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.

14 November 2007

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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:

Dear DFA
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 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:
Email or call +27 (0)31 260 2506.

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Stills from 'Free Energy'

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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

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.

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