31 December 2007
On the morning of December 29th a group of Basotho initiates arrived home in Zone 3, Sebokeng to see in the new year. These video stills are from a documentary work in progress called ‘My best friend is Drogba’. The film is about Kamo Sithole, a 10 year-old midfielder who plays for Sebokeng United Brothers Football Club. Per chance, these initiates arrived home on the morning that Kamo was to play in his league final. Their homecoming ceremony was filmed from Kamo's point of view. The songs that the local adult soccer players sang before their own league derby echoed those sung by the male initiates on the morning of their arrival. (The doc is being made by I.L. Mathala - sound, and C. Muller - camera.)
On December 21st 2007, the DFA received a letter from Hannelie Bekker, General Manager Entertainment for TELKOM MEDIA. It is addressed to Miki Redelinghuys and Tula Dlamini, Co-Chairs of our organization. It reads as follows:
Dear Miki and Tula,
Telkom Media Briefing for Producers
I are writing on behalf of Telkom Media to announce that a briefing for television producers on Telkom Media’s plans and requirements for sourcing South African content for its Pay TV services will be posted on our website on 21 December 2007. We would appreciate your help in ensuring that producers are aware of this.
The briefing is intended to help producers:
• get a clear picture of our first-round content requirements for next year;
• understand the terms on which we plan to do business and the opportunities these terms offer;
• understand how to interact with us.
All information can be accessed on www.telkommedia.co.za, under “Content Proposals”.
We are also planning a face to face briefing in early 2008, details of which will be released just after the December holidays.
As new entrants to the market we aim to work hard to be clear, professional and efficient in our dealings with producers and to engage with producers as key creative and business partners in creating outstanding new television.
We are well aware that we have not yet had an opportunity to meet with the organisations representing producers. We are keen to establish effective lines of communication with producer organisations, but you will understand that we are still in the process of establishing our team and so I hope you will bear with us. We would be keen to hold a meeting with producer organisations early in the New Year and will write to you shortly under separate cover concerning this.
Here is Telkom Media’s brief with regard to factual programming:
TELKOM MEDIA FACTUAL
DOCUMENTARY / FACTUAL ENTERTAINMENT
This is a very wide brief for a small number of short half-hour series (4-13 episodes) that tap into South Africans’ love of factual programming. These could range from social documentary to factual entertainment to profiles to travel, but each idea should be bold and original, and conceptually robust. We are looking for propositions that entertain by bringing some fresh insight or perspective, rather than merely reflecting what they find in the world. Treatment should ensure popular appeal.
We are interested in considering existing feature documentaries to which producers own the
rights for licensing.
Again we are interested in licensing existing programmes to which producers own the rights.
The initial submission deadline for these proposals is 28 February 2008. However, depending on the quantity and quality of submissions we may re-issue some or all of the same briefs in February with a later deadline. Completed product, for licensing, can be submitted on an ongoing basis.
Before submitting content and briefs, please familiarize yourself with the PRODUCER'S GUIDE TO TELKOM MEDIA'S TERMS OF TRADE . Please also read the TARIFF TABLE.
Bambatha: The War of the Heads 1906
December saw the broadcast of Rehad Desai’s documentary film on SABC:
The story of the Bambatha rebellion is one of resistance, heroism and ultimately of violent colonial conquest. Unearthing the dramatic events surrounding the 1906 revolt in the colony of Natal exposes the spirit of our
forefathers whom, faced with escalating levels of oppression at the turn of the century, organized a formidable fight back.
When colonial leaders introduce the Poll Tax in Natal in 1905, many Africans see it as the final insult. Denied the best land and cropped within small reserve lands, they have faced war, famine and the undermining of African
communal life. But now this new tax threatens to totally destroy African patriarchy and with it, tradition itself. The chiefs are split over how to respond.
One such chief, Bambatha, like many others, fears the consequences of standing up to the might of the Colonialists. But he becomes a scapegoat for the British and has no choice but to fight. From a reluctant young chief, Bambatha evolves into the spirited leader of an unified African force that challenges the very core of British rule.
We open with the context of colonial conquest and its impact on African life, the initial phase of rebellion and Bambatha the man. The film then proceeds to look at the conflict surrounding his departure from his reserve in Umvoti, his march to the forests of Nkandla, and his success in uniting his fellow Africans to resist the colonial authorities. The ambiguous relationship of the chiefs is brought to the fore by our focus on his relationship to the Zulu inkosi, Dinuzulu, the chief of chiefs.
The tone of Impi Yamakhanda is self referential ˆ African centred ˆ which brings directly to the fore the impact of rapid societal change brought by the advent of colonialism through accommodation to conquest. Accommodation saw over a brief sixty year period, or one generation, tremendous upheaval and a deterioration of African communal life and the expansion of the tyranny of capitalism. How did this affect the sensibility of Africans, rebel and loyal chiefs alike, and how did generational conflict within communal society affect the course of history. The challenge of our approach is to give personal voice to the internal dialogue of our characters, to marry the emotional interior to the societal exterior which burst forth into rebellion.
In many ways the conflict of 1906 echoes itself in our lives today. How can Ubuntu and African spiritualism coexist within a socio economic order that promotes individualism, self advancement and competition over community, collectivity and cooperation. In short this question organizes our central story line of Bambatha and the present day documentary elements that seek to illustrate the attempts to reconcile with a hoary past that has left swathes of present day Natal and Zululand scarcely resourced in terms of land and cattle.
For more information, please contact Uhuru Productions
DOCS IN THESSALONIKI 2008
March 12th, 2008 - March 16th, 2008
DOCS IN THESSALONIKI 2008 CALLS FOR PROJECTS
Docs in Thessaloniki is an international pitching forum and workshop offering an outstanding opportunity to create alliances for future collaborations. Here you will develop & pitch your project and network with European colleagues and financiers in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere.
Docs in Thessaloniki consist of a five-day programme, where 21 selected documentary projects will be developed, re-written and pitched. Docs in Thessaloniki concludes with two days of pitching where all participants pitch their projects to a panel of 10-15 international financiers from leading broadcasters. The pitching session is followed by individual meetings for in-depth discussions about further development and possible future collaboration.
How to Submit
In order to submit a project for pitching at Docs in Thessaloniki please send in English a 2-page description of your documentary project containing:
- title, name of producer, production company and director, length, format
- synopsis & treatment with visual approach and reflections on the narrative
- the total budget amount & a brief financing plan
- production plan/time of delivery
- short CV & filmography of company and director
- contact details on producer/production company and/or director
We prefer receiving submissions with visual material. Either in form of a 3-4 minute DVD-promo/trailer or a copy of your previous work. Final deadline: January 25th, 2008
EDN Network Manager Hanne Skjødt
Visual material should be posted to: EDN Attention Hanne Skjødt Vognmagergade 10, 1st floor 1120 Copenhagen K Denmark
tel: +45 3313 1122
Calling Youth Media Producers!
The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and Adobe Youth Voices are looking for youth produced works on human rights from around the globe to screen in our newly established YOUTH PRODUCING CHANGE program. We're also hoping you'll be able to help us spread the word about our call for submissions by passing along this email. We're looking for film, video and animated works made by youth (ages 19 and younger) that focus on human rights and social issues like: Equality, civil rights, children's rights, women's rights, international justice, HIV/AIDS, the environment, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender rights, health, the environment, war and conflict, freedom of expression, counterterrorism, gender, refugees, immigration, economic, social, and cultural rights and more.
Submit your film by downloading an application form here.
Email the information to Jennifer Nedbalsky at email@example.com by January 22, 2007
HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL
April 17th, 2008 - April 27th, 2008
HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL, a competitive event held in Toronto, seeks documentaries of all lengths and subject matter. Canadian works must have been completed after Jan. 1, '07; works for all other categories must have been completed after Jan. 1, '06. All works must be Toronto premieres.
final deadline: January 10th, 2008
DOC LAB 2008
After the success of last year’s second annual Doc Lab, Hot Docs’ intensive five-day creative development workshop, HotDocs is pleased to once again invite 15 early to mid-career documentary writers and directors to take part in this specially designed master class programme, running from April 20– 25, during the 2008 Hot Docs Festival.
Doc Lab is not an opportunity to market your work or pitch your videos. Its purpose is to provide filmmakers in need of creative refueling a chance to connect with leading creative professionals from the documentary world through intimate and focused discussions pertinent to their craft and projects. The participants are guided through the programme with the help of the group’s Doc Lab mentor. Last year’s mentor was veteran Gerry Flahive who, alongside other Doc Lab speakers, shared and debated ideas with Lab participants. The curated itinerary will include salon-style Doc Lab workshops, meetings, social gatherings, screenings, one-day access to the Toronto Documentary Forum as well as admission to many other industry panels and events.
For more information, contact Daniel Northway Frank: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download an application form for the Doc Lab here.
The International Public Television organisation celebrates its 30th showcase next year and INPUT 2008 promises to be a birthday extravaganza par excellence. The Host, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), has formed a unique partnership that will bring the world to Africa and showcase Africa to the world. For one week more than a thousand professionals from around the globe will screen and discuss TV at the cutting edge.
So join us in Johannesburg, South Africa, from May 4th to 10th 2008 to celebrate three decades of Input, Television in the Public Interest.
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN...
1. Registration: Sign up now for Africa’s number one TV Extravaganza
Online registration has now started. Registration Fees (including the screenings, opening night reception, video library service and evening sessions):
• Early Bird Rate: Rand ZAR 300.00, deadline January 31st 2008
• Regular Rate: Rand ZAR 400.00
• Student Rate: Rand ZAR 250.00
Please note at the current exchange rate one South African Rand (ZAR) is about Euro 0.10 and US $ 0.15.
Register online now at www.input2008.org.za
For any questions regarding registration, please e-mail the Input 2008 Team at: email@example.com
2. Accommodation: Book your room as soon as possible. In Sandton, peak season is all year long as business tourism is at an all time high in South Africa.
The venue for the conference is the Sandton Convention Centre. The Input 2008 Team have negotiated a range of special rates for hotels in the Sandton area. To see the various options available visit the accommodation section of the Input 2008 website
3. The Input 2008 Official Carrier is South African Airways (SAA) which is part of the Star Alliance.
The Alliance has negotiated a special Convention Plus Package. Please visit the flights section of the Input 2008 website for the event code and information about flight discounts
4. Airport and hotel transfers
There will be Input 2008 desks at both the Domestic as well as International Arrivals halls of Joburg’s OR Tambo Airport to coordinate your transfers. Groups of ten or more will be able to travel from the airport to their respective hotels at a discounted rate of R150 per person sharing, one way. Persons travelling on their own will pay the standard rate of R 350 one way. Input 2008 will also provide a daily shuttle service between your hotel and the conference centre.
5. Programme submission
Worldwide the deadlines for online Programme Submissions differ. Check with your National Coordinator whether you are still in time. For countries without a National Coordinator, the deadline for programme submission is 31st January 2008. Find out more about this on the Input 2008 website
If you need other information do not hesitate to contact the INPUT 2008 Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO
Below is the trailer for the film For The Bible Tells Me So, a provocative documentary that reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture. Through the experiences of five families, this film examines how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, the documentary was a contender for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2007.
In 1970, Albert and David Maysles completed the documentary GIMME SHELTER that chronicled the Rolling Stones' 1969 tour of America, culminating in a free concert in Altamont. Proponents of 'direct cinema' and a 'fly on the wall' observational approach, the Maysles were allowed free access, capturing a slew of sixties icons in unguarded moments. However, as the concert at Altamont wore on the euphoria turned ugly when a young fan was stabbed to death by one of the Hells Angels who had been hired to provide security. The drug-fueled aggression of Altamont and the ensuing chaos that erupted in the wake of the teenager's death, came to signal the end of the "Love" generation of the sixties.
A young George Lucas was one of the camera men who worked on this documentary and anecdote has it that his camera jammed after shooting 100 feet of film at the concert and none of the material made it into the final film. Dubbed "the most explosive rock 'n roll movie ever made", Gimme Shelter elicited strong reaction on its release.
The International Cinematographers' Guild published an article titled Gimme Shelter: The True Story that delves into the making of this epic documentary about a murder at a rock concert gone wrong.
GIMME SHELTER has been posted on YouTube in 9 parts. Here is the first:
Part 2 of 9:
Part 3 of 9:
Part 4 of 9:
Part 5 of 9:
Part 6 of 9:
Part 7 of 9:
Part 8 of 9:
Part 9 of 9:
At the age of 81 Albert Maysles is still practising his craft. Read more about his latest work on his website. Maysles has this to say about his role as a documentary maker:
"As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality. It is my caretaker, the provider of subjects, themes, experiences – all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery. And the closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. After all, the knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It’s my way of making the world a better place."
HAPPY NEW YEAR...
Posted by DFA at 12/31/2007
25 November 2007
The silly season comes to Joburg
The Cape Film Commission is setting up a resource centre at the Waterfront Studios in order to develop the Cape film industry. This initiative will be running on a trial basis for 6 weeks from 14th December to the end of January. There will be a workspace with 10 computer workstations and a meeting room for 15-20 people with a data projector. The idea is that the space will be used by various industry organisations for events, meetings and training sessions. The CFC has very kindly allowed the DFA to have 20 hours in the resource centre over the 6 weeks of operation. This space will house the next DFA Cape Town meeting and other events for the space will be planned.
MARGINAL LIVES AND PAINFUL PASTS: SA CINEMA AFTER APARTHEID
The following review appears courtesy of the late William Pretorius, one of the first arts editors at the Weekly Mail newspaper who sadly passed away this year:
The forthcoming book, Marginal Lives and Painful Pasts: SA Cinema after Apartheid, edited by Martin Botha, a collaboration between Genugtig! Uitgewers and the University of Cape Town’s new African Cinema Unit, is one of the first to explore an overview of local cinema in the new South Africa.
The opening chapter, Botha’s “Post-apartheid Cinema: Policy, Structures, Themes and a New Aesthetics”, examines the connection between the current industry and that of the apartheid era. The context of the old industry creates the context for the new one. Under apartheid, there were filmmakers such as Ross Devenish, Manie van Rensburg, Jans Rautenbach and Katinka Heyns, who were, to differing degrees, critical of the establishment. While much of the work at the time supported the status quo, the various contexts of the film industry were too complex to reduce all creative products to a blanket acceptance of the then-oppressive regime.
Botha writes that for decades the South African film industry existed in isolation while, especially from the 1950s to the 1980s, world cinema enjoyed a revival, with innovative films made in Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Asian countries. The revival continues, with world cinema probably being at its most exciting at present, a creative flux from which we’re excluded because of the nature of our commercial distribution patterns and an overemphasis on Hollywood films.
In the old days, we were excluded through official moral and political censorship. An important development was the establishment of the Film Resources Unit (FRU) in 1986. Its audience development programmes and film distribution systems made material available that, without the organisation, would have been suppressed and unseen. The formation of the Film and Allied Workers Organisation was an attempt to normalise the industry, although the more radically political component of our industry was seen overseas rather than here.
Later, post-apartheid, the establishment of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), and other financial initiatives, led to the creation of a mini-industry with a variety of films. Our films started winning awards. Product was ideologically and thematically varied. Movies such as Wooden Camera, Proteus, Max and Mona, Forgiveness, The Flyer, U-Carmen eKayalitsha, Soldiers of the Rock, Crazy Monkey: Straight Outta Benoni, Bunny Chow and, more recently, the first Afrikaans film in 10 years, Ouma se Slim Kind, were shown alongside the yearly Leon Schuster comedy that cleans up at the box office. His films, whatever their merits or demerits, define the South African commercial audience crowd-pleaser.
This phase culminated with Tsotsi, which won the Oscar as best foreign film in 2006. At last year’s Sithengi Market and Cape Film Festival, various overseas guests I spoke to seemed surprised that Tsotsi was a one-off, not the norm.
Two key developments in post-apartheid cinema were the Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which gave queer film, both indigenous and international, a visible presence, and the rise of the documentary film. The latter has developed into a rich, innovative filmmaking that uses documentary techniques -- including personal, objective and progressive approaches -- to connect to South African realities.
Despite all these changes, one has to ask whether the industry has become a matter of a promise unfulfilled. On the plus side, the director Michael Raeburn is filming Triomf, based on Marlene van Niekerk’s novel, which would have been impossible before transformation.
Co-productions, always a strong if contentious component of the industry, continue. And indications are that South Africa will continue as a service industry for films from other countries -- in Ask the Dust, Cape Town stood in for Los Angeles, a throwback to the old Hollyveld days, but at least the films are of better quality.
The FRU, though, recently announced its demise because of financial problems. Money lodged by United States funders with the FRU for editing Ross Devenish’s recently filmed Nothing but the Truth was not available because of a short-term loan of half the funder’s amount negotiated by the producer, Richard Green. Contentiously, the other half is still outstanding. The FRU’s downfall means that Devenish is unable to complete the film.
Funding granted to the NFVF has diminished considerably. The stream of films released last year is down to a trickle. There is concern about the fact that the NFVF seems unable to appoint a new council. Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan has requested the outgoing council to remain until a new one is agreed upon -- eight members have decided to remain. Nine council members are needed for the NFVF to function.
The fate of the NFVF-funded showcase for South African films and students’ work, the Apollo Film Festival, also hangs in the balance because of internal problems.
Furthermore, one hears that, among distributors and some funders, the Hollywood-style, commercial film is preferred. Distributors can refuse to distribute certain films -- for example, they were unable to create a business case for releasing a post-modern film such as Proteus, which is analysed in-depth in Botha’s anthology and in international magazines.
Film is changing too. We’re apparently in the digitised post-film age -- digital, both in making product and its distribution has, according to the American commentator Wheeler Winston Dixon, “liberated the visual from the ‘tyranny’ of the imperfect medium of film”. How will this impact on our industry? This creates a monolith around which independent filmmakers must work if they seek another means of expression. There isn’t an audience for South African movies, either, and audience development should be a priority. So should the development of a film culture.
There are now numerous film schools teaching people how to make films, but hardly any to teach the public how to look at them, also an important part of the growth of a film culture. We could learn from a cultural organisation such as Open Doek in Belgium, which organises large and small film festivals throughout the year and, importantly, makes a vital selection of world cinema available on DVD. This generates an appreciation of film that counters the all-pervasive Hollywood influence.
The Cape Town group Amarabelle is researching ways of distributing films in townships. Initial research indicates that cinemas of the same standards as those in urban shopping malls, with the same first-release product, are desired. Peet Louw of Humble Pie Entertainment has created a distribution system that caters for platteland audiences.
At the moment, the industry seems to be a series of challenges and of things falling apart. Are they deep-seated structural problems within the industry that need to be urgently addressed, or glitches? Time will tell.
MULTICHOICE VUKA! AWARDS 2007 WINNERS
The MultiChoice VUKA! Awards were announced at a gala awards evening held at The Bassline in Newtown on Thursday 22nd November.
Representing MultiChoice's flagship corporate social investment programme, the VUKA! Awards encourage established and aspirant creatives to produce a TV commercial for a charity or cause that is close to their hearts in the form of Public Service Announcements (PSAs). The top 20 commercials – 10 made by professionals and 10 by industry newcomers - will be screened on DStv channels from January next year.
Says Jacki Rikotla, Corporate Affairs General Manager Multichoice: "Every year we dare aspiring and professional filmmakers and advertising creatives to put their skills and energy into making an advert that counts for our society. And every year without hesitation they meet and surpass that challenge. We are proud to be associated with the powerful work that contributes to showcasing the talents of South African filmmakers and we are proud to be associated with a project that delivers hope and endless opportunity. Congratulations to all the entrants who have so passionately brought their stories to life, we wish them well in their future endeavours."
The overall winner in the professional category is Anti-Human Trafficking which raised awareness for the International Organisation for Migration with the hard-hitting message that human trafficking is slavery. It was produced by Lesley Anne Roe of Saatchi and Saatchi and directed by Amy Alais. It also walked away with the best soundtrack award.
Another big winner in the professional category included the poignant Father from production house Groundglass for The Tomorrow Trust which focuses on the tragic story of child-headed households - children who are being raised by other children because of the devastation caused by HIV/Aids. It won for best direction and best creative concept/script.
Happy Together by Fresh Eye Film Productions for the South African National Blood Service won best creative editing; Surfer by Faith Creations /Young & Rubicam CT (one of a beautiful trio of commercials) for Al Anon won in the best cinematography category and A Clean Start by Afrofusion Communications for Indalo Yethu Environmental in the best animation category.
In the best newcomer category the overall winner went to the animated Handle Your Gambling which was directed by the Animation School's Simon Anderson and Lani Greenhill for the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation. The commercial walked away with four other awards - for best direction, best animation, best soundtrack and best creative concept and/or script.
The other winner in the newcomer category was the hard-hitting Perceptions produced by AFDA in Cape Town for the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women & Children. Produced by Thobile Mkhwanazi and directed by Rio Allen, it looks at how abuse in the home affects all members of the family.
All entries are judged on merit and judges do not know who the entrants are.
The 2007 Judges were Peter Van Jaarsveld (Metropolitan Republic); Gerd Muller (Ministry of Illusion); Ian Wilson (The Front Film Productions); Paul Warner
(Metropolitan Republic); Peter Carr (Velocity Films); Dimitri Repanis; Rachel Andreotti (FCB); Werner Maritz (Dop); Gary King (Picture Tree); Angus Gibson; Graham Hickson; Marge Hughes; John Culverwell (Sonovision Studios) Jeremy Holden (Riverstone Films), Judith Mofutsanyana (Mc Cann Erickson); Clinton Bridgeford (Y & R); Sandy De Witt; Richard Starkey (Guillotine); Pam Marsh (The Refinery); Bongi Selane (M-Net) and Dylan Lloyd.
For a more detailed break-down of the semi-finalists and all participating contributors, please visit the VUKA! Awards on-line
The following news piece appears courtesy of the Screen Africa e-newsletter:
NEW SITHENGI BOARD ELECTED
Against the background of the dire financial situation in which the Sithengi Film and TV Market has been placed (see screenafrica.com newsletter 35/2007), a positive note was struck with the election of a new Sithengi board at a second special general meeting on Friday 16 November 2007.
The election of new board members followed the resignation of the old board which comprised the main funders of Sithengi, namely the National Film& Video Foundation (NFVF), SABC, Department of Arts & Culture (DAC) and the Department of Communication (DoC) as one industry representative.
The following 15 industry members were elected as new Sithengi board members: Dorothy Brislin, Harriet Gavshon, Nicola Rauch, Richard Nosworthy, Firdoze Bulbulia, Faith Isiakpere, Judi Nwokedi, Mariam Sha, David Forbes (DFA member), Bobby Amm, Dezi Rorich, Lebone Maema, Carolyn Carew, Cathrine Meyburgh and Zeletu Nondumo.
According to the articles of association of the Film and TV Market Initiative section 24 company t/a Sithengi, the board should be comprised of a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 15 members. It was decided at the general meeting to limit the number of board members to 15 to allow for co-opting further board members at a later stage if necessary.
Eddie Mbalo, the former chairman of Sithengi and CEO of the NFVF presented a legal opinion by attorney Mark Rosin on the standing of Sithengi. Rosin’s letter addressed to Mbalo opens with the words “I refer to the newsletter 35/2007 published by Screen Africa as well as a letter from Sithengi’s auditors, Nexia Cape Town of 17 September 2007.” He then goes on to say that he has “not had an opportunity to examine the accounts of Sithengi, the various agreements with debtors or conducted a due diligence in respect of (the) status or as to the prospects of success in being able to recover amounts which are owed. I therefore send this to you with those caveats and simply as a starting point from which we may explore the matter further.”
The letter goes on to say that “the members need to decide whether they need to wind up the affairs of the company in its current circumstances. This means a critical and clear look at the opportunities of recovery in relation to monies owed to Sithengi. If there are realistic opportunities, then these should be followed without delay. If not, then the company must be placed into liquidation …
“Against that background and given that there is a sentiment of members wishing to retain the name and continue working for the good of the Festival and Market and the company in general, I think that it would be prudent to hand over the reigns to a board of directors which would be charged with and would undertake this activity with vigour.”
It was raised at the meeting that if the SABC pays its outstanding debt of approximately R800,000 and the National Lotteries Board (NLB) honours its undertaking to pay a final instalment of R1.9m, then Sithengi will be placed on a sound financial footing. The NLB has, however, contested its obligation to pay on the basis that Sithengi did not comply with the terms of the agreement and had failed to properly account for the funds provided by the NLB.The new board agreed to meet at the earliest opportunity to elect a chairperson and to plan Sithengi’s future direction.
NOMINATION FOR GAUTENG FILM PARTNERSHIP: This news piece (below) appears courtesy of the Screen Africa e-newsletter:
The Gauteng Film Partnership will aim to bring together the resources, energy and creativity of key organisations, groups, communities and in order to meet the development needs of the wider Gauteng audiovisual industry and ensure that Gauteng remains an attractive location for all types of film production.
The purpose of the Gauteng Film Partnership will be to:
*Collectively work at elevating the provincial profile of the
audiovisual industry in Gauteng
*Support GFC and industry efforts aimed at achieving targeted
growth through the efficient management and coordination of the audiovisual industries in Gauteng
*Guide the GFC on the adoption of clearly defined roles and
*Provide provincial wide guidance on resource allocation
*Ensure that provincial government activities are undertaken within
a participatory governance framework
*Ensure optimal industry-wide linkages
*Collectively lobby for a film friendly business environment
*Provide for efficient and effective industry communication and
*Advise on provincial policy and strategy setting*Ensure enhanced co-ordination and linkages throughout relevant
provincial departments and municipal entities on film related matters
*Investigate, encourage and implement relevant actions to identify
and disseminate best practice in respect to location filming
*Develop focussed working groups to address specific development
*Engage with public and private sector stakeholders affected by
location filming in Gauteng
Representation & Membership:
The Partnership will comprise members from key public sector bodies and the private, community and voluntary sectors to represent as many of the following core activities as possible:
*new media, film, television, video, commercials and photo stills
* broadcasting, screening and distribution
* training and education
* location marketing, scouting and facilitation
* logistics support
* funding and financing
* stock footage, archives and libraries
* municipal government
* tourism and hospitality
* general business
* Other (deemed necessary by the Partnership)
Members of the Partnership will:
*Represent their area of expertise rather than their own
*Regularly communicate with people involved in their area of
*Promote the development of a long-term strategic view
*Volunteer their time freely to the Partnership and assist the Chair and any working groups that may be established on programmes and activities
*Be invited to meetings and functions from time to time by the
Partnership and/or GFC
It is envisaged that the Partnership will meet at least quarterly.
The Gauteng Film Partnership Chair will report to Gauteng Film Commission on progress and actions necessary to achieve targets through the Partnership and will complete an annual self-assessment progress report. The work of the Partnership will be administratively supported by the Gauteng Film Commission who will also provide secretariat for the Partnership.
Submission of nominations:
Each nomination containing a brief motivation and short biographical outline/ resumé must be submitted in writing, must be signed by the
nominator(s) and must be accompanied by the written acceptance of the person nominated.
Each nomination will be acknowledged within 10 days of receipt.
Nominators may make as many nominations as they wish.
Comments and nominations for membership to the Gauteng Film Partnership should be sent in writing to Jacques Stoltz, Senior Marketing Manager by fax 011 833 0282, email@example.com or mail or courier by close of business 30 November 2007.
Appointment of Members:
A working group with representation from the industry will be established to assess nominations and advise the GFC on a final shortlist.
The shortlist will be circulated for public comment before final appointments are made.
THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE
Broad Daylight films are back on the case with a brand new documentary that looks at South Africa’s presidential race. Ben Cashdan writes:
What are the motives behind the 2 camps supporting Zuma and Mbeki for President?
What's really at stake in this leadership race?
Who will hold the balance of power in Polokwane?
We have just completed our film on the leadership race in South Africa. We spent 2 weeks on the ground in the OR Tambo region of the Eastern Cape (the former Transkei) , trying to understand the motives behind the 2 camps. We visited a community where there have been recent protests over lack of service delivery, to get their take on the leadership question. The result is our new film "Through the Eye of the Needle". Catch one of our free public screenings in Joburg, PE, Durban or Cape Town between 4th and 12th December (see advert above), or get more information from Broad Daylight
DREAMFIELDS: When radio journalist John Perlman quit SAfm he took up activism of a different kind. John started the Dreamfields charity, an initiative that provides soccer kit, boots, balls and eventually playing fields to communities in need.
Catherine Muller (director, camera, editor) and Zeno Petersen (camera) traveled to Venda to create a 10 minute documentary that tells the story of two rural teams being transformed:
DREAMFIELDS FUNDRAISER: Bafana Republic at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. Wednesday 28th November 2007 at 20h15
John Perlman writes:
Every village in South Africa, no matter how small, produces exceptional individuals. The Dreamfields Project has embarked on a project to assist just such a remarkable group of people who grew up in the tiny Northwest Province village of Gopane – and never forgot where they came from. Led by electrical engineer Lazarus Pholoko and nuclear physicist Wilbert Leotwane – who left school having never seen a computer – the Gopane Youth Development Foundation has invested time and money in the young people of their village, inspiring them to succeed in the same way that they have.
Soccer plays an important part in a rounded programme that includes career guidance, computer training and life skills. And for that reason, Dreamfields has undertaken to help fund eight DreamBags – boots, balls and kit for 15 players – for Gopane’s under-12 teams. We are asking you to help – and all you have to do is come to the theatre and spend an evening with us, laughing out loud and enjoying yourself.
Bafana Republic is another stunning work by the award-winning playwright Mike van Graan, and appropriately it’s all about soccer and 2010 – I have attached some information about the play. Mike, and actress Lindiwe Matshikiza, who won the award for the best one-person show at the SA Comedy Awards, have both agreed to stage a benefit night for Dreamfields and the young people of Gopane – all we need now is you!
The date for the show, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, is Wednesday 28 November at 8.15pm. Tickets range in price from R250 to R150 and the show will be preceded by a short film about the Dreamfields Project. Please consider giving us your support.
About Bafana Republic:
“The 2010 World Cup is fraught with controversy, so it’s a satirist’s dream,” says Van Graan. “But the piece is not just about soccer or even sport, really. It’s about the current state of the nation, and it uses the world cup as an entry point.”
Stylistically, the play is sketch-based in the tradition of Pieter Dirk Uys, and is further inspired by the sharp, humorous critiques of Zapiro, whose cartoons link the sketches in the production.
Bafana Republic is inhabited by a range of characters like Jorge, Carlos Perreira’s BEE (Brazilian Economic Empowerment) partner, who’s employed to collect the coach’s salary. Then there’s the footballer’s wife, Chardonnay, who’s a bit of an alcoholic, not least because her husband – who kicks for a living – sometimes brings his work home. The Bhamjees are entrepreneurs who have acted literally on the government advertisement to “make corruption your business” while Bafana Idols features a range of aspirant singers doing their hilarious versions of De la Rey, Umshini wami and The star-spangled banner, with the first prize being a gig at the opening ceremony of the World Cup.
Bafana Republic is directed by the award-winning Lara Bye with visuals by Jaco Bouwer (2008 Standard Bank Artist of the Year for Drama) and the soundtrack is by James Webb.
Posted by DFA at 11/25/2007
16 November 2007
The beautiful game: This team of boys were battling it out after the summer rains in Mphephwes village, Venda. Their trophy: a hand made soccer ball crafted out of plastic carry bags. The photo was taken as part of the Dreamfields project initiated by journalist John Perlman that provides soccer balls, kit, and eventually, playing fields, to communities in need. (Photo: C.Muller)
CTCTV call for content
Cape Town Community Television (CTCTV) Collective
c/o Workers World Media Productions, 7 Community House, 41 Salt River Road, Salt River, 7925.
Tel: + 27 21 447 2727, Fax: + 27 21 448 5076
Web link: Workers World Media Productions
CALL FOR CONTENT
CTCTV is launching Cape Town’s first non-profit, community-based TV station aimed at the greater Cape Town metropolitan area. Founded by over 200 non-profit community organizations in 2006, the Collective is committed to providing community access to the powerful medium of television as a tool to promote human rights, social justice and community cultural development. For more information on CTCTV, please go to www.wwmp.org.za.
We plan to be on air by March 2008 and need support in creating or providing content for the channel.
CTCTV’s programming policies are informed by the principles of community access and participation as outlined in the Electronic Communications Acts, whereby community TV serves as an access point for diverse members of the community as a means to share political, cultural, artistic, spiritual, and individual expression. CTCTV will therefore serve mainly as an access point for citizens and organisations of civil society. In doing so it will also ensure opportunities for emerging and established film makers to develop and air productions that are in line with the principles of CTCTV.
CTCTV is not yet established in the market place and does not have consistent revenue streams. The CTCTV board has therefore developed range of production models designed to create an enabling environment for revenue generation and independent production that different interest groups can fit into depending on their circumstances.
Given that Community TV is still in its pilot phase CTCTV will, within its policy framework, remain flexible in terms of how these models will be implemented. So if you feel that you don’t fit in to any of the categories below, or you want to make suggestions on how we can approach things differently, please send us constructive suggestions in this regard.
2. Sources of Programming
2.1 In-house programming
In-house programming, which will be kept to a minimum, refers to all programmes that will be financed and produced by CTCTV internally. This includes:
• A community news service: CTCTV will take responsibility for producing a 30-minute, daily news and current affairs programme. News items will be derived from local newspapers, community radio stations as well as material sent in by viewers via the internet and material recorded on peoples’ cell phones and cameras. CTCTV is speaking to partners who are in a position to contribute either in the form of training and/or community reporting.
• Events round-up: CTCTV will produce a weekly programme covering events that have taken place in CT in the previous week and provide a space to announce upcoming events taking place in the city.
CTCTV will also take responsibility for continuity links in between programmes.
2.2 Licensing Agreements
Licensed programming includes programmes that have been produced independently by NGOs, educational institutions (student productions), independent producers, distributors, broadcasters and other community TV stations internationally. Contributors will be asked to submit programming free of charge although CTCTV will bear costs for tape duplication and postage, where necessary. CTCTV will sign a license agreement with contributors which grants CTCTV non-exclusive rights to broadcast material over a 12-month period. Licensed content will make up the majority of programming for the first 6 months of broadcasting.
If the SABC owns the rights to material that you would like to submit, please send us a short description of the programme, including title, the date it was produced and the name of the production company and we will negotiate with the SABC.
Ideally we would like material to be submitted on DVD or Mini-DV format but if this is not possible then a preview copy on any format can be submitted. Once the material has been previewed and selected, a license agreement will be signed by CTCTV and the contributor.
Material can be submitted to Salama Ogier at Workers World Media Productions (WWMP), Community House, 41 Salt River Road, Salt River. We would like to receive the bulk of material by 14 December 2007. Those programmes that are completed after November can be submitted when available.
2.3 Programming partnerships / independent production
CTCTV is calling for programming proposals from NGOs, CBOs, independent film makers, education and government institutions that are in a position to produce content independently. Programming partners will be selected on the basis of CTCTV’s programming policy which is available on www.wwmp.org.za.
Once selected, CTCTV will support partners by:
• Providing access to a studio or outside broadcast facilities, if required.
• Providing a “letter of intent to broadcast” which can then be used by partners to raise funding or sponsorship to cover production costs, according to guidelines set out by CTCTV. The budget will include a 5% broadcasting fee payable to CTCTV to cover broadcasting costs;
• Selling advertising and, if possible, assisting partners to leverage funding or sponsorship;
In return CTCTV will have non-exclusive usage of the material, in perpetuity.
Programming proposals can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would like to receive the bulk of proposals by 14 December 2007, but there is no deadline, as such. Proposals should be no longer than three pages and include the following information:
1) Name and contact details of partner institutions and legal status (CC, Section 21, etc);
2) Details of key individuals involved – track record, skills and PDI status;
3) Synopsis of the programme;
4) Duration and number of episodes;
5) Budget summary and finance plan;
6) Target audience;
7) Time of day/week you would like the programme to be flighted (provide 3 options)
8) Indicate when the programme is likely to be ready for broadcast?
9) Details of training or community access component of your production;
10) Indicate how CTCTV can assist you (e.g. access to a studio, etc.)
Please include a show reel or promo of your work, if available.
2.4 Public access programming
Public access programming is suited more to emerging film makers, volunteers and community groups that do not have the capacity to raise their own finance to produce content independently. In the medium term, CTCTV intends to raise funds to set up a number of video access centres that will provide access to training, production facilities and a studio as well as covering basic production costs such as tape stock, transport and consumables.
In the short term, CTCTV will provide access, for a limited number of volunteers, to a studio based at UWC and is lobbying the film industry to make more studios available. CTCTV is working in partnership with organisations such as the Children’s Resource Centre, IDASA and WWMP who are working with specific target groups and is looking for additional partners who are in a position to provide public access for groups such as youth, community arts and working class communities.
Individuals or organisations are invited to submit proposals for public access programming, that is, programmes produced by volunteers in a studio environment. Use the above format, where relevant (you don’t have to have a legal entity).
3. Programme Format
CTCTV is looking for programming in any of the following programming formats:
FORMAT POSSIBLE CONTENT
5% • News
15% • Local sport events/matches
• Coverage of the World Cup Soccer preparations and event from a community perspective
• Sports development
5% • Local, national and international documentaries
• Student productions
10% • Music
• Community dance, choir and theatre groups
• Arts magazine programmes
5% • SA, African and international feature films
• Low budget feature films
Governance and democracy building
5% • Government information/public education material
• Human rights and democracy education
• Programming designed to encourage dialogue between government and civil society
10% • Educational programming (including PSA’s) on health, environment, etc.
• Programming in support of school curricula, ABET
5% • 26 – 52 min drama series
• Soapies with a difference
• Community theatre productions
• Student productions
5% • Story-telling
• Content produced by children
5% • Student productions
• Youth magazine show
10% • Religious studies
• Self improvement
20% • Informal knowledge-building (IKB)
• Advocacy/public discourse/debates/dialogue
• Talk shows/magazine programmes
4. Ensuring diversity, representivity and skills transfer
CTVTV will ensure, through the selection of programming, that:
• Programming reflects the widest diversity of people and interests in Cape Town, with a special focus on poor working class communities.
• One particular interest group (be they education institutions, government, NPOs or independent producers) do not dominate the airwaves by, for example, having more than one programme in development or on air at any given time.
• Programming is produced by a wide diversity of people across all ages, sexual orientation, disabilities, geographical area, class, race and gender, with no one group dominating simply because they have the resources to do so.
• Programming is designed to ensure maximum community participation. In other words, if you are making a film in Delft, how do the people of Delft benefit?
Independent producers are encouraged to submit proposals in partnership with non- profit organisations in order to 1) ensure skills transfer, 2) to ensure that film makers are accountable to the community they are “representing” and, 3) to make it easier for film makers to raise funding or sponsorship. This will not be a rigid policy as there will be certain types of programming where there is no obvious NPO partner.
For more information please contact the CTCTV Programme Manager, Anthea Abrahams, on email@example.com
The CTCTV board has identified the following programming priorities for the first year of broadcasting and, in some instances, have identified production partners.
Target Group: Existing partners:
Labour Partner: Workers World Media Productions (WWMP)
Weekly, 26-minute magazine programme dealing with workers rights and issues.
Sports Partner: Western Cape Sports Federation.
Government/civil society dialogue:
A programme aimed at increasing dialogue between communities, civil society organisations and local government decision makers through a once-weekly television programme which focuses strongly on public problem solving.
Youth A youth “production collective” is developing a youth magazine programme and are looking for assistance with production facilities.
NGOs Gun Free South Africa is looking for an independent producer to work with them.
Environment Partners Bio-watch and Earthlife Africa are looking for a film maker with a track record in working for the environment to work with them to develop a weekly magazine programme.
Women/gender Ilrig, New Women’s Movement, Getnet, Sweat, Samgi, TAC, etc
Health Community Health Media Trust, Media Training Centre, Love Life, etc.
Children Children’s Resource Centre, Molo Songololo, etc.
Arts Public Eye, Greatmore Studios, AMAC, etc.
Posted by DFA at 11/16/2007
"The Stanford Center for Internet and Society's 'Fair Use Project' (the FUP) was founded in 2006 to provide legal support to a range of projects designed to clarify, and extend, the boundaries of 'fair use' in order to enhance creative freedom." The FUP also runs a Documentary Film Program that specifically deals with fair use issues on non-fiction projects offering advice to US filmmakers. (The Documentary Film Program has offered legal support on films such as Manda Bala which is featured on this DFA blog. )
The FUP put together this amusing short film - made of clips culled from Disney animations no less - to illustrate and explain what copyright is and how the “fair use” principle works under USA law. In a nutshell, in America, “fair use” allows for an infringement of copyright if the material is intended for purposes of criticism, news, reporting, teaching and parody. Keep an eye out for the FBI warning at the front of the film.
When the DFA meets with Sean Flynn on Wednesday 21st November we hope to gain more information on “fair use” and whether this American legal model applies to South African law.
Posted by DFA at 11/16/2007
15 November 2007
Keynote address by Wits University's Prof. Bhekizizwe Peterson at the People to People International Documentary Conference 13 September 2007
The Value of Bantu Steve Biko's Thinking for Self-referential Documentary Filmmaking in the South.*
I would like to start by commending the organisers of the conference for paying tribute to the memory of Bantu Steve Biko in this week when we commemorate 30 years of his brutal murder by the apartheid government. I am particularly pleased by the provocative topic that they set for my talk: The value of Bantu Steve Biko's thinking for self-referential documentary filmmaking in the South. The focus implied in the topic rightly challenges us to approach Biko as a living beacon and to engage with the continued relevance of his life and ideas in ways that include but surpass his status as a martyr in the struggle for liberation in South Africa. It is in this spirit, then, that I will tease out a few provocations from Biko's writings that, I hope, will be engaged with more extensively during the conference.
Biko's speeches and essays were delivered and written between 1969 and 1977 and they were largely concerned with mobilising resistance against the apartheid regime, the politics of race and identity and the creation of social programmes and projects for the development of the black community. Biko's dedication to advocacy and social transformation were informed by his belief that "the system concedes nothing without demand". (I Write, 91) Biko did not write much on the arts apart from a few comments on largely music and dance. He did, however, make substantive observations on the role and value of culture, understood in its broader sense as a "society's composite answer to the varied problems of life" (I Write, 96). He regarded culture as 'a particular way of life' that is organised around the social, spiritual, economic, intellectual and creative development in a group or society. Biko's reflections on the social role of culture are still relevant today, especially with regard to contemporary concerns and understandings of the politics of power, social and individual agency, identity and globalisation.
The first challenge that Biko presents to people - such as ourselves - who consider themselves to be intellectuals, opinion makers and artists is the need to always adopt a critical consciousness and an innovative praxis. Since he shared the view that the dominant ideas in a society are often those of the dominant social groups, he felt that it is incumbent on artists (and all citizens for that matter) to analyze and reflect on their experiences and their world with an interrogative disposition. The critical sense that he advocated, led Biko to consistently recast the ways in which society was apprehended. For Biko, "To get the right answers, we must ask the right questions" (I Write, 27) So, for instance, during his testimony on behalf of comrades who were facing treason charges at the SASO (South African Student's Organisation) / BPC (Black People's Convention) Trial, Biko and the accused, in the tradition of their predecessors, turned the trial on its head and ended up cross examining the prosecutor, insisting that it should be the apartheid state that should be in the dock for the acts of terrorism it had committed against Blacks. (Testimony, 139) In the same vein, in response to the colonial tendency to present the contradictions of colonialism as stemming from a "native problem" or a "black problem", Biko was adamant that "there is nothing the matter with blacks. The problem is White Racism...." (I Write, 76)
Biko felt that we need to question what passes for knowledge; to consider who defines the nature and significances of our experiences, hopes and desires; who controls the means of signification and communication such as the media; from what perspectives and towards what ends are the dominant representations geared? Without a questioning spirit, we will remain mesmerized by the "surfaces" of appearances which we will confuse for "reality". Arguably, the most inspirational quality about Biko's critical orientation is that it was not solely directed at the apartheid state. It was just as much, if not more, directed at the daily conduct and socio-political assumptions of individuals and groups in the black community, including those who were dedicated to the opposition of apartheid and the transformation of South African society. In other words, Biko's was deeply self-reflexive and even questioned his own assumptions and those of his fellow travelers. If we take Biko's critical thought on board, then we would acknowledge that as filmmakers, it is not enough to equate our visions and aesthetics with the task of simply capturing 'the reality out there'.
The perennial struggle of any artist is deciding between the choices (be they aesthetic or thematic) that continuously present themselves to us. We do not simply reflect the societies and cultures that inform our works, we do so in ways in which we consciously or unconsciously, select, foreground, ignore, use and misuse the sights, sounds and smells that make up the social fabric around us. It is therefore, important that we remain mindful of the kinds of agendas and strategies - and even bad habits - that we rely on. Similarly, we need to revisit the mantras that we have now come to take for granted. It is incumbent that we clarify what we mean and understand by the notions of communications, culture, development, transformation and freedom. We are not only reporters but interpreters and social actors as well. What we tend to take for granted as reality, culture, aesthetics, identity, nation, freedom of speech, human rights and patriotism (to select just some of the notions that form part of the popular discourse of documentary filmmakers) are phenomena that are much more constructed (rather than natural or given) and contested than what we would ordinarily like to believe. As a result, all these notions can be put to a range of very different personal and social uses that range from the humane and enriching to the fascist and destructive.
The same is true with regard to our commitment to, in the now fashionable phrase, 'speak truth to power'. Biko suggests that in our "continuous struggle for truth, we have to examine and question old concepts, values and systems". (I Write, 92) So if, we are (as we should) compelled to 'speak truth to power' we are equally required to ask ourselves what 'truth'? Whose truth? Directed at which power? Aimed at what audiences? For what purposes? While we would all like to concur that there is truth and untruth, facts and lies, we do not often acknowledge that our understanding, pursuit and championing of our 'truths', 'cultures' and 'rights' is also informed by many other factors, such as the class positions that we occupy, the ideologies that we hold, the ethnicities and nationalities that we are from, the gendered backgrounds that we are socialised under, and so on. Bearing all these variables in mind, then, we, should, as part of our spirit of questioning, take heed of the salutary caution that Biko once expressed: "the biggest mistake the black world ever made was to assume that whoever opposed apartheid was an ally". (I Write, 63). In other words, today, if you hold views that are critical of the post-apartheid South African state it does not necessarily mean that your outlook is informed by a perspective that is also for the poor, the homeless, the refugees and other social groups that are marginalized and subjugated in society.
This tension is regularly apparent in the frequency with which artists - and their colleagues in the Fourth Estate - tend to always emphasise the first generation of human rights (freedom of speech and assembly), while remaining silent about second and third generation human rights (the rights to employment, housing, education, culture, hospitable environment, and so on). I suspect that the reason is that second and third generation human rights challenge us in more uncomfortable ways since, beyond our virtuous and moralistic positions, they demand the consideration of social and economic contradictions that require us to examine our own class privileges and relative access to power. One way in which this tension manifests itself is that when we do undertake work that explores ordinary people's struggles to secure the means of life, we tend to follow too neatly the briefs of the donors and broadcasters who fund or commission our documentaries. It is no wonder than that initiatives and documentaries of this kind have been dismissed as promoting, in Edward Said's words, "the imperialism of virtue"; they are well intentioned 'shock-absorbers' promoted by philanthropic individuals, civic organizations and foundations that, whatever their merits, stop short of deeper analyses and the call for fundamental change. The ideologies espoused are a curious combination of old and new mantras: development and modernization (read westernize and privatize) have now been joined by deregulation, the internet and new media.
If we accept the need to reflect on the complexities of truth, then the same is true for our perceptions of power. We are going through a phase in South Africa where we tend to simplify power as the preserve of the government, power as synonymous with the state. The state is, of course, undoubtedly, the key institution of power within the country but I think it is important that we start to grapple with the nature and intricacies of power in more useful and challenging ways. Again, Biko has much to say on power that is stimulating. Biko was preoccupied with the challenges of how to conscientize and mobilise people so that they - as combative individuals and groups - may actively participate in the changing of South African society into a "completely non-racial and egalitarian society". (I Write, 149) Already aware of the pitfalls of African nationalism, Biko cautioned against "a mere change of face of those in governing positions" that will allow "a few blacks filtering through into the so-called bourgeoisie" while the majority remained poor. (I Write, 149)
A more refined grasp of the workings of power was crucial for Biko because of what he saw as its significance for the nature and demands of personal and social agency or intervention. Consequently, Biko sought to identify the many sites where power is located, the numerous ways in which it manifests itself and the various social groups that wield different kinds of power. Biko did not view power as singular, homogenous or as, inevitably, authoritarian. Instead, he regarded power as a much more complicated and diffuse element of what he called the "system", that is, "those operative forces in society - ...institutionalized and uninstitutionalized...that control your being, guide your behaviour, and generally are an authority over you". (Testimony, 118) Biko's use of the concept of power shares many similarities with Antonio Gramscy's elaboration of hegemony as the "exercise of intellectual and moral leadership". Gramsci regards hegemony as a sophisticated process that involves much more than straight-forward dominance. Whatever the degree of dominance, the authority of the state, for example, is never absolute and complete. As a result, power has to be continuously re-made through the social staging of acts that either rely on the forces of coercion or the construction (and circulation) of consent. This means that the power of the state, considerable and overwhelming as it is may strike us, is never complete or monolithic in its reach and its impact. By extension, the authority and assumptions of the dominant order can be expressed and encountered either as coercion or consent.
When dealing with repressive regimes, the examples of coercion is everywhere and it can easily be noted. What was less appreciated, Biko felt, was the many ways in which "the system" reproduced itself through the creative construction of consent. Of the numerous methods used, Biko emphasized the strategies that either rationalized racial superiority and inferiority as natural and even 'divinely ordained'; or those that shaped our behaviour through recourse to the politics of desire and pleasure. So, for example, if black people equate beauty with 'looking white' than they will use skin lightening creams as it was common in the past. If, today, one subscribes to the ideas that drive materialism and conspicuous consumption - such as 'survival of the fittest' and 'bigger is better' - then you are not likely to be disturbed by the horrors of capitalism. In both cases, because of compliance and agreement with the prevailing values, one contributes to the continuation of the social order. Consequently, Biko argued that citizens (black and white) were complicit, to varying degrees, in the exercise and maintenance of apartheid oppression and exploitation. Elsewhere, for instance, he observed that the "organisational development amongst blacks has only been low because we have allowed it to be". (I Write, 97) In other words, Biko felt that, willingly or grudgingly, knowingly or unknowingly, through our actions or apathy, silence or limited visions, we enable the reproduction of the status quo. If we do nothing or if our views and acts of protest remain locked within the ideological assumptions and economic interests of the prevailing order, then, in that sense, it can be claimed that, even as activists, we legitimize, or give consent, to the authorities and the society that they are overseeing and continuously reinventing. The tension between consent and coercion is in need of serious consideration in contemporary South Africa which has changed from being a repressive and racist capitalist state to being a democratic constitutional state whose capitalism continues to be structured in racial dominance in many social and economic spheres.
Following on from his argument about the layered nature of power, Biko proceeded to examine where and what other forms of power may be located and exercised outside of the usual parameters of the institutions of government. In order to elucidate the spread of authority, Biko explored how the state, interacts, firstly, with other sites of influence (such as the economy) and, secondly, with the wide range of social relationships that play themselves out between races, genders, religions and so on. He admitted that "the fact that apartheid has been tied up with white supremacy, capitalist exploitation and deliberate oppression makes the problem much more complex". (I Write, 27-28) Today, these intricate networks of power that lie outside the jurisdiction of the new South African state can either consolidate or contest the state's ability to rule effectively to the benefit of the majority of its citizens.
A quick application of Biko's analysis of power in the terrain of culture will attest to the validity of his assertions. For instance, it is commonly accepted that economic power in most countries in the South is controlled by a few wealthy individuals, companies and trans-national corporations that, in their operations, are dedicated to the advance of capitalism and imperialism. In this country, the newspaper, film, publishing, performance and music industries are under the effective control of English and Afrikaner conglomerates that, in line with the pursuit of profit, promote the saliency of whiteness under the banner of 'universality', 'standards' and globalization. Whiteness refers to the promotion of cultural values, aesthetic practices and notions of pleasure that are drawn from the North or the white community and are then presented as the norm that everyone should practice and aspire to. Drawing attention to the perils of whiteness does not absolve us from debating the challenges that we face, not only with regard to content, but to style and aesthetics.
How appealing, effective and informative are the documentaries that we produce, not in terms of their noble themes but with regard to the aesthetic choices made with regards to the use of character, English or indigenous languages, narrative structure, camera work, composition, montage, music, use of human and archival sources, and so on. As some of you are tired of hearing me say, the aesthetic choices that we make are not all predicated on the amount of money or budget that is at our disposal. Money is at the very least useful but is never a creative resource - it will facilitate (and even complicate) the conditions of production but, in my experience, money is not the sole determinant of good production values! Also, as you know, in my opinion it is not only naïve but wrong to try and create a toss up between content and form in terms of which one is "more important". I'll repeat two of my favourite anecdotes with regard to the inextricable link between form and content.: Samora Machel is supposed to have told the National Choir of Mozambique that "to sing badly is to commit a political error" and then there is Bertolt Brecht's sharp observation that "works that are aesthetically defective end up being politically defective".
We also need to carefully ponder the politics of whiteness with regard to the current celebrations of the notions of identity, hybridity, diversity and globalisation. Biko was adamant that "being black is not a matter of pigmentation" (I Write, 48), "blackness", in opposition to whiteness, was a "reflection of a mental attitude" and its advocacy of ethnic solidarity was based on the common experiences of discrimination and exploitation. (I Write, 48) Before 1994, one of the slogans of resistance was that "apartheid divides" and now we glibly extol the virtues of "managing diversity" while we retreat into ill-defined laagers of what we have come to assume to be our different cultures and identities. Such responses, in my opinion, seem to be rarely motivated by a genuine desire to proclaim and celebrate our specific cultures and identities ('in' and 'for' themselves and with due respect, not just tolerance, for other cultures, as Biko insisted). Instead, identity politics come across as tactical moves, especially amongst the elite, to broker new constituencies of power and access to material resources. One way to measure the faultlines of our 'new' ethnicities is the frequency they are accompanied by the dictates of tribal and political aristocracies and patriarchies that are increasing their violence and subjugation of women, often motivated, they tell us, by their respect and deference to 'culture'.
As far as globalization is concerned, the questions that Biko asked in relation to 'integration' are worthy of serious consideration. Biko felt that "the concept of integration...is full of unquestioned assumptions that embrace white values". (I Write, 91) In response to the query whether he was against 'integration' Biko argued that "if by integration you understand...an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behaviour set up and maintained by whites, then yes I am against it". (I Write, 24) A similar interrogation is required of the unquestioned assumptions that inform the 'integration of economies' and 'cultures' in the current phase of globalization. (I say current since black intellectuals have identified slavery and the 'scramble for Africa' in 1884 as examples of earlier phases of globalization). At any rate, what are the social forces and interests behind globalization? Given its reliance on the intensive and extensive access to capital and technology - as film and media practitioners you know this fact - does globalization make us dependent on those who control access to funding and facilities? Does globalization inscribe us as producers or consumers of other people's products and content? Is it not basically the Americanization of the world with the occasional cut-and-paste of so-called 'foreign' cultures for the exotic desires, effects and consumption, as in the case of 'world music and cinema' by so-called cosmopolitan audiences? We should not, on the general level, ignore the paradox that in as much as the world has become 'smaller' and 'borders porous', the calls for debt relief for economies that are held hostage by the G8, IMF and the World Bank, the increasing numbers of displaced people as a result wars meant to 'defend democracy', the tightening of immigration laws, the proliferation of countries with nuclear capacities, global warming, and many other developments, all these development demand a more sober engagement with the pros and cons of globalization. Biko, on integration on the local and international economic levels, suggested that "if on the other hand by integration you mean there shall be free participation by all members of society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people, then I am with you." (I Write, 24) There are, then, cultural, economic and political bonds (and responsibilities as I will discuss later), of a global nature, that can bind us in ways that enhance our collective experiences, desires and hopes as humanity.
Biko was aware that culture, like power, also required a considered and multi-pronged analytical approach because of the historical intricacies that inform the particular development of any culture. In response, Biko's analysis relied on a dual emphasis. On the one hand, Biko highlighted that colonisation involved the distortion, disfiguring and denigration of indigenous cultures together with the creation of "a bastardised culture that can only thrive at the rate and pace allowed it by the dominant culture". (I Write 29, 46) On the other hand, Biko maintained that despite its impact, colonialism did not amount to the total obliteration of indigenous culture and we can still find "fundamental aspects" of African culture. (I Write, 41) One such "fundamental aspect" that Biko was at pains to highlight again and again was that African society was "Man-centred" and premised on "the inherent goodness of man"; it promoted the "sacred tradition of sharing" and living in community as brothers and sisters. These qualities, for Biko, were in stark contrast to the promotion of individualism, competition, materialism and the "triumph of technology over man" that he associated with Western societies. (I Write, 41-42, 70) Given the convoluted history and social imperatives (with their attendant tendencies to either disparage or romanticise African culture), Biko insisted that African culture "must be defined in concrete terms. We must relate the past to the present and demonstrate an historical evolution of the modern Africa". (I Write, 70) Furthermore, we must "reject the attempts of the powers that be to project an arrested image of our culture" (I Write, 70) because "Black culture implies above all freedom on our part to innovate without recourse to white values. This innovation is part of the natural development of any culture". (I Write, 96)
Now Biko's premises on the layered-nature of power, led him to analyse not only the structures of society but also the equally significant role of consciousness in hindering or aiding our abilities to become active agents in the our personal and social lives. Biko argued that "the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed". (I Write, 68) As a result, Biko was fascinated with the need to overcome 'the psychology of oppression' or what he called "the roots of self-negation" (Testimony, 19, I Write, 21) Biko felt that black people had "developed a ...state of alienation" because of their internalization of the structural (economic), psychological and cultural violence of whiteness. The acceptance of whiteness led black and white South Africans to associate "all that is good" (in terms culture, progress and civilization) with the West (Testimony, 22-23) and, in contrast, to associate African history and culture with all that is superstitious, 'primitive' and 'uncivilized'. If blacks did not subscribe to the false values of whiteness, then the constant subjection of blacks to experiences of repression and violence served to make them acquiesce to the authorities and their condition. The logic was simple: "if you cannot make a man respect you, then make him fear you". (I Write, 31) What was troubling to Biko was that if blacks suffered "from an inferiority complex" then "they will be useless as co-architects of a normal society". In order for blacks to "learn to assert themselves" (I Write, 21), to regain their dignity, self-respect and social agency, "the first step...is to pump back life into an empty shell" (I Write, 29) and "infuse the black community with a new-found pride in themselves, their efforts, their value systems, their culture, their religion and their outlook to life". (I Write, 49") Biko advocated a "modern culture. A culture of defiance, self-assertion and group pride and solidarity". (I Write, 46)
Now self-definition, assertion and pride also require that in as much as we must defy whiteness, our defiance should not be at the expense of making work that adds to the knowledge and celebrations of ourselves. Too often we are more preoccupied with unmasking the 'west' than engaging in the processes of retrieving, reconstruction, acknowledging and charting the immense indigenous knowledge, cultural repertoires and artistic traditions that can enrich our work, senses of self and cultures.
In a sense, then, and in line with his elaboration of coercion and consent, Biko challenges us to realise that we do have power as individuals, as groups and as communities. However limited the choices and power that we may have, it is crucial that we acknowledge that there is a measure of power that we can and do deploy in our domestic and public spheres. With regards to all the oppression and exploitation that we face, Biko insists that "we must accept that the limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress". (I Write, 90) As far as our visions are concerned, we have the power to instill compassionate and progressive human values in our homes, communities and the world at large; and to conduct ourselves and our relationships in ways that are not racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. If we do not actively strive towards the meaningful betterment of life for all then Biko is adamant that we should be reminded of our "complicity" in allowing authority to "misuse" us and "letting evil reign supreme". (I Write, 29)
Biko goes further and uses Karl Jasper notion of metaphysical guilt to argue that we have an ethical responsibility to each other in the world, that we cannot remain ignorant or indifferent to other people's suffering; that "there exists amongst men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world and especially for crimes that are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant. If I do not do what ever I can to prevent them, I am in accomplice with them...." (I Write, 78) In line with our responsibilities to each other Biko encouraged the development of "a solid base for meaningful co-operation...in the larger battle of the Third World against the rich nations". (I Write, 71) He observed that "we rely on not only on our own strength but also on the belief that the rest of the world views the oppression and blatant exploitation of the black majority by a minority as an unforgiveable sin that cannot be pardoned by civilised societies". (I Write, 71-72)
Biko, as we know, lived by his principles to the full. He said that "we must remove from our vocabulary completely the concept of fear" (I Write, 35), whether it be the "fear of authority" (Testimony, 290) or the fear of death. He felt that "a struggle without casualties is no struggle (I Write, 97) and that "you are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can't care anyway". (I Write, 152) Of the many gifts that he left us, I would like to conclude by reminding you of a task that he championed repeatedly and one that we are still to fulfill. Biko crystallized and, in a sense, summarized, all his hopes in the following call for equality, justice and compassion: "Let us march forward with courage and determination, drawing strength from our common plight and our brotherhood [and sisterhood]. In time we shall be in a position to bestow upon South Africa [and the world] the greatest gift possible - a more human face". (I Write, 98, 47)
Professor of African Literature
School of Literature and Language Studies
Private Bag 3
* The quotations from Biko are drawn from the following texts: Steve Biko, edited by Aelred Stubbs C.R., I Write What I Like (London: Heinemann, 1984) and Steve Biko, edited by Millard Arnold, The Testimony of Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa (London: Panther Books, 1979).
Posted by DFA at 11/15/2007
14 November 2007
On Wednesday 21st November 2007 at 3pm the Joburg branch of the DFA will be meeting with Sean Flynn of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) affiliated to the Washington College of Law. If you have time on the day and would like to join us, please feel free. We will be meeting with Sean at Underdog: 92 Third Avenue, Melville, JHB. Please see Sean’s email, below:
I am here from American University's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) for a project we are beginning analyzing the use of "fair dealing" and other flexibilities in copyright law by documentary filmmakers.(…) This project arises out of work that PIJIP has been doing with AU's Center for Social Media to
expand the utility of the balancing features of copyright—the features that permit people who are making new work to use copyrighted material without permission or payment in some circumstances. In the U.S., the project led to the creation of a Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use (available at www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/fairuse_publicmedia.cfm). PIJIP and CSM are now working with the Ford Foundation to explore the extent to which some of the lessons and methodologies that have been successful in the U.S. may be useful to users, advocates and scholars in other countries. We are beginning by focusing on the countries
with "fair dealing" provisions modeled on British law.
South Africa 's longest running film festival, the Durban International Film Festival has announced that its 29th edition will take place from 23 July to 3 August 2008.
Once again the festival will present over 300 screenings of films from around the world, with a special focus on films from South African and Africa. Screenings will take place throughout Durban including township areas where cinemas are non-existent. The festival also offers a seminar and workshop programme featuring local and international filmmakers. The festival calls for entries from around the world. Feature films, short films and documentaries are all welcome. The festival does have a competition component. The deadline for entries is 31 March 2008 for short films and documentaries; 15 April 2008 for feature films. Early submissions are encouraged.
The entry form is available in HTML here .
An entry form in Word can be downloaded from the website
For more information visit: www.cca.ukzn.ac.za
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 (0)31 260 2506.
Stills from 'Free Energy'
DFA member, Jacqueline van Meygaarden, has been selected with her film ‘Free Energy’ to receive a prize in the Commonwealth Vision Awards 2007. She was selected as one of 8 applicants to receive a grant to make a short film based on the Commonwealth theme ‘Changing Communities, Greening the Globe. Her 90 second film promotes solar energy in poor communities and she will go to London to receive one of the top 3 three prizes at the Gala Awards on the 6th December 2007. To read more about the competition, click here .
Arya Lalloo’s article offers an incisive account of the issues at hand at this year's People to People International Documentary Conference
A CONTRADICTION IN A CONTRADICTION
By Arya Lalloo
For three days in September this year, the South African documentary fraternity hosted its peers at the country’s first dedicated documentary conference.
The People to People International Documentary Conference, held at Atlas Studios in on the outskirts of Johannesburg, primarily aimed to concretise the ephemeral, but often invoked alliance of the “Global South” and was premised on an apparently common preoccupation around who tells whose story.
The conference’s organisers noted that there is “a global tide responsible for demonising and polarising peoples the world over” and that “documentary filmmaking in the South can stem this tide”.
In effect the conference also highlighted contradictions within the various, and variously, marginalised voices of this alliance that attempts to cover the greater part of the globe.
The idea of a great global north-south dichotomy came to a head in a session dedicated to unpacking the American documentary ‘The Devil Came on Horseback’.
Connie Field, the only American at the conference, sat on a panel alongside Dr. Martin Mhando (Tanzania/Australia), Newton Aduaka (Nigeria/UK), Ryan Fortune (South Africa) and Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda (Democratic Republic of Congo/France).
The African delegates took issue with the tailoring of the story for mass audience appeal and the necessary simplifications of this format.
Field agreed with many of the critiques of the film, admitting that much of the politics around the conflict, with which the African delegates were familiar, were not delved into by the filmmakers (who, she revealed, had put the film together without ever themselves having been to Darfur).
Probed about the problematic nature of much of “Northern” representations of the South, Field said: “Well I agree with that, but what we’re faced with is a contradiction, lots of films get made that way, for example ‘Blood Diamond’, I mean you have to have the Leonardo Di Caprio character, ‘The Constant Gardner’ and others, and then there is the difficulty of getting African Films seen in America, which is a really big problem.
“We sit with that contradiction, should you never make a ‘Blood Diamond’, should you never make a ‘Constant Gardener’, should you never make a ‘Devil came on Horseback?’ I would say you should make it, and again people have to fight for their space, and people here need to fight internationally to get that space so that the perspective can get created and seen, so though I conceptually agree, I think we operate inside this contradiction.”
Various other sessions at the conference however made it clear that not everyone in the South is equally up to this fight and that the contradictions between the hemispheres is replicated amongst the voices of the South.
The South African conference delegates, at the helm of the so-called African Renaissance, were challenged about their vaunted role in this rebirth and the implicit assumption of unanimity despite the vastly differing conditions that affect documentary filmmaking in the “South”.
One session in particular - a screening and discussion of the highly contested 1966 Italian film ‘Africa Addio’, elicited a whole new controversy.
Session chair Jean-Pierre Bekolo, an award winning Cameroonian filmmaker and academic, provoked the largely young black South African audience with the notion that the film’s patently racist representation of African people in the wake of decolonisation seems somewhat premonitory, in light of the continents various post-colonial atrocities.
The delegates seemed to ignore this “African” issue and steered the discussion towards black identity issues, citing the popularity of hip- hop, black booty and dreadlocks as signs that liberation has been successful in their world.
“When I talk to young Cameroonians,” retorted Bekolo, “they complain that they want roads and electricity” This dialogue seemed to substantiate Bekolo’s provocation that Apartheid might have been good for South Africa - a sentiment he says is common amongst other African communities.
“If Rwanda, Liberia, Zimbabwe and Darfur are examples of the colonial master project gone wrong, then South Africa’s ‘colonialism of a special type’ is an example of it working,” challenged Bekolo.
Other Africans interrogate the exception that is South Africa’s western development, yet young South Africa prioritises continental solidarity in a unanimous vision led by itself. “Black identity is currency now” said a young commissioning editor for the SABC, the continents most powerful public broadcaster.
The session ended before anyone could mention that a significant segment of the South African population also concerns itself more with access to electricity and running water than identity politics.
The wholesale transformation of southern crises into cultural currency is what sparked the conference, with its tide-stemming premise, to begin with. The contradictions illuminated through three days of, often, heated debate are significant to this aim and effectively demonstrate the importance of the new-born event and it’s future.
Posted by DFA at 11/14/2007