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.

11 June 2008




The Fundamentals Training Centre in Cape Town will be running a range of short courses that have been developed to be completely relevant and practical to the local film and television industry. Knowledge and skills acquired on these courses can be immediately applied to the working world.

PROPOSAL WRITING (Cost: R900) 3 days
Over 3 sessions of group and individual work, attendees will be guided through the whole proposal writing process from idea to concept to fully worked up document.
Dates: 23, 25, 27 June OR 3, 4, 7 July 2008

RESEARCH FOR TV (Cost: R600) 2 days
Many aspirant filmmakers join the industry as researchers, but few understand what the job is all about. On this course attendees will learn what it takes to be a great TV researcher and learn skills that they can use throughout their career.
Dates: 15, 17 July 2008

A highly practical course, focusing mainly on production management and co-ordination systems for those working on features, drama series and commercials. It will also be relevant for those who wish to sharpen their skills for tv work.
Dates: 25 -29 July 2008

ASSISTANT DIRECTING (Cost: R1500) 5 days
Learn the skills and knowledge required to be a second assistant director - script breakdowns, call sheets, scheduling as well as on-set work and the required people skills.

If you are interested in attending please email Jemima Spring:, or contact FTC directly on 021 421 8577 or

The Fundamentals Training Centre
5th Floor, 50-On-Long,
Cnr Long and Hout Street,
Cape Town



JOINING THE DOTS TV is a completely new documentary channel. It uses the power of broadband to bring the world’s most interesting documentaries on-demand, direct to you.

The following is extracted from the Joining the Dots TV site:

We don’t believe that the world divides into discrete islands of knowledge. We think that you need to join the dots to get a full picture. Whatever you’re interested in finding out more about, politics, culture, war, art, the way we live today, the way others live, you can start to fit the jigsaw together here.

Arranged into strands, rather than bland genres, treat us as you would a documentary film festival and stick around when the director stands up at the front of the cinema to ask for questions (in our regular Q&A sessions). Or think of us as a really good dinner party - the films will tell you something you never knew about the world, but we also hope they’ll act like the press-cutting your best friend’s boyfriend brought out to prove, before you’ve finished your starters, that George W Bush is the best president the US has ever seen (he’ll be patiently listening to your spirited replies in our Forums, coming soon).

We will be adding between 5 and 10 new titles per month. One of these titles will be specially selected for a UK nation-wide theatrical release through our alliance with Picture Houses, Britain’s leading Art House Cinema Chain. We already have our first Oscar winning title scheduled for release June 2008.

We’re also documentary lovers, just like you. So if you think our personal foibles are too present in the site, that our categorisation is a mess or just that you like what you see and want more of the same, let us know. Drop Jason a line to - – and let him know your thoughts.


Before you submit programmes for consideration, please ensure:

• You own the relevant rights for the documentary and are legally permitted to enter into an agreement licensing them to us to show in most territories. Don’t worry if you can’t licence the film world-wide as we can geo-filter out territories where it can’t be seen.
• All video and music is cleared to enable you to show the documentary in a broadband environment for a minimum of one year.
• You can provide a DVD or a digibeta copy of the programme that we can encode and upload to our site.
• Your film will fit into one of our strands: Life And Death; Another World; Our New Society; Future Of Change; Forgotten History; A Different Love; The New Politics; Hidden Lives.
• Your film has a point of view, a narrative thread, and is accessible.
We work non-exclusively, which allows you to place your production on similar sites and our geo-filtering technology provides flexibility in the exploitation of your film. If your documentary is chosen, we will pay you a royalty of the net receipts we receive.

To submit a documentary, please send an email with a synopsis of the film to He will get straight back to you. Alternatively call Jason McGeown on: 00 44 20 7221 7221

films to watch



The Unwinking Gaze offers a unique, behind-the-scenes insight into the recent working life of Tibet’s would-be saviour and revered world icon the Dalai Lama.

This documentary was filmed over a period of three years with exceptional access showing the daily agonies of the Tibetan leader as he tries to strike a balance between his Buddhist vows and the realpolitik needed to placate China. David and Goliath is played out in front of us as the world’s emerging superpower and the Dalai Lama walk a tightrope over an issue of global importance.

The Unwinking Gaze is not 3 years in the life of the Dalai. It is his life’s work in 3 years. This film takes you inside the Titanic struggle of one of the great spiritual and political figures of our time, as he tries to lead his people to a peaceful resolution with China.


Joshua Dugdale, director of the film, explains his motivation:

I had seen a number of films on the Dalai Lama, but I felt they didn’t show who he really was. It seemed that he was being wheeled out for the cameras, for stage managed set pieces. Knowing that the rhetoric from Beijing claimed that the Dalai Lama was a canny political operator, intent on conning the West into backing his efforts to split off Tibet and weaken China, I wondered whether there was a way of showing his actions and reactions on camera. I hoped to be able to reveal his true intentions and character and I wanted to create a film, which would show the real world of the ‘splittist’ Dalai Lama so that those in power in Beijing might be able to make more informed decisions about how they deal with him. With such an enigmatic figure, the only way to achieve this was to treat him like any other politician, showing the world he inhabits and the challenges he faces. The result is extraordinarily rare access into the world of one of the great spiritual leaders of our time.


Q: Is the Dalai Lama sincere?

A: You need to watch the film to make up your own mind on this. The Dalai Lama has said in public that he doesn’t want independence over one hundred times, including reiterating it every year since 1987 in his annual March 10th Statement. However the Chinese believe that this is just a plot to enable him to return before permitting his people to declare independence. Many Tibetan exiles do want independence (see and, it could be argued allow the hard-line members of the Chinese in government to argue that independence is the end game of the Dalai Lama. As to whether he is a potential partner for the Chinese, the one thing you can say is that despite being very unsuccessful in his strategy, he still has unswerving support among his people. If any Tibetan can bring the people in line, it is the Dalai Lama.

Q: How important is the Dalai Lama to China?

A: There can be little doubt that the Dalai Lama is a very significant figure not just in Tibet. There are believed to be more than 100m Buddhists in China, all of whom would have great respect for the Dalai Lama. There also seems to be a growing demand for spirituality generally in China, which coming from a low base after the Culutral Revolution, would mean that the Dalai Lama would automatically become the main religious and spiritual leader in China. It is this, which has historically been one of the key reasons for the Chinese government’s fear that there will be sources outside of the Communist party, which will be difficult to control. A classic example is the persecution not only of the Tibetan Buddhists but also of Falung Gong. Whether the Dalai Lama would have a positive or negative effect to China is an interesting question. Understanding his core values it would be hard to imagine how his presence would have a negative effect for China. Whether the same could be said about his effect on the Communist party is a different question.

Q: What can both sides do to move the talks on?

A: The first step would be to publicly acknowledge that there is a dialogue. In order for the process to move forward, a framework needs to be created for discussions. The Chinese government would therefore have to come forward and say publicly that there is an issue, which needs to be resolved. Currently they refuse to acknowledge that there is any issue worthy of discussion. However as news pours out of Tibet under the current civil unrest, news media in China has acknowledged what is going on (see There is a great deal of uncertainty as a result but it will be hard for the government to deny that there is an issue. The Dalai Lama’s envoys are currently considered to be ‘tourists’, and the Dalai Lama is still a ‘Splittist’ who is continuously engaging in activities aimed at weakening China. These public pronouncements would need to change.

Q: Post Dalai Lama - What will happen if the Dalai Lama dies in exile?

A: Again practically, the political leadership and cabinet – the Kashag and the Prime Minister, will take the lead role in deciding policy. There will automatically be a vacuum if the current Dalai Lama says he is going to reincarnate, however there are others who will step into the role. The likelihood is that there will be considerable fragmentation and instability as a result of his death which could result in firstly a weaker Tibetan Freedom Movement (not Independence Movement) but more likely to be some fringe radical groups who will start to think about changing their allegiance to non-violence. The Chinese may decide to repeat the Panchen Lama strategy of imprisoning the Tibetan chosen reincarnation of the Panchen Lama and impose their own choice. This is unlikely to unite the Tibetan population behind their rule and will almost certainly decrease their legitimacy.

Q: How effective are the West in allying to his cause?

A: Ostensibly not much. Most western powers are in thrall to the Chinese due to the size of the market in China, so China is in a very strong position economically and politically. Their role on the UN and the importance of keeping them on side for issues that have been higher up the international agenda such as Darfur or the Middle East, means that Tibet, for almost 20 years has never been a deal breaker when it comes to relations with the West. However up until now there has been a continuous drip, drip of pressure which causes embarrassment to the Chinese and will always be a thorn in their attempts to be seen as the legitimate government in Tibet.

Q: What is the Dalai Lama's legacy?

A: The Dalai Lama is one of the great figures of the 20th and 21st Century. He has won the Nobel Peace Prize and countless other awards. He has sold books to an international audience and sells out in stadiums across the world who seek to benefit from his teachings. On his watch, he has presided over a significant increase in the practice of Buddhism globally over a century when religious practice in China, the largest Buddhist country in the world has been subject to substantial persecution. He has also been the global face of the Non-Violence movement, which in itself is an extraordinary legacy. However in terms of his success over achieving a negotiated settlement over his homeland of Tibet, he has up until this point failed in his key objectives.

Q: The Olympics - Should the Chinese invite him without conditions?

A: This is a key question that we are asking as a result of the film. Some believe that the Dalai Lama attending the Olympics would be a PR coup for the Chinese and would mean that they would continue to do nothing after the Olympics. Others believe that it would be a necessary pre-condition to showing a softening in the position of the Chinese towards the Dalai Lama, paving the way for meaningful discussion post Olympics. No matter what, it would be an extraordinary moment that would be difficult for the Dalai Lama to turn down. See the Dalai Lama’s March the 10th Statement for the up-to-date position of the Dalai Lama on the Olympics.

To read more about The Unwinking Gaze, visit the film's website.

films to watch




Wearing the One Button Suit is a glimpse at the somewhat hidden and defiantly hardy Scottish naturist scene. Filming involved over forty naturists from various clubs, but focuses mainly on four very different characters who tell their personal experiences. There's Donald, the hardy loch skinny-dipper; Paul, the cheeky chappie who is always up for a laugh; Maitland, the single naturist hoping to find love; and Jinty, the rough diamond who tells it to you straight. The aim is to show these naturists in a straightforward light. They are just normal folk who enjoy going to barbeques, playing volleyball and hosting dinner parties, the only difference is that they prefer to do their socialising in the nude. This is an entertaining documentary which at long last allows naturists an unprejudiced forum to talk freely about their passion. It also shows the fun you can have whilst wearing the one button suit.

What could possibly induce a Scot to brave the cold and strip off outdoors? The answer in this documentary seems to be the same things that make anyone become a naturist. We meet a group of characters who enjoy their bodies and aren't afraid to go around without clothes, and can't understand why anyone could mind. Refreshing, fun and kind-hearted.

To watch the full documentary, go to Joining The Dots TV

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