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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.

All the SAFTAs14 winners

The 14th South African Film & Television Awards (SAFTAs) ceremony was held on social media platform, across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in an effort to still honour the South African film and television industry despite the nationwide lockdown. Hosted by radio and TV personality, Dineo Ranaka, the virtual awards took place – after several delays – at 22h50 on 29 April.

The big winners at this year’s SAFTAs were Tshedza Pictures, scooping 17 awards in total. South Africa’s official Oscars entry for 2019, Knuckle City bagged six wins having had a successful international festival run. South Africa’s Best Television Presenter Award – voted for by the public – was Hectic on 3’s Entle Bizana, with the Most Popular TV Soap/Telenovela award going to Imbewu.

Making another appearance as a sponsor, for two years in a row, local short and long-term insurer Kunene Makopo Risk Solutions (KMRS) sponsored the Best Actor in a Telenovela & Best Actress in a Telenovela categories with cash prizes to the value of R50 000. Commenting on their involvement in celebrating South African Talent, Thapelo Mokoena and Siyanda Kunene said: “We were more than happy to come on board in supporting South African Talent for the second year in a row. Our business seeks to support its clients at every avenue of their journey. Our local talent needs our support now more than ever. It’s a challenging time for the industry and this was our opportunity to say we appreciate their efforts in entertaining South Africans. We congratulate Sindi Dlathu and Roberto Kyle for their wins at this year’s SAFTAs.”

“It is an incredibly bittersweet moment to congratulate all the SAFTAs 14 winners whilst they could not experience a full celebration of their hard work. We thank the industry for understanding and supporting the NFVF in the difficult decisions that had to be made during this crisis and the NFVF is fully committed to ensuring that the industry gets as much support as it needs during a time where livelihoods are heavily impacted. We are grateful to Kunene Makopo Risk Solutions whose cash prize comes at a much needed time, and we look forward to partnering with them again in 2021. We have a lot of sponsors who started the journey with us who, due to financial constraints, were forced to pull out their sponsorships and we extend our heartfelt thanks to them and look forward to renewing partnerships in 2021,” said NFVF CEO Makhosazana Khanyile

The SAFTAs14 winners are:

Best Short Film – The Letter Reader

Best Student Film – Moya

Best Achievement in Directing – Telenovela – The River (Ferry Jele, Catharine Cooke, Zolani Phakade & Johnny Barbuzano)

Best Achievement in Directing – TV Soap – Rhythm City (Eric Mogale)

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – Telenovela – The River (Gwydion Beynon, Phathutshedzo Makwarela, Christa Biyela, Lebogang Mogashoa & Mamello Lebona)

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Soap – Getroud met Rugby (Writing team)

Best Achievement In Original Music/Score – Telenovela – Isibaya (Philip Miller)

Best Achievement in Editing – Telenovela – The River (Bongi Malefo, Matodzi Nemungadi & Ula Oelsen)

Best Achievement in Sound – TV Soap/Telenovela – The River (Ben Oelsen, Juli Vanden Berg & Tladi Steven Mabuya)

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Telenovela – The River (Alice Mataboge)

Best Achievement in Make-up and Hairstyling – TV Soap/Telenovela – The River (Bongi Mlotshwa)

Best Achievement in Art Direction – TV Soap/Telenovela – Arendsvlei (Beatrix van Zyl)

Best Actress – Telenovela – Sindi Dlathu (The River)

Best Actor – Telenovela – Roberto Kyle (Arendsvlei)

Best Supporting Actress – Telenovela -Mary-Anne Barlow (The River)

Best Supporting Actor- Telenovela – Loyiso MacDonald (The Queen)

Best Actress-TV Soap – Denise Newman (Suidooster)

Best Actor-TV Soap – Bongile Mantsai (Scandal!)

Best Supporting Actress – TV Soap – Kgomotso Christopher (Scandal!)

Best Supporting Actor – TV Soap – Mncedisi Shabangu (Rhythm City)

Best TV Soap – Rhythm City (Quizzical Pictures)

Best Telenovela – The River (Tshedza Pictures)

Best Achievement in Directing – TV Drama – The Republic (Johnny Barbuzano & Rea Rangaka)

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Drama – The Republic (Phathutshedzo Makwarela & Gwydion Beynon)

Best Achievement in Editing – TV Drama – Spreeus (Leon Visser)

Best Achievement in Sound – TV Drama – The Republic (Ben Oelsen & Juli Vanden Berg)

Best Achievement in Original Music/Score-TV Drama – Spreeus (Pierre-Henri Wicomb)

Best Achievement in Art Direction – TV Drama – Shadow (Christelle van Graan)

Best Achievement in Wardrobe – TV Drama – Ifalakhe (Heidi Riss, Monique Lamprecht & Nerine Pienaar)

Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hairstyling – TV Drama – Ifalakhe (Ronwyn Jarrett)

Best Achievement in Cinematography – TV Drama – The Republic (Ntobeko Dlamini)

Best Actress-TV Drama – Florence Masebe  (The Republic)

Best Actor -TV Drama – Wiseman Mncube (eHostela)

Best Supporting Actress – TV Drama – Brenda Ngxoli (iThemba)

Best Supporting Actor – TV Drama – Seputla Sebogodi (The Republic)

Best TV Drama – The Republic (Tshedza Pictures)

Best Achievement in Directing – Documentary Feature – Buddha in Africa (Nicole Schafer)

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Documentary – The Sound of Masks (Sara Gouveia)

Best Achievement in Editing – Documentary – The Fun’s Not Over – The James Phillips Story (Michael Cross)

Best Achievement in Sound – Documentary Feature – Dying for Gold ( Catherine Meyburgh, Guy Steer & Mapula Lehong)

Best Documentary Feature- Buddha in Africa (Thinking Strings Media)

Best Natural History and Environmental Programme – STROOP: Journey into the Rhino Horn War (Scott & de Bod Films)

Best Competition Reality Show – Ultimate Braai Master (Okuhle Media)

Best Structured or Docu-reality Show – Living the Dream with Somizi Season 4 (Barleader TV)

International Format Show – Celebrity Game Night S1 (Rapid Blue)

Best Factual & Educational Programme – Op Seer Se Spoor (Gambit Films)

Current Affairs Programme – Checkpoint Work Hazards (eNCA)

Best Variety Show – Mooi Afrokaans Film & Television)

Best Youth Programme – MTV Shuga Down South 2 (Quizzical Pictures)

Natural History and Environmental Programme on Innovative Research – Cave Crocs of Gabon (Earth Touch)

Best Children’s Programme –  Words and Numbers Series 9 (Johan Stemmet Entertainment Enterprises)

Best Entertainment Programme – Emo 30 Jaar In Musiek (All Star Productions)

Best Lifestyle Programme – Elders: Japan ( Bonanza Films)

Best Made for TV Movie – Droomman (Deon Opperman Produksies)

Best Achievement in Directing – Feature Film – Knuckle City ( Jahmil X.T. Qubeka)

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – Feature Film – Fiela se Kind (Brett Michael Innes)

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Feature Film – Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer ( Willie Nel)

Best Achievement in Sound Design – Feature Film –  Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer (Jim Petrak)

Best Achievement in Original Music/Score – Feature Film – Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer (Chris Letcher)

Best Achievement in Editing – Feature Film – Knuckle City (Layla Swart)

Best Achievement in Production Design – Feature Film – Knuckle City (TK Khampepe & Justice Nhlapo)

Best Achievement in Costume Design – Feature Film – Back of the Moon (Trudi Mantzios)

Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hairstyling – Feature Film – Knuckle City (Carol Babalwa Mtshiselwa)

Best Actress – Feature Film – Clementine Mosimane (Poppie Nongena)

Best Actor – Feature Film – Bongile Mantsai (Knuckle City)

Best Supporting Actress – Feature Film – Anna-Mart van der Merwe ( Poppie Nongena)

Best Supporting Actor – Feature Film – Patrick Ndlovu  (Knuckle City)

Best Feature Film – Fiela se Kind (The Film Factory and Nostalgia Productions)

Lifetime Achiever Award – Thembi Mtshali-Jones

Youth Achiever Award – Thabo Welcome

Outstanding Person with Disability Contributor Award – Boitshoko  Keabetswe, Malebo Matlhage

Outstanding Provincial Contributor Award – Luzuko Dilima

Emerging Filmmaker Award – Vusi Africa Sindane

Best TV Presenter – Entle Bizana (Hectic On 3)

Most Popular TV Soap/Telenovela – Imbewu ( Grapevine Productions)

The NFVF to offer immediate relief to film practitioners amid COVID-19 lockdown

South Africa’s local film and television industry has been severely impacted by Covid-19 and a number of productions have been haltered not to mention scores of live events cancelled. In an effort to offer relief measures, as outlined in the minister’s address on 25 March, the NFVF will be prioritising making payments to beneficiaries that have submitted milestones in the past two weeks. Beneficiaries who have yet to submit milestones over the next three months will also be consulted during this period to determine how best they can be assisted. This extends only to individuals that have current contracts with the NFVF.

The NFVF has ensured that it supports any activities that can occur in confined and isolated environments, with the early release of Calls for Funding that include Script Development, Animation, Post-Production and Archive applications. The call for these applications would have been opened in August 2020, however, due to the current climate, the NFVF released these calls on 27 March 2020, to keep the industry busy during this downtime. The normal funding processes will still be applied to all applications including NFVF Council approvals, envisaged to take place on 10 June. The NFVF will also ensure that funding earmarked for Film Festivals, which have been cancelled based on travel bans in place, is redirected to bolster production budgets for the new fiscal starting 1 April 2020.

As part of the slates program which benefits young emerging producers, the NFVF has identified a savings of R5 million from the current fiscal, which will be used as part of the relief program. The NFVF will provide a once off cash injection of R500 000 to the ten companies currently commissioned by the organisation to assist during this distressing time of canceled production shoots. This relief will only be contained to the slates currently commissioned by the institution. “We stand in solidarity with the practitioners of the TV and Film industry and we hope that these relief measures we have put in place speak to the level of our commitment,” said NFVF CEO Makhosazana Khanyile

In line with the NFVF’s strategic objective of creating an enabling environment for young Filmmakers to develop the technological skills to thrive in an ever-changing world, the NFVF is currently engaging with potential partners to provide virtual training solutions during this downtime. Further communication will follow in days to come with regard to this initiative.

SAFTAs14 ceremony cancelled due to COVID19 outbreak

The National Film & Video Foundation have announced that the 2020 SAFTAs ceremony will not go ahead as planned.

“In light of the announcement made by President Ramaphosa and the Government’s strict actions in response to the COVID19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, the National Film and Video Foundation would like to inform you that the 14th annual South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs14) will no longer take place at the Sandton Convention Centre on 27 – 28 March 2020,” said the NFVF in a statement.

Further details will be communicated in due course.

NFVF celebrates the launch of the Eastern Cape Film Hub

On 5 March, in the attendance of the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa and Eastern Cape Premier, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, the Eastern Cape Film Hub was unveiled in the Buffalo City Municipality.

Created through a collaboration between the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council (ECPACC), and Cortex Hub, the Film Hub aims to provide local filmmakers, editors and digital entrepreneurs access to a shared workspace with high-speed internet and resources to help accelerate their passions and chosen fields.

In 2012, the NFVF undertook a study to investigate the applicability of film hubs in South Africa, as a means of stimulating economic activity, driving transformation and creating jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities in the film sector. Out of that study, a concept document was produced which set out the criteria and a framework for the establishments of Film Hubs across the country. This initiative was driven by the lack of film activity in several regions across the country, mainly due to a lack of infrastructure that gives access to production and post-production facilities to aspirant filmmakers. 

“The Eastern Cape Film Hub is part of the NFVF’s and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture’s vision to create a thriving ecosystem of filmmaking. To that end, it is important that we ensure that filmmakers in all provinces are supported accordingly, and this Film Hub will serve as a blue print that can only be refined over time. We are also thrilled to be partnering with the Cortex Hub whose expertise lies in the digital entrepreneurship space, as technology is one of the key focus areas of moving our industry forward,” commented NFVF CEO Makhosazana Khanyile.

The facility will provide filmmakers access to training, mentoring and rental facilities to kickstart their filmmaking and editing careers. Following the completion of the programme, they will be tasked with creating a short film. The Film Hub will also ensure that young filmmakers entering the industry are exposed to collaborative efforts alongside successful local film talent. The Hub’s success will influence similar collaborations in underserviced parts of South Africa.

“We are proud and honoured as the Cortex Hub, to be working on such a project that has been running its operations successfully in the Buffalo City Municipality. We pride ourselves in servicing budding digital entrepreneurs with an incubation hub that can now be extended to filmmakers on the ground. Our expertise lies in helping entrepreneurs innovate and build game-changing products, which is what we aim to infuse in the filmmaking process to enrich filmmakers in the region,’’ says Anda Ngcaba, board member of the Cortex Hub

Aspiring filmmakers will have an opportunity to participate in a 12-month incubation programme. On the programme they will be given a chance to enhance their film business skills. Aspiring filmmakers that are interested in this opportunity click here – SA Film Hub.

“Buffalo City is honoured to see the creation of the country’s first Film Hub in the municipality. It is a known fact that Gauteng, Western Cape, and KZN have potentially the highest film and local content activities, and the opening of this hub in our municipality speaks volumes about the potential seen in the province. The government continues to seek ways in which it can increase investment and partnerships in the Creative Arts Industry and this is a great start in that effort,” says Mayor of Buffalo City, Xolo Pakati.

SAFTAs14 nominees

After a two-year stint at Sun City in the North-West Province, the annual South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) – managed by the National Film & Video Foundation – will be returning to Johannesburg for its 14th edition, taking place on 27 and 28 March at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Over a two-day extravaganza, the industry will gather to celebrate and reward the best of the best of local film and television talent both behind and in front of the camera, as decided by a panel of over 200 judges.

The primary objective of the SAFTAs is to honour, celebrate and promote the creativity, quality and excellence of the South African film and television industries, and to encourage entrepreneurship and the development of new talent.

This year’s nominees reflect the best films and television shows to have graced our screens in 2019, including Poppie Nongena, Fiela se Kind, and Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer.

SAFTAs13 winner, telenovela The River, raked in an impressive 15 nominations across numerous categories, including Best Achievement in Directing, Scriptwriting, Original Music/Score, Editing, Sound, Cinematography, Wardrobe, Make-up and Hair Styling, and Art Directing. Actress Sindi Dlathu secured a nomination for Best Actress in the genre, while Presley Chweneyagae was nominated in the Best Actor category. Popular soapie Isibaya, television drama Lockdown season 4 and the feature film Fiela se Kind all clinched 11 nominations each, while the drama series The Republic received 10 nominations.

Congratulations to all the nominees, who will compete for the coveted Golden Horn Trophy.

As always, the main awards ceremony (28 March) will be broadcast live on SABC 2 starting with the red carpet at 19h00 and the main awards event at 20h00.

Follow the SAFTAs on Twitter (@saftas1) and Instagram (@saftassa) for regular updates.

Follow Screen Africa on Twitter (@screenafrica) for live announcements from the awards ceremony taking place on 28 March.

Click here for a full list of the #SAFTAs14 nominees.

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.

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