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National Film and Video Foundation Press

National Film and Video Foundation Press
The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture that was created to ensure the equitable growth of South Africa's film and video industry.

7th Ugu Film Festival to focus on strides made by female filmmakers

The Ugu Film Festival, hosted by Sollywood Films in partnership with The National Film and Video Foundation, and Ugu South Coast Tourism, is back with a bigger and better programme which will run from 24 – 26 January 2020 at the Margate Hotel in Port Shepstone. The festival’s prominent community outreach feature will be held at Izingolweni – also in the South Coast. The only event of its kind in the district, the festival provides a vital local film development platform giving aspirant and up and coming filmmakers an opportunity to not only gain expert insight and exposure on the value chain of the industry, but also a chance to showcase their craft to potential investors, film enthusiasts and media.

Opening on 24 January with a special screening of the South African film Uncovered, directed by Zuko Nodada, the 7th edition of the Ugu Film Festival will feature a special focus on female filmmakers dubbed ‘Through the Lenses of South African Women’.

Uncovered is a film about young, driven, intelligent Aluta Ndlovu whose ambition to become CEO of a mining company (Shift Inc) clouds her judgment when her journalist sister Pumla Ndlovu informs her about possible corruption. Out of the blue, Frank Drake (Aluta’s boss) wants to sell a worthless mine to the people of Somkhele Village. It is only when Phumla dies that Aluta sees through Frank and figures out what he is up to which drives her to vengeance, not only for her sister’s death but also her people and her own life.

The festival’s headliner will be Durban filmmaker Claire Angelique’s second feature film Palace of Bone. Angelique won the award for Young Artist of the Year (Film) for her feature debut My Black Little Heart at the National Arts Festival in 2010. With her prize money she financed this micro budget thriller about a girl who goes on a killing spree of all those who did her wrong. The film premiered at the 2011 National Arts Festival where eminent art critic Mary Corrigall selected the film as number 3 in her cultural highlights of the year.

 “I am very excited by the support the festival continues to receive from its partners, particularly the National Film and Video Foundation and Ugu South Coast Tourism. Through such backing we can continue with our objective which is to empower both the youth and female filmmakers from our disadvantaged communities, opening the doors needed for them to successfully pursue their careers,” says Senzo Zindela, founder and executive director of the Ugu Film Festival.

Local economy and tourism development

The event has become a significant contributor to the development of the local economy and tourism sector as the South Coast, known as KwaZulu-Natal’s paradise, is a firm favourite among tourists and with the emergence of the local film industry, is well on its way to becoming a sought after film destination as international crews continue to take a keen interest in the district.

“We are very excited that the KZN South Coast will set the stage for the 7th edition of the Ugu Film Festival – one of our flagship tourism events,” said CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu. “The area is fast becoming a key destination for both local and international feature films and wildlife documentaries, benefitting those in the industry as well as our local tourism establishments. The 2020 festival boasts an impressive line-up and we are looking forward to another fantastic KZN South Coast event.”

Besides the plethora of films, aspiring filmmakers and participants can look forward to engaging and gaining skills from amongst others award-winning South African actor Menzi Ngubane (Kwakhala Nyonini, Generations, Isibaya), international star Simon Kook, Peter Pham from Vietnam, Patrick Garcia from Act Films and Gavin Potter (film music scorer). The communities based in the surrounding areas will be offered opportunities to learn about filmmaking, furthermore enjoy the films that have been scheduled to screen through the Outreach Programme the festival has planned.

For the full festival schedule, visit the festival website.

Entries now open for the 14th annual South African Film and Television Awards

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture, the custodians of the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) recently announced the call for local production companies to submit their entries for the 14th annual SAFTAs.

The announcement was made at the recent NFVF Media Day which took place at the Capital Empire Hotel in Sandton on 15 October.

Established in 2006, the primary objective of the South African Film and Television Awards is to honour, celebrate, promote and reward the creativity, quality, and excellence of South African Film and Television talent and content, and to encourage entrepreneurship and the development of new talent within the industry.

NFVF CEO Makhosazana Khanyile, who was the keynote speaker at the NFVF Media Day, highlighted key changes in the entry guidelines. These include:

•             Any entry that does not follow the entry requirements which results in a dispute will be automatically disqualified.

•             Programmes that are self-commissioned and self-published shall not be eligible.

•             Eligible screenings now include streaming.

•             Content exhibited via subscription-based streaming services (S-VOD, subscription video on demand) in South Africa (e.g. Netflix, Showmax) for the first time between 1 November 2018 and 31 October 2019 are eligible for entry.

•             New Category: Entertainment Programme. This category includes quizzes, game shows, talent shows, music shows, music specials, and all general entertainment.

•             Reality Show has been separated into 2 categories

  • Best Competition Reality Show Award: Awarded to the producer(s) for outstanding achievement in the production and overall success of any programme communicating “real life” situations with a competition element for entertainment purposes, by means of setting out challenges or activities.
  • Best Structured or Docu-reality Show Award: Awarded to the producer(s) for outstanding achievement in the production and overall success of any programme communicating “real life” or “life situations” such as the daily activities of a celebrity or resolving issues of ordinary people for entertainment purposes.

•             Best Variety Show now includes comedy and talk show.

•             Best Wildlife Documentary has been renamed to Natural History and Environmental Programme. There is a craft award at the discretion of the jury for this category.

Submissions will close on Friday, 15 November 2019 at 17h00.

The 14th edition of the SAFTAs will take place in March 2020

For more information visit the NFVF website.

Buddha in Africa provides a unique perspective on Chinese soft power in Africa


Set in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Malawi – against the backdrop of China’s increasing influence on the African continent – Buddha in Africa documents Malawian teenager Enock Alu’s journey and the inner battle he faces as he is torn between the contrasting worlds of his traditional African culture and the Buddhist value system that he was raised within.

Through Enock’s journey and the orphanage he calls home, the film provides a unique perspective on Chinese “soft power” in Africa today. “I was actually living in Malawi when I first came across this story of the Chinese Buddhist orphanage. I had been working as a freelance video journalist producing video features for Reuters Pan-African magazine programme Africa Journal and this was the last story I did before returning to South Africa,” comments director Nicole Schafer. “I was working on a story about orphans at the time that Madonna was adopting her second child.”

China in Africa                                 

At the same time Malawi and other parts of Africa were experiencing a rapid influx of Chinese investment and Chinese nationals – following the formalising of Malawi’s diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. Schafer says that she felt this story would be a fascinating lens through which to view and engage in the debates around the implications of China’s involvement in Africa.

“While most debates around ‘China in Africa’ at the time was focused on the so-called ‘colonisation’ of her economies and natural resources, this story showed a unique aspect of China’s cultural influence on the continent. I was struck by how this orphanage was strangely reminiscent of the Christian missions during the colonial era – only here African children had Chinese names and instead of learning about the West, they were learning about Chinese culture and history. I felt the orphanage would be the perfect metaphor to explore the growing relationship between China and Africa, but also as a mirror of Western colonialism.”

The Amitofo Care Centre

At the Amitofo Care Centre (ACC), where Buddha in Africa is shot, Malawian children are given Chinese names and taught to read and write Mandarin. There, these children wake up at 04:30 am to pray inside a Buddhist temple and they are masters of the art of Shaolin Kung Fu at a young age.

Our guide into the world of the Buddhist orphanage is Enock Alu – one of 300 children growing up at ACC. At the age of seven Alu was one of the first children to be recruited from his village and offered a place at ACC, when founder Master Hui Li – a Buddhist monk from Taiwan – opened it in 2003. At the time, Enock was living under the care of his grandmother after his mother passed away and his father had left and re-married another woman. While in his final year of school, Alu is torn between trying to hold onto his Malawian roots and the opportunities afforded to him by his Chinese upbringing.

“The first time I met Enock was when I was doing a short video feature and I asked them to identify one or two of the kids who I could profile and so they introduced me to Enock, who was one of the star performers and the top of his Kung Fu class. He was only 12 years old at the time, he was fluent in Mandarin, and I was captivated by the story of this young Malawian boy with dreams of becoming a Kung Fu film star like Jet Li,” explains Schafer.

Two Contrasting Worlds

About a year and a half after first meeting the young boy, Schafer returned to the ACC to start development on the film, and wanted to know more about how Alu and his friends were making sense of themselves between two very contrasting worlds: “I was surprised to learn that Enock knew very little about his personal history. He had never even seen a photograph of his parents before,” says Schafer, “and so the first part of filming very much involved initiating a process of reflection into his past… I always imagined that at some point some form of conflict would present itself between these two very different cultures and worlds Enock inhabited. And so I was very much focused on observing his shifting relationship between his community in the village, on the one hand, and his new Chinese family, on the other.”

Additionally, Schafer says that she was also interested in capturing the boy’s experience of feeling like an outsider in terms of his longing to belong to his village community as well as the challenge of fitting into Chinese culture – “and then the realisation that comes towards the end of the film that he will never completely belong to either of these worlds.”


Buddha in Africa was shot sporadically over a period of five years, with Schafer travelling to Malawi for two to three weeks at a time as she acquired funding. “Most of the footage used in the film was shot in the final year when I had more resources to shoot on my camera of choice and by then I had established a solid relationship with all the characters in the film,” she comments.

The film was financed predominantly through ‘soft funds’ from various local and international film grants, with development funding coming from The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), IDFA Bertha and Hot Docs Blue Ice Funding. Production funding again came from the NFVF, IDFA Bertha and Hot Docs Blue Ice Funding, as well as Chicken and Egg Pictures, the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, the Alter Cine Foundation and AfriDocs. “It took seven years to secure all the funding from when I first pitched the film at the Durban FilmMart in 2011,” Schafer says.


Due to budget constraints, Buddha in Africa was shot on several different cameras, depending on the available budget at the time of shooting. “It was only in my final year that I was able to afford the Canon 5D Mark III, which was ideal for the low light conditions I was working in,” comments Schafer, who paired the camera with a combination of lenses – a 50mm prime, a 17-40mm wide and a zoom lens. “I also had my old video camera that I used for sound and could capture the radio mic feed on one channel and the rifle mic or, when I had a sound assistant, the boom, into the other. It was quite cumbersome spending 12-18 hour days with all these cameras, lenses and mics, but I got the hang of it. Well, I had no choice really!” Schafer adds.


Editing on the film was done by Schafer with the help of a team of assistant editors “and some input from editor Catherine Meyburgh, up to the rough-cut stage,” she says. “That took about three years after filming ended completely. At this point, I was able to secure the interest of a Swedish producer from Momento Film who came on-board as a co-producer to support the final stages of post-production. This enabled me to work with two very good international editors who refined the story and turned our rough-cut into a film.”

The final colour grade and online was done by The Monk and Priest Post in Cape Town: “This was an award that I received through the Cape Town International Film Festival Works-in-progress pitch. Without this, we would still not have a finished film,” comments Schafer.

Festivals and Awards

The film had its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary film festival in April, and opened the Encounters Documentary Festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg in June, where it received a Backsberg Encounters Audience Award. It was also in the official selection at this year’s Sydney International Film Festival in June.

Excitingly, Buddha in Africa was awarded the coveted Best SA Documentary award at the recent Durban International Film Festival, which means the film automatically qualifies for Oscar consideration. “The journey of making and completing a documentary can be a long and challenging process and it is very meaningful to have this affirmation and recognition here, at home, at the Durban International Film Festival, where we first pitched the project several years ago,” comments Schafer. “With regards to the Oscar consideration – we are thrilled and immensely grateful to have the opportunity to be considered for an Oscar nomination.”

Still to come, the film will have its European premiere in the Official Competition at the Visioni dal Mondo, Immagini dalla Realtà International Documentary Festival in Milan and the Afrika Film Festival in Belgium in September. In October Buddha in Africa will open the Afrika Filmdays Festival in Munich, followed by the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival in Florence. “There are several more local and international festivals pending for the rest of the year,” adds Schafer.

Buddha in Africa is an international co-production with Momento Films in Sweden. Paris-based sales company CAT and Docs is representing the film internationally, while AfriDocs is the African broadcast partner. Additionally, the documentary has already sold to several territories and been broadcast on NHK in Japan and ARTE in France and Germany.

Buddha in Africa will be broadcast on AfriDocs, the free-to-view VOD platform and broadcast documentary strand, across Africa in December.

21 filmmakers chosen for the 10th annual CaribbeanTales Market Incubator

CaribbeanTales recently announced the 21 filmmakers that will take part in the Tenth Annual CaribbeanTales Market Incubator (CTI) in partnership with The Caribbean Development BankOntario Creates and Telefilm Canada, and with support from the National Film & Video Foundation of South Africa.  At the annual Big Pitch, they will compete for prizes that will include an award of $10,000 for Best Caribbean Project.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, CTI is a development and production hub for international producers. It aims to increase the volume of compelling world-class content from the Caribbean Region and from the world. This year’s filmmakers come from Canada, Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Belize, Haiti, and South Africa. Sixty percent of the selected filmmakers are female creators and all are producers of colour.

Frances-Anne Solomon, CaribbeanTales’ CEO said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating our tenth year of bringing compelling projects from some of the most talented producers in our wide Diaspora to the international market — enabling these filmmakers to find partners and funding, and to connect with, and be seen by, audiences worldwide. This year we are focused on forging international relationships and co-productions. I am looking forward to building on this important milestone in our growth, to create sustainable co-ventures between Canada the Caribbean, and the world.” After receiving a record-breaking number of applications, projects were assessed by a team of industry professionals. From these, eleven (11) projects were selected, that range across romance, drama, thriller and speculative fiction.   

Haitian film star and producer Jimmy Jean-Louis brings his feature psychological thriller steeped in Haitian folklore, Mother Water.  Jamaican cinematographer and director Gabrielle Blackwood’s Kendal is a coming-of-age period drama, set in 1950’s colonial Jamaica. From Trinidad and Tobago, Teneille Newallo and Stephen Hadeed’s Soucouyant is a supernatural Amerindian thriller, set in the time of Christopher Columbus. Canadian director Reem Morsi’s Fish  is a speculative fiction television series  that delves into the dark side of greed, betrayal and monsters; while Sylvia Vollenhoven’s feature drama Buckingham Palace tells the story of District Six, a Capetown slum in the 1960’s –and what happens when the bulldozers come. And from Cuba, Rosa Maria Rodriguez brings her horror feature Nara, that tells the tale of two sickly siblings confined at home, who succumb to their darker natures. 

For a  full list of the projects  and the participants please visit
the CTI website. 

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.

NFVF announces South African films in ZIFF 2019 official selection

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) will be leading a delegation of South African filmmakers to the 22nd edition of the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF).

ZIFF is East Africa’s largest film and arts festival, and provides an important platform to profile Africa’s burgeoning film industry. The NFVF has formalised a relationship with ZIFF, through the signing of an MoU which will focus on training and development opportunities for young filmmakers as well as identifying co-production opportunities. As part of the partnership, the NFVF will also be hosting the South African pavilion and launching the first-ever student mentorship programme where six South African students will participate in a short film competition alongside Tanzania and Saudia Arabia. The programme is a skills exchange initiative which is meant to develop scriptwriting and production skills.

The 11 South African films in the ZIFF 2019 Official Selection:

• Deep End
• Someone to Blame – the Ahmed Timol Inquest
• Coming Home
• Our Albertina
• The Moon Falls Unconscious
• Whispering Truth to Power
• Not in My Neighbourhood
• Five Fingers for Marseilles
• Burkinabè Bounty: Agroecology in Burkina Faso
• Please Frog, just one sip!
• My Country

“The NFVF-ZIFF partnership will allow us the opportunity to grow our relationship with the festival as we continue on our quest to create more skills exchange and development
opportunities for South African filmmakers internationally. I particularly look forward to seeing what our students can produce and wish the films in competition the best of luck,” said Makhosazana Khanyile, CEO of the NFVF.

French and South African partners collaborate to support South African animation industry

South African startup innovation hub, the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) strengthened their ties with international partners by signing official partnership agreements at the recent 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. The agreements are with Paris-based animation school, Gobelins, and the French Embassy in South Africa.

The objective of both of the agreements is to grow the animation industry’s skills pipeline by offering training, internships and scholarships to animators in Africa. It also presents the opportunity to enhance the linkages between African animation talent, producers, schools and institutions with their French counterparts.

Earlier this year, the Precinct’s Johannesburg-based Tshimologong Animation Studio opened its doors to 20 interns with hopes to further their understanding of visual development for high-end animation under the direction of recent Gobelins Masters graduate, Lesego Vorster. Co-designed in collaboration with Gobelins, the internship programme is focused on establishing authentic African aesthetics through appropriate referencing and understanding of design and storytelling fundamentals. Furthermore, the internship forms part of an active role in empowering black youth in a field which was previously relatively inaccessible to them.

The Tshimologong Animation Studio is strategically positioned as being between a finishing school and an internship. This gives interns first-hand experience on real-world projects, while still having the comfort of being able to use university methodology to strengthen their references as well as their workflow.

“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,” says Lesego Vorster, Tshimologong Animation Studio art director.

“South Africa is a vibrant soil of young creativity. Talents are numerous, young and passionate, promise of a very bright future and the emergence of a powerful African animation,” says Cécile Blondel, head of International Relations, Gobelins.

The agreement with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the French Embassy in South Africa addresses training needs, scholarships, skills exchange and co-production opportunities. The NFVF will contribute up to EUR16,000 (R268 000) for a scholarship for the Gobelins “Character Animation and animated filmmaking – Master of Arts” qualification. The Animation School (SA) and Campus France will also fund this scholarship. Gobelins, NFVF, the French Institute of South Africa, the Animation School and Campus France have awarded this scholarship to Karien Benz.

By joining forces, the two organisations aim to strengthen their support for the South African film and TV industry and to foster better cooperation between South African and French ecosystems in film, TV and new formats. The animation industry, because of its dynamism, creativity and international appeal both in France and in South Africa, is at the core of this new partnership. Both institutions aim to support and reinforce synergies between the respective markets and to promote consistency in the support of their development.

“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, that we have partnered to create a scholarship with Gobelins. I look forward to a beneficial partnership that will see a significant step towards the further growth of the animation sector in South Africa” says Joy Mawela, head of Industry Development & Promotions (National Film and Video Foundation).

“As South Africa’s potential in the field of animation is undeniable, especially in the development and production of original content rooted in a strong Africanisation of imagery, we see the enhancement of our cooperation with NFVF as a great opportunity to expand opportunities for creators, to promote prolific cooperation, and to bring our two markets closer together using the complementarity of their assets,” says Erika Denis, regional head of Media, Film & Music (French Embassy/French Institute in South Africa).

Tshimologong’s Digital Lab Africa programme supports emerging talent in animation

Managed by Tshimologong, Digital Lab Africa is the first pan-African acceleration programme dedicated to creative content (animation, immersive content, gaming, music and web creation). As part of their mentorship programme, three DLA mentees are attending the Annecy Animation Festival: South African animator Lwazi Msipha (Project: Ringa Mzansi) and Kenyan animators Naddya Adhiambo (Project: Uzi) and Justus Macharia (Project: Baba).

“Annecy is a unique opportunity for DLA mentees to be immersed in the animation international ecosystem and meet top animation industry players. Also, partnering with the NFVF and the French embassy in South Africa in signing an agreement of this nature with the top animation school in the world, Gobelins, guarantees the quality of work our graduates will be producing” says Lesley Donna Williams, CEO of Tshimologong Precinct and Director of DLA programme.

DLA mentees also have the opportunity to interact with their French and South African  mentors as they are all attending the festival: Stuart Forrest (Triggerfish Animation, SA), Lesego Vorster (Tshimologong Precinct), Isaac Mogajane (Diprente Film), Marie-Anne Fontenier (Nef Animation) and Eric Réginaud (Ciclic Animation).

Talents Durban announces 2019 participants

The 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) and Durban FilmMart (DFM) recently announced the participants of the 12th edition of Talents Durban, within the official DIFF/DFM programme.

Talents Durban is a five-day development programme presented in cooperation with Berlinale Talents, an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival, made up of workshops and seminars for African filmmakers, delivered by film industry professionals and academics.

After a rigorous selection process, 15 filmmakers and 3 film critics from 12 countries across the continent made the final cut, which consists of 3 features, 3 TV/web series, 3 animation, 3 documentaries, 3 shorts films, and 3 film critics:

In addition to these 18 Talents, a 2018 alumnus Talents award-winner, Aliki Saragas-Georgio will pitch her project When Shadows Move along with 20 other projects at the Durban FilmMart Finance Forum. Aliki is co-producer with Jacqui-lee Katz and Bridget Pickering and co-director with Jacqui-lee Katz.

Official 2019 Talents Durban Participants & Projects

Feature Selection:

Spirit (South Africa) Director: Vusiafrica Sindane

Black Widow (Rwanda) Director: Shema Deve

No Country For Little Girls’ Tantrums (Uganda) Director: Patience Nitumwesiga


Shorts Selection:

Heart Attack (South Africa) Screenwriter: Minenhle Luthuli

Strong Girls (Tunisia) Director: Inès Arsi

Organized Crime (Zimbabwe) Director: Derby Bheta


Documentary Selection:

And Who Will Cook? (Cape Verde) Director: Samira Pinto

The Sweet Cursed Dance (Rwanda) Director: Sibomana Alexandre

Twelve Pangas (South Africa) Director: Xola Mteto


Animation Selection:

The Mystery of Waza (Cameroon) Animation Director: Claye Edou

Box Cutters (South Africa) Animation Director: Naomi van Niekerk

The Course (Le Parcours) (Benin) Animation Director: Odilon Assou


TV & Web Series Selection:

Outfoxed (South Africa) Screenwriter: Jabulile Nadia Newman

Mau Mau (Kenya) Screenwriter: Damaris Irungu

Mami Wata (Gabon) Screenwriter: Samantha Biffot


Talent Press Selection:

Nkululeko Zilibokwe (South Africa) Talent Press

Jeoffrey Mukubi (Namibia) Talent Press

Kayode Faniyi (Nigeria) Talent Press


“The 12th edition is presented under the theme of “A Journey to Authenticity” inspired by the present moment in African cinema,” explains Menzi Mhlongo, Talents Durban co-ordinator. “Following a global renaissance of African cinema and television content, the demand for stories from the continent is rising. African storytellers and audiences seeking to connect with African cinema also have to grapple with the question of what is ‘authentic’ African cinema. For the filmmaker this question has a far more inward dimension as well – before the auteur can offer the answer to this question they have to ask the question of themselves – what is authentic to me? With a four day programme of masterclasses, mentorship and networking on offer, we are looking for the best voices in African cinema- storytellers who represent the future of what it means to have an ‘Authentic Voice’ – to join this pertinent conversation.”

Participants will interact with over 600 delegates from the DIFF and Durban FilmMart, the co-production and finance forum, which takes place from 19-22 July during the festival. The Talents will also get to be part of several project-oriented, hands-on skills development programmes. Practical development programmes within Talents Durban include Story Junction, masterclasses, and one-on-one mentorships.

Story Junction is a platform showcasing projects linked to the festival. Talents will present their project at Story Junction to peers and industry delegates. Delegates will be able to request meetings with participants whose projects they wish to engage with further.

Each of the Talents will receive a mentor for an intensive programme of one-on-one consultation, and the entire group will engage in project and strategy development workshops. The mentors selected are experts in their respective fields (e.g. documentary, fiction, drama series, web, mobile content, TV and animation) that suit the needs of the participants and their projects.

In collaboration with the Durban FilmMart, Talents will have access to the inaugural Durban Does Docs conference, the Locations Africa Exhibition, a programme on women-led film hosted by Sisters Working in Film and Television (SWIFT), and a selection of masterclasses, seminars, workshops, labs and networking opportunities for filmmakers.

Talents Durban is one of 7 Talents International Programmes formed by Berlinale Talents in Africa and around the world including Talents Beirut in Lebanon, Talents Buenos Aires in Argentina, Talents Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Talents Tokyo in Japan, Talents Guadalajara in Mexico and Talent Press Rio.

Talents Durban is supported by the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, Goethe-Institut SA, German Embassy in South Africa, National Film and Video Foundation and Gauteng Film Commission.

The 40th Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with support from eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, the National Film and Video Foundation, German Embassy, Goethe-Institut and a range of other valued partners.

The SA FILM Academy and Reel Partners release NFVF training documentary on the wonders of water

The SA FILM Academy (SAFA) and Reel Partners recently announced the release of their National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) training documentary Water is Life – taking a fresh look at our most vital resource – through the eyes of young kids and a crew of trainees.

That water is essential to life, is a truism; after all, 60% of our body weight, 83% of our brain and our heart and about 85% of our lungs come from water. The importance of water is drilled into us and despite the memory of drought and Day Zero, we still find ourselves taking this precious resource for granted. The NFVF, SA FILM Academy and Reel Partners’ Water is Life documentary project serves as a timely reminder to ‘Wake Up!’ to the priceless value and true wonder of fresh and sea water, and encourages viewers to cherish and preserve this vital asset for posterity.

The aim of the Water is Life project – produced by the SA FILM Academy and Reel Partners with numerous sponsors – and directed and narrated by Nomfundo Lucia Masango, is to provide an ideal platform for hands-on, in-service, mentored ‘learning by doing’ training on a fully-fledged, turn-key production.

The strategic challenge was to integrate a life, occupational and entrepreneurial skills development and accredited, in-service training programme training individuals in theory and general skills required in film production – with the professional, creative production of a documentary.

View Water is Life on the SAFA YouTube content platform.


African filmmakers unite under ‘Pavillon Afriques’ at Festival de Cannes 2019

Now in its 72nd year, the Festival de Cannes is a key highlight on the global film festival calendar, bringing together filmmakers from across the globe to premiere new content. This year, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), together with 15 other African nations, is launching the Pavillon Afriques. Taking place from 14 to 25 May 2019, the African delegation – at a dedicated exhibition stand – will showcase content that highlights the diversity and plurality of African film and television.

Festival de Cannes is the world’s biggest gathering of film industry professionals who come to sell films, find partners and expand their professional network. Focused on the business of film in Africa and within the African diaspora, Pavillon Afriques aims to leverage recent industry advancements that are shaping African storytelling and the continent’s motion-picture business. The NFVF’s delegation, led by the newly appointed CEO Makhosazana Khanyile, is proudly taking along 11 filmmakers – some of whom will be showcasing their films.

“The Festival de Cannes serves as a great platform to showcase not only South African content and talent, but to also raise awareness around what we, as the African continent, can offer the world. Pavillon Afriques is about showcasing the interconnectivity of the African experience. As a continental block, we recognise that real strength lies in collective bargaining, shared skills and collaboration,” says NFVF CEO, Makhosazana Khanyile.

This year the South African delegation will be co-led by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), a strategic partner of the NFVF, mandated with promoting sustainable industrial development and innovation for the benefit of South Africa and the rest of Africa.

“The film and television industry, in our view, has great potential to be a catalyst for substantive growth and development in South Africa. International festivals, like Cannes, provide the perfect platform to promote South Africa as a world-class filming and co-production destination,” says Maijang Mpherwane, head of the Media and Audio-visual Strategic Business Unit at the IDC.

South Africa will feature strongly in the documentary segment of the festival, with four films selected to be screened at ‘Doc Corner’, a dedicated venue and tailored programme honouring the essential role documentaries play in contemporary societies. The four documentaries selected include: The Rise, The Colonel’s Stray Dogs, African Warrior Queen, and Influence. “We are excited to share films that give the world a small window into the inner workings of South African society. In today’s fake news era, documentary films are a powerful tool for shining a light on – and driving debate around – important issues affecting the world,” concludes Khanyile.

One of only three films selected to be screened at Cannes is Lace, a short film produced by VIVA Pictures which follows Garvey, a man hopelessly in love, on the night he plans to propose to his girlfriend. However, what should be a night of excitement turns into a night of tragedy, which through technology, he relives over and over again. Lace represents a new wave in South African cinema; one in which more diverse genres and films styles are coming to the fore and achieving international acclaim. Kgosi Choene, director & writer of Lace said, “To place second overall, out of a total of 5000 global submissions was a massive confidence booster and proved that we could compete with the very best in the world. By telling compelling and uniquely African stories that resonate with international audiences, we realised that we could help change the way the world views Africa.”

South African filmmakers travelling to Cannes as part of the National Film and Video Foundation’s delegation:

  • Bonolo Madisakwane
  • David Kabale
  • Dylan Voogt
  • Kevin John Singh
  • Khalid Shamis
  • Kgosi Choene
  • Jacintha Timothy
  • John Barker
  • Mary-Ann Mandishona
  • Neo Ntlatleng
  • Sara Blecher
  • Neil Brandt
  • Weaam William
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