within the Industry Programme was the unique Work Café – a full day devoted to harnessing the collective power of the some of the more exciting emergent national film industries across Africa through a focused discussion where policy makers and experts could develop best practice to move the industry forward.

All of the participants, which included Wesgro, the Dti, the Kenya Film Commission, The Nigeria Film Corporation, the NFVF, and the KZN Film Commission, were aware of the uniqueness and importance of the rare opportunity for so many key African film policymakers to be in one room and that the discussion was only the start of what now must become a Pan-African collaborative effort to bridge the gaps between bureaucracy and practicality, and to create a fertile environment in which developing film industries can flourish.

A major announcement was also made during the festival, the confirmation of IFFR as official partners with the CTIFMF to ensure that the festival will now be part of the on-going annual EAVE programme. Five African and five European producers will be selected to take part in a year long programme where 10 audiovisual projects will be developed through two residential workshops and presented at CTIFMF 2019 and at the 38th CineMart in January 2020.

Other partners and participants of this year’s event included Brand South Africa, The European Film Market/Africa Hub, Cannes Film Festival, The Kenya Film Commission, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Nigerian Film Corporation, The Black Filmmakers Festival, SWIFT, the National Film and Video Foundation, The Dti, The KZN Film Commission, BFI London, Curtis Brown, The Ladima Foundation, Italian Consulate South Africa, Tribeca Film Festival, Electric South, Black Rhino, Flourishing Films, the DFA, The Moving Billboard Picture Company, The Refinery, Hollard Insurance, African News Agency, The Callsheet, European Audio Visual Entrepreneurs (EAVE), Independent Producers Association, The Durban International Film Festival, Ster Kinekor, Nu Metro, The V & A Waterfront, The Comedy Club, Workshop 17, Africa Halal Week, Casarotto Ramsay & Associates and many others.

The immense success of this year’s event has built a solid foundation for 2019, although the increased support of industry and related stakeholders will be essential in order to constructively build on this foundation.

Turner Africa chooses Greenworld Communications

Turner Africa has announced a new partnership with Greenworld Communications in Nigeria. This partnership will offer Greenworld’s clients access to advertising solutions on some of its iconic, high-quality channels operating across the continent: newly launched TNT, Cartoon Network and Boomerang.

“We are extremely excited to work with Turner Africa and its prestigious brands” says Greg Anobili, Vice-President & CEO, Greenworld Communications Limited. This partnership furthers the multi-channel vision of Greenworld, where we can provide advertisers with desirable audiences over multiple platforms. The implication is that we will make it possible to greatly amplify advertising campaigns and brands alike, working closely with the brands to drive better ROI and reach for clients”.

A key driver is definitely Turner’s outstanding reputation for creating premium content and delivering exceptional experiences to fans no matter how they are consuming content, from on-air, on the ground or digital.

The agreement expands the reach of the Greenworld TV sales division into new genres being blockbusters movies (such as the epic I am Legend with Will Smith or the latest Miami Vice) and highly desirable kid’s programming as well as into new audiences across the SEM spectrum. Greenworld offers Turner Africa dedicated television and integrated sales and a back-end team with the experience to produce cost-effective, high-impact advertising, content and sponsorship solutions on the Turner channels.

“Concluding this significant partnership with one of the world’s leading content providers and distributors will strengthen Greenworld’s offering to the market” says Greg Anobili. “Television is an increasingly important part of our strategy and we will now be able to offer our clients a more extensive media buy that delivers diverse content opportunities, audiences and return on investment.”

Guillaume Coffin, VP of sales and Business Development – France and Africa said, “The partnership with Greenworld is an important move move for TURNER’s developments and regional relevance in west Africa. Its expertise and its ability to innovate as well as its event-based advertising know-how convinced us to sign this new partnership. We are convinced that with this new offer we will bring even more value to clients.”

Generation Africa steps into the future

As the African narrative starts to take its place on the global stage, African produced documentaries will be more and more important in cultivating and articulating African voices.

In the past, and even in the current environment however, many of the documentaries that look at Africa are effectively doing just that – looking AT Africa and in many ways objectifying its people.

Regardless of the topic, too often foreign funded and produced documentaries are litanies of grief and victimisation that tend to talk about Africa and Africans, rather than creating spaces and platforms for Africans to share our own stories and speak with our own voices.

Thankfully, this is starting to change, and as I have written about before, African filmmakers are pushing the boundaries of documentary film in ways that bring to life rich characters, and diverse cultures, and through a depth of approach, are able to transcend the negativity and stereotypes even when dealing with painful subjects.

For many years organisations such as STEPS (Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects), a non-profit organisation, passionate about the power of documentaries to disrupt, shift and move the world around us, have been working with, and developing the skills of African filmmakers to enable them to produce exactly these kinds of documentary films.

Through their various workshop and development projects, STEPS works on the production side of the process, and with their AfriDocs free streaming platform, they also push distribution and develop audiences for these films.

One of the topics that STEPS will be focusing on for the next few months is that of migration. Once again, much of the content that currently exists on this issue has been created from a Western perspective that sees the situation quite literally in black and white terms, and cultivates the view that a crisis of epic proportions is taking place as a mass exodus of Africans try to reach Europe.

This content often portrays Africans as homogenous, one dimensional victims of forces out of their own control, masses with little or no agency.

In an attempt to disrupt this dominant narrative, STEPS is currently launching two major initiatives both on the production and distribution fronts. AfriDocs will be presenting six powerful documentaries focused on migration that share a diversity of stories, voices and experiences.

These films will be available to stream from mid-October via the AfriDocs free streaming platform and also will be broadcast in Nigeria, Ghana, Somalia and Ethiopia on free-to-air TV, as well as the LifeTV satellite channel across West Africa.

By making these documentaries available across these multiple platforms, AfriDocs aims to open up the dialogue and re-frame the narrative. The films that will be streamed and broadcast include the following:

My Escape, directed by Elke Sasse, is a film made up from mobile phone footage of migrants or refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea during their escape journeys to Europe, plus interviews after their arrival in Europe.

Revenir is a collaboration between the filmmaker David Fedele and Kumut Imesh, a political refugee from the Ivory Coast, currently living in France. Part road-trip, part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this film follows Kumut as he returns to the African continent and attempts to retrace the same journey that he took more than ten years ago.

Days of Hope, from filmmaker Dittte Haarløv Johnsen, tells three immigrant stories that interlace to offer a portrait of the brave souls who leave Africa for Europe but who always stay connected with home.

When Paul Came Over the Sea follows filmmaker Jakob Preuss as he becomes enmeshed in the life of Paul, who has made his way from his home in Cameroon across the Sahara to the Moroccan coast. When Paul decides to continue on to Germany, Jakob has to make a choice: will he become an active part of Paul’s journey or remain a detached documentary filmmaker?

Those Who Jump from director Moritz Sebert visits northern Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla: Europe on African land. On the mountain above, live more than a thousand hopeful African migrants, watching the fence separating Morocco and Spain.

Aji Bi, Under the Clock Tower, directed by Raja Saddiki, follows the small community of Senegalese women who are living and working in Casablanca, in limbo between “regularisation” in Morocco, or attempting to “cross” to Europe.

As many films on migration (including most of these) are not being produced by Africans, it is clearly imperative to promote and develop opportunities for African filmmakers, and particularly for young Africans who make up the majority of the continent’s population.

To foster this process, STEPS has launched Generation Africa, that, in its own description, “is a documentary film project to produce a new narrative on migration through stories made by African filmmakers”. Whether on the move or at home the spotlight is on this generation of young Africans and how they see their future.

The call for submissions for stories has gone out across Africa with a focus on West (Anglophone and Francophone) and East Africa, but open to all.

The brief to filmmakers is simple, submit story concepts that are original, fresh, authentic, moving and even revolutionary or challenging. It’s through a multitude of young voices that Africa’s stories will be told and that the dominant narrative will be subverted.

Applicants whose stories are selected will have the opportunity to take place in intensive workshops and development. Filmmakers are encouraged to submit up to three stories. All of the relevant information can be found on the STEPS website: http://steps.co.za/

Mobile content platforms: Who is watching the gatekeepers?

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: The exponential rise of mobile-driven (and funded) content platforms is starting to have some interesting, and potentially problematic side-effects in terms of selection (curatorship), censorship and the freedom of creative expression.

As the emergence of short form content as an industry driver becomes more and more clear, producers find themselves in a complex situation in terms of what they produce and how it is distributed.

Social media, and of course YouTube, have been the dominant platforms for sharing and monetising this content over the past decade. Brand and digital agencies have also looked to short form producers to produce impactful content around specific narratives and briefs.

Short form content then could be broken down into two main categories; firstly, creative driven short films are often developed on the hopes of securing a place and accolades at film festivals, going viral on social media or similar platforms and possibly promoting the career of the producer/filmmaker or securing funding for a full feature or TV series.

A second category of commercially driven content has been driven by brands and agencies looking to capitalise on the power and impact of social media. The prevalence of this content has opened up lucrative career paths for many young producers, but ultimately falls within the world of advertising.

The reality for purely creative driven short form producers has been that apart from niche categories at film festivals, and social media sharing, opportunities to drive or monetise their content were slim.

However, as mobile platforms start to become the primary platform for more and more people to watch any kind of video content, creative short form is now taking its place as the most lucrative and essential format on the market.

The massive hunger now being shown particularly by mobile operators for short content however must not only be seen as a positive driver of the industry. While it is true that the opportunities for exposure and monetisation, especially for young African producers, are real, there is a cost to this process.

The biggest area of concern, as I see it, is in terms of selection and curation. For all its ills and algorithms, social media, at least to a certain extent, and in certain countries is somewhat democratic. Commercial content often goes viral due to massive budgets and boosts, but often, quirky and original producer uploaded content manages to go global based purely on word of mouth and sharing.

Mobile content platforms however are heavily curated, moderated and gate-kept. Is anyone asking who exactly within the mobile platforms is selecting the content, on what criteria and for what markets? Clearly its all about expected profit. The content selected by any mobile platform, especially the content promoted within those platforms, is going to be that which is determined to gather the most eyeballs for as long as possible.

The gatekeepers of these mobile content platforms then are often found within the marketing departments – and content is selected often not for any kind of creative originality but rather on projected returns or within very narrow prescriptive norms.

As these platforms become more dominant destinations for content consumption amongst consumers, one has to consider the role of these all-powerful gatekeepers and what it means for the future of creative and perhaps even controversial content. Mobile platforms will inherently shy away from political content, or any content that offends certain governments, think Google in China. So if mobile platforms become the main source of news and information for an entire generation it is essential to look at the impact that this highly curated environment will have on both the viewers and the producers.

Already many bemoan the apparent censorship and narrowcasting of content on social media, but this will be exponentially increased when mobile operators control both the access and the content itself.

Producers will find themselves having to make more of the same – shorter and shorter bits of content aimed to please the most number of viewers without offending or taking any risks. This is the kind of content that will be rewarded financially leading to a process of self-censorship within the industry.

So while we celebrate the income and opportunities that arise from the growth of mobile content platforms – let’s also be mindful of the potential pitfalls in terms of creative, free and fair expression.


Canada selected as guest country for DISCOP Johannesburg 2018

DISCOP, the leading content, adaptation rights and project market dedicated to Africa and the Middle East, has announced that Canada will be the guest country at its Johannesburg edition set to run from 14 to 16 November.

This announcement was made possible thanks to the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the the Department of Arts and Culture of the Republic of South Africa, who have launched a dedicated incentive for the co-development of audiovisual projects between Canadian producers and South African producers.

The total amount of funding available through the incentive is approximately CAD $120,000 or ZAR 1,200,000 with each funding organisation contributing half of the funds.

“In the past 20 years, we’ve seen content produced between Canadian and South African creators hit international markets with great commercial success and critical acclaim. Producers in both countries have partnered to tell stories that are culturally-relevant to audiences in both countries and around the world,” said Valerie Creighton, president and CEO, CMF. “Through our matching fund with the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa, we have further enabled the development of strong partnerships between producers in both countries. As we aim to create yet more partnerships between Canadian and South African producers, we look forward to participating in DISCOP Johannesburg 2018 where Canada will be Guest Country.”

The tribute to Canada will be marked by the presence of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation who will be in Johannesburg to present PANORA.TV, its new B2B online platform facilitating transactions, from searching and shopping, to contract generation, payment processing and content delivery.

Canadian producers and government representatives attending DISCOP Johannesburg 2018, including André Ferreira, communication manager of the CMF, will be hosted at the Made in Canada Pavilion, a networking and communications hub that will provide visibility and market exposure to Canadian delegates.

Two important sessions scheduled in the context of DISCOP’s sidebar NEXT GEN development and knowledge-transfer programme will also examine co-production and distribution opportunities between Canada and South Africa.

1500+ delegates are expected to take part in DISCOP Johannsburg 2018 including 400+ acquisition and development executives representing broadcasters, premium cable channels, mobile operators and streaming platforms operating in Sub-Saharan Africa and 200+ global and regional distributors will also be at the market to showcase their latest offerings and seek new representation deals.

In a move to accelerate the development of a sustainable production and distribution ecosystem across Africa and the Middle East, DISCOP content, adaptation right and project markets are held several times a year in strategic regional industry hubs.


Generation Africa: Filmmakers submit your story now

Generation Africa is a documentary film project aimed at stimulating a new narrative on migration through the stories made by African filmmakers, and particularly young filmmakers.

The project is presented by South Africa-based non-profit Steps (Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) through AfriDocs, the first and only free global streaming platform for African documentaries.

The topic of migration has dominated world news for some time, polarising societies in the West as governments scramble to get a handle on what they view as a dire ‘immigration crisis’. As the ‘crisis’ grows, negative images and portrayals of Africa and Africans are proliferated more and more.

Cumulatively these images contribute to a singular narrative told about African migration without the inclusion of African voices. Therefore, many facts that go untold such as the fact that migration within Africa is higher than from the continent, or that Uganda hosts the third highest number of refugees in the world.

Africa also currently is the continent with the largest population of youth in the world, and is projected to have a population of over 840 million young people by 2050. This could spell a boom of growth for the continent, or escalating challenges, depending on how the continent responds.

Generation Africa is a collaboration with African filmmakers to create documentaries that will shift this narrative on migration, and also give insights into a young generation on the move and making moves.

“We are looking for compelling, nuanced and unpredictable stories that celebrate the achievements of African youth on the continent,” explains STEPS executive producer, Don Edkins. “The focus for the project is East and West Africa as well as the Horn of Africa, but we will consider stories from the entire continent if they are compelling.”

Filmmakers can submit up to three story ideas in the form of a one page synopsis, along with a CV, filmography, and links to previous works. Submissions are invited from filmmakers who have made at least one documentary that has been broadcast or shown at a film festival.

Selected stories will be invited to take part in development workshops in East Africa, and West Africa (Anglophone and Francophone).

Steps is passionate about the power of documentaries to disrupt, shift, and transform the world around us. They work with organisations and individuals around the world to create documentaries on relevant social issues.

Through its streaming platform, AfriDocs, and through a network of organisations that host community based screenings, Steps uses a multi-platform distribution approach to bring documentaries to audiences across Africa.

Generation Africa is presented in partnership with Docubox in Kenya, NAFTI in Ghana and OuagaLab in Burkina Faso. The project is supported by Deutsche Welle Academie, The Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

CTIFMF announces official 2018 selection

The Cape Town International Film Market and Festival (CTIFMF) has announced its official selection including 80 Feature Films, 20 documentaries and 61 short films for the 2018 edition of the festival. Festival screenings are open to the public and will run from 10 to 19 October at various cinemas within the V&A Waterfront, including free family-friendly films at the Amphitheatre.

The programme is a cinematic feast with some 120 world-class films on show to the public, festival delegates, and the jury. The meticulously curated selection include a significant and diverse array of African content amongst the independent feature films, short films and documentaries on show.

Feature films, documentaries, shorts and LGBTQ films have been selected from various countries across Africa including Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Togo, Egypt, DRC, Egypt, South Africa, Niger, Zambia and Tanzania.

The festival’s Opening Night film is South Africa’s official submission to the Oscars, Jahmil X.T Qubeka’s Sew the Winter to My Skin is an epic existential-adventure film that has wowed audiences at Cannes L’Atelier 2017, and had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Set in South Africa’s rural Great-Karoo region in the 1950s, the film chronicles the exploits of the outlaw John Kepe and the various individuals his escapades affected. This Robin-hood-esque figure would steal primarily livestock from the white settler farmers, terrorising them for over a decade. Led by the hardliner General Botha, a mammoth manhunt ensues in the mountain where Kepe was rumoured to occupy a Noah’s Ark like cave.

Kenya is especially well represented by two films; the much celebrated film Rafiki from the multi-award winning director Kanuri Kahiu, along with the beautifully moving Supa Modo, directed by Likarion Wainaina.

Rafiki (“Friend”) was inspired by Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko‘s 2007 Caine Prize Winning short story Jambula Tree; Rafiki is the story of friendship and tender love that grows between two young women, Kena and Ziki, amidst family and political pressures. The film had its international premiere in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Supa Modo tells the story of a young girl whose dream of becoming a superhero is threatened by terminal illness, inspiring her village to rally together to make her dream come true. This uplifting debut film from Likarion Wainana has won seven awards in various international film festivals.

Tanzania’s award-winning director Amil Shivji’s film T-Junction is a poignant tale of Fatima who makes an unlikely friend at a hospital, Maria. Bound by pain, Fatima keeps coming back to hear Maria’s tale of the T-junction where she found love and loss in a ragtag community.

Ghana’s entry into this year’s festival is Peter Sedufia’s film, Keteke that tells a story focused on the 1980s rail service system in Ghana. A couple living in Puna, is bent on delivering their first baby in their home town Akete – but they miss the train, what will happen?

I am not a Witch is set in Zambia, the birthplace of writer-director Rungano Nyoni, and revolves around a 9-year-old girl, Shula who is accused of witchcraft.

Amongst the 10 South African feature films in competition is Captive (Ko nkanga), from director David Kabale that tells the story of an immigrant woman, who after moving into her aunt’s house, experiences sexual abuse at the hands of her in laws. She must now make a choice of whether to submit or fight. Joseph Jones Umba’s Epiphany is a thoroughly modern story. After a clerical insemination error, an acquiescent woman must choose between her conservative husband and a child that has eluded her for so long.

Included in the selection is also a strong contingent of women filmmakers, including the world premiere event for the film Cut Out Girls, a Cape Town-made South African film from director, Nicola Hanekom that is is loosely based on her award-winning stage play that deals with the uneasy subject of date rape. The Wedding Ring from Niger is Rahmatou Keïta’s second feature film and slowly reveals itself as a story of female empowerment that also doesn’t shirk from the uncomfortable realities of Western influence on African cultures.

Florence Ayisi’s  latest documentary Marie Madeleine: A Female Chief from Cameroon tells the story of the repercussions that take place when a woman is enthroned as chief in a small village in Cameroon.

Other African documentaries being screened include award-winning South African director Rehad Desai’s, Everything Must Fall. The film is an unflinching look at the #FeesMustFall student movement that burst onto the South African political landscape in 2015 as a protest over the cost of education. Having its world premiere at the CTIFMF will be another South African documentary, Hear My Music- the Dizu Plaatjies Story from director Ron Stuart. The documentary tells the story of local musical hero, Dizu Plaatjies, the scholar and cultural activist who has devoted his adult life to indigenous African music. Whispering Truth to Power, from filmmaker and human rights lawyer Shameela Seedat, tracks Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s first female Public Protector, as she builds her second case against the country’s President, Jacob Zuma. This is documentary filmmaking at its most relevant and powerful.

Kinshasa Makambo by Dieudo Hamadi from the DRC as well as the award-winning New Moon from Kenyan filmmaker Philipa Ndisi-Herrmann, are also amongst the selection.

Once again, the CTIFMF is proud to present a series of films focused on LGBTQ stories from around the world. This diverse selection of films speak to the diversity of experiences from within the LGBTQ community and yet also resonate strongly with universal themes of love, acceptance, and self-discovery. The South African premiere of the film Kanarie will take place on 10 October. The film, directed by Christiaan Olwagen and starring Schalk Bezuidenhout has won numerous awards.

Set in South Africa in 1985 against a backdrop of apartheid, religion and war; Kanarie follows a teen boy, Johan Niemand, who has always been bullied in his small town for his flair for British new wave music and love of Boy George. After he gets called on by the military and auditions for the Kanaries (the South African Defence Force Church Choir and Concert Group), he believes the choir will be his ticket out of fighting the war, but he begins to see the role he plays in the oppression and injustice around him.

The Nigerian/UK co-production Walking with Shadows will have its world premiere at the CTIFMF and is based on the novel by Nigerian author Jude Dibia, the film tells the story of a man who has to come to terms with his dark secret and choose between keeping his family or accepting a life of possible loneliness and rejection.

Within the 61 short films in selection are 17 South African films as well as films from Zimbabwe (Give a Man a Mask and He will Tell You the Truth), Togo, (ViZa), and Egypt, (Red Velvet and Major Tom).

South African shorts include award-winning director Reabetswe Moeti’s Mma Moeketsi that stars Keketso Semoko known for her role as Ma Agnes on Isidingo. She is a domestic worker from rural Lesotho working for a suburban family in Johannesburg. Her son, Moeketsi, is an illegal miner at the North West mine. In the wake of the wage strike, Moeketsi’s phone is off and he is nowhere to be found.

Fatima is a short from a South African director (Imran Hamduly), that tells the story of a young woman who defies her family’s wish to enter into an arranged marriage and suffers a tragic consequence thereof. Masqerading: To Hell and Back is Sofia de Fay’s bittersweet tale of a letter written by a 58 year old Cape Coloured drag queen Sandra Dee, to her best friend, Samantha Fox celebrating their complicated 30-year friendship. The letter takes us on a funny and poignant journey through their shared memories.

Another notable film is Cast Iron Can’t Be Welded, a short set in rural South Africa during the 1970’s and directed by Buks Rossouw. A farmer transporting a broken cast iron stove learns something about humanity from a hitchhiking schoolboy – but only after dropping him off.

This year’s official video can be seen here. For a full list and information on all the feature films that will be screening at this year’s CTIFMF, visit the website.

The Cape Town International Film Market and Festival is proudly hosted by the City of Cape Town.

The Cape Town International Film Market & Festival 2018 industry programme

The 2018 edition of the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival (CTIFMF) will take place from 9 to 19 October 2018 at venues across the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town.

For this year’s Industry Programme, the CTIFMF has made a concerted effort to focus on outcome driven programmes with tangible results that will benefit both emerging and experienced filmmakers and industry professionals.

The 4-day programme offers an array of skills development master-classes, highly informative panel discussions, and intense and engaging networking opportunities. With an eye to the CTIFMF’s themes of CREATE, COLLABORATE, CELEBRATE, the industry program is a truly inclusive offering that proudly celebrates the diversity of the South African and African film industries whilst also focusing on the importance of global cooperation and collaboration.

The various sessions include experts from the South African context, from across Africa with strong representation from Kenya and Nigeria, and from further afield, industry talent from Brazil, Canada (TIFF), the UK, Germany (Berlinale), France (Cannes), and the USA.

Highlights of the four days include panel discussions on topical and relevant issues such as the importance of emerging technologies within the industry. An exhibition space for audience to experience VR at its best will also be on display at the EXPO.

A comprehensive session on VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), as well as the importance of crypto currencies and blockchain, will include experts Brian Afande, (Black Rhino VR Kenya) Ingrid Kopp (Electric South), Toni Caradonna, (Ethereum Movie Venture), and Karl Carter, (Snake Nation, USA). Toni will also present a separate Masterclass focusing on block chain and cryptos for Dummies.

Within the focus on tech and digital, there is also a look at web-series with case studies that will include producers in this space such as, Dorothee Wenner – Kinshasa Collection and Kelly-Eve Koopman – Coloured Mentality.

With a strong emphasis on diversity as well as the importance of the space that African content occupies globally, the CTIFMF will also present a range of highly topical panel discussions.  A key session on diversity will be presented by Flourishing Films’ Themba Bhebhe.

Additionally, Africa is in the spotlight in a number of sessions including Positioning Africa, the Opening Assembly of the Industry Program that will include both African filmmakers as well as top international gate keepers. These experts will have a frank and open discussion on the way that Africa and African content is currently positioned. The panel will include Remi Bonhomme from Marrakesh and Cannes Semaine de la Critique, Andrew Orgel – Quality of Life Media, USA, Cara Causmano –  Tribeca Film Festival, and filmmakers Zamo Makwenze, Amira Tajdin, and Phillipa Ndisi Herrmann.

The Ladima Foundation will also focus on the importance of Pan-African networks specifically for women in the industry with their panel discussion.  A range of influential women from the industry from across Africa will take part, including Mildred Okwo, a producer/director from Nigeria, from Kenya, Phillipa Ndisi Herrmann and Catherine Gitahi of the Kenya Film Commission, as well as international filmmaker Tessa Boerman.

The book adaption programme, ADAPT, will also present two sessions open to badge holders that will focus on the journey from Book to Screen, and these will be presented by Selina Ukwuoma, Selina is a freelance script consultant who began her career at literary agency Curtis Brown working on a number of adaptations including 2008 BAFTA winner BOY A. She has since gone on to advise on award-winning indie films such as 2014 Teddy winner THE WAY HE LOOKS and this year’s Goyas triumph SUMMER 1993, both Foreign Language Oscars entries from their respective countries.

Various other sessions such as the Meet the Makers series will provide various perspectives and “behind-the-scenes” insights into iconic and successful African films. These sessions will cover themes such as Performance, Visual Style, Lo-Fi, Children Content, Documentaries and Local / Global Success.

CTIFMF market director Elias Ribeiro sums up the industry programme this way, “We are incredibly excited by the support and enthusiasm we have had from the dozens of experts and professionals who have committed to taking part in this programme. They all share our collaborative vision that is based on creating real value and tangible outcomes for all participants. We urge everyone with an interest in the growth of the South African and African film industries to take part in these events and reap the real rewards that will come from these informative sessions and truly remarkable networking opportunities.”


CTIFM&F announces opening night film: Sew the Winter to My Skin

The Cape Town International Film Market and Festival is proud to announce the official opening night film that will be screened at the Artscape Theatre on 9 October 2018.

Jahmil X.T Qubeka’s Sew the Winter to My Skin, is an epic existential-adventure film that has wowed audiences at Cannes L’Atelier 2017, and will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this week followed by it’s European premiere at the The BFI Festival in London and the Busan International Film Festival in Asia.

Set in South Africa’s rural Great-Karoo region in the 1950s, the film chronicles the exploits of the outlaw John Kepe and the various individuals his escapades affected. This Robin-hood-esque figure would steal primarily livestock from the white settler farmers, terrorizing them for over a decade. Led by the hardliner General Botha, a mammoth manhunt ensues in the mountain where Kepe was rumored to occupy a Noah’s Ark like cave. This spectacle ingratiated Kepe in the hearts of the marginalized indigenous-population who turn Kepe’s miscreant deeds into the stuff of legend making him a threat to the very fabric of the colonial society.

Director Jahmil X.T Qubeka says this of the making of the film and its selection as the CTIFMF’s opening night film, “It is my intention with projects like this to explore and to dissect the impact of the apartheid experience on the psychology of self. The very roots of external struggles such as land redistribution are inherently imbedded in an internal meditation or yearning. Dignity seems to be the pursued pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. I wanted to offer some insight into what I believe to be mankind’s inherent need to feed into mythologies that conveniently suit the order of the day. With this film, I am endeavouring to create a visual experience that crosses the boundaries and limitations of spoken language.”

Qubeka added, “I am honoured to have Sew the Winter to my Skin invited as the opening film for the Cape Town International Film Festival, it is important for us to bring the film to its intended audience and celebrate South African cinema.”

The film’s producer Layla Swart, who hails from Cape Town and studied film at The University of Cape Town, elaborates further, “Sew the Winter to my Skin is an epic ballad to the art of visual storytelling and is a benchmark film in the tapestry of South African cinema. Selected in 2017 for the prestigious Cannes L’Atelier programme, the film was also awarded the Berlinale World Cinema Fund 2017 and has garnered incredible responses at screenplay level alone. I believe that films like Sew the Winter to my Skin not only contribute to a universally accessible understanding of African storytelling, but raise the benchmark for the young South African directors who are emerging with a burning desire to canonise their experience, their heroes, their legacy. We are indeed very excited to share this film with the audience at the Cape Town International Film Festival.”

CTIFMF marketing director Jehad Kasu also has this to say of the selection, “Having access to this level of quality South African filmmaking that conveys a local story as an opening night film, is half of the reason why the CTIFMF exists – to exhibit the excellence in local story telling and production. The other half is to create an enabling film business environment for this kind of content to reach as many other parts of the world as possible.”

“This second objective has the dual benefit of educating/entertaining global audiences with African cultures, traditions and daily life, while simultaneously boosting the economic growth of the local film and television industry.”

“We also congratulate the whole team, including Layla and every other woman blazing a blinding trail of success in this industry. In years to come we look forward to the problem where our programmers have the difficulty in selecting an opening night film from an array of world-class local productions – that are later snapped up by foreign sales and distribution companies.”

See the official film trailer HERE.

Tickets to this glamorous red carpet event at Artscape are available to the public and can be purchased here.

From 10 to 19 October, 80 feature films, 20 documentaries and 66 short films will be screened at various venues at the V & A Waterfront. Full schedules and ticketing information can be found  on the CTIFM&F website.

The Cape Town International Film Market and Festival is proudly hosted by the City of Cape Town.

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