The DFA was established in 2007 to promote and protect the interests of doc filmmakers in South Africa. To contact the DFA, please use the contact form: here . The DFA website is at: Membership applications can be made through the website here.

25 November 2007

The silly season comes to Joburg

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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.



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.

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Vukas 2


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:


Against the background of the dire financial situation in which the Sithengi Film and TV Market has been placed (see 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.

Gauteng Film

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
information flows
*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
* research
* logistics support
* funding and financing
* talent
* scriptwriting
* media
* 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

Working Arrangements:

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, 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.

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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


The  Team

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.

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