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.

22 October 2008



On 9 October 2008 the DFA launched a regular documentary screening slot at the Labia Cinema in Orange Street, Cape Town. This has been due to a request from the DFA membership and is an initiative that we hope can be made sustainable by building a dedicated, enthusiastic doc audience.

We hope to bring you a great selection of local and international films on a daily basis. Films will screen in a variety of time slots for two weeks. We will also run special one-week programmes with debate and forums that respond to topical issues.

The DocLOVE initiative began with a screening of work by the FILMMAKERS’ AGAINST RACISM collective.

Regular screenings are R25, and R20 if you’re a DFA member (Membership cards to follow)

We’d like this initiative to grow … So tell your 10 best friends, your extended family and your 5000 virtual friends too!

Yours truly
(* Don Edkins, Theresa Meyer, Dylan Valley & Miki Redelinghuys – more volunteers welcome)



NomadakTX (NOMAD)
now screening at The Labia Cinema
17-30 October
14h45 & 20h30 daily

NOMADAK TX tells the story of two musicians moving. They travel with the Txalaparta, a unique musical instrument that is played by two people. They arrive in India, Lapland, the Sahara and Mongolia to fuse their music with that of remote nomadic people. They cross frozen wastelands and deserts, on horseback in the mountains of Mongolia, and by train in the west of India…They travel in search of sounds. And they find them in other nations, in other surroundings, in other cultures. In other people that, like them, they use the music to say to the rest of the world:

We are here, we are alive, we are who we are.

Directed By: Raúl de la Fuente
EXEC PRODS: Igor Otxoa, Pablo Iraburu
PROD: Igor Otxoa
SCR: Raúl de la Fuente, Pablo Iraburu, Harkaitz Martinez, Igor
CAM/ED: Raúl de la Fuente
MUS: Oreka Tx, Harkaitz Martinez
[NOMAD] Nonfiction Features of 2007
Basque, 2006, 86 min, 35mm

Awards Include

2nd Place Top 20
of 20 years of IDFA

Best Music Documentary

Winner Audience Award

More about the film
Basque percussionists Igor Otxoa and Harkaitz Martinez de San Vicente are masters of the txalapatra, an ancient percussion instrument they are seen hewing out of wood in the film's opening moments. It's a big, splendid construction, whose resonance and articulation, combined with the percussionist's often dazzling virtuosity, are the reassuringly solid and tactile basis of Raúl de la Fuente’s world-spanning film, which manages to look as good as it sounds. Travelling through India, Lapland, Mongolia, Algeria and the Sahara the musicians and their crew are engaging, respectful and not above letting themselves look out of place or silly—setting up to play for a group of Lapland's Sami people outside of a church they are as amused as we are when the colourfully clad parishioners stroll indifferently past their impromptu concert. In each location the musicians not only interact with the people they meet, but with the landscape itself, building versions of their instruments out of the materials at hand--including ice and rock.

The sequence in which the team construct a txalapatra out of ice is simultaneously funny (the camera and mike keep getting in the way--its a crowded ice cave), suspenseful (it could all shatter at any second), and finally rather moving--when the spectral instrument is finally struck (with another piece of ice) it sounds exactly as it should--cold and clear but mellow, a victory over transience. Already outsiders in contemporary Spain, the players are clearly aware of the fragility of the world's "marginal" cultures, but rather than preach preservation they act it out, with ear and eye-filling results.

Visit the film’s website here


Many holes in the SABC plot
If the SABC were a listed company, its shareholders would have abandoned it long ago. A culture of wasteful expenditure, misappropriation of funds, theft and rocketing costs appears to have become entrenched — and the auditors had to issue a qualified report on the latest financials. In addition, the numbers came out in the annual report three months later than those of most companies with a March year-end.

By Matebello Motloung

Despite a revenue increase for the year to end-March 2008 of 9% to R4,7bn — barely above inflation — total expenses have shot up 14% to R4,6bn.

Most glaring is the 854% (R76,2m) increase in the impairment of rights for programming such as film and sports. This was due to programmes being purchased, but then not broadcast within the period required by contract. Yet SABC chief financial officer Robin Nicholson says no-one has been held directly accountable for this.

It indicates a serious lack of planning at the heart of what the SABC does. Nicholson is frank: “What is required of the SABC is to better manage its inventory.”

Most companies would regard a qualified report as a disgrace. The auditors couldn’t find evidence to substantiate costs of R1,5bn or the accumulated amortisation of R1,2bn relating to freelancers and sports programmes, to name just two areas.

Another worrying trend is the SABC’s high and increasing expenditure on consulting fees. During 2006/2007, these shot up 187% from R47m to R135m. This year, they rose by 68% to R226m.

Corridor talk at Auckland Park is that there are many employees who literally do nothing all day — which would explain the reliance on outside contractors. “Wasteful” expenditure stood at R40,6m, relating to “reckless” spending not accounted for.

Profits for the year to end-March 2008 fell by a huge 83% from R222m to an embarrassing R38,4m.

On the surface, the picture looks impressive — a profit of R314,6m before tax. But this is due to the inclusion of a R421m pension fund surplus, a one-off event. The total is brought down by a cost of R144,5m to fund post retirement medical aid revaluation and a R89,4m contribution to the pension fund.

With the absence of the handsome pension surplus, the picture for next year is set to look even more dire. Operating profit has already fallen 39% to R111,3m from R183m.

Theft and fraud are still a major problem at the SABC. It was swindled out of R2,5m, of which R177 000 has been written off. The good news is that this is substantially lower than the previous year’s R11m.

The corporation is facing litigation from, among others, the Public Investment Corporation, which is claiming R377m regarding a cancelled lease agreement; and a R140m suit from Trustco pertaining to a wireless agreement for a game show.

Suspended CEO Dali Mpofu’s failure last year to secure the cash-spinning Premier Soccer League broadcasting rights has resulted in a 9% drop in sponsorship revenue. That blunder has resulted in a decrease in live broadcast sports events. Last year sponsorship contributed to R568m in the SABC’s commercial income.

Mpofu was first suspended in May for alleged incompetence, mismanagement of funds, and putting the SABC at risk of going into the red.

Among other charges are: making payments of R145m between April 2006 and March 2007 without contracts, and signing an unauthorised R330m contract with Siemens.

Mpofu successfully contested his suspension in June, only to be suspended again the same month. He has yet to appear before a disciplinary hearing.

And because parliament cannot fire a board member, he still attends board meetings.

For the second consecutive year, the SABC’s poor financial performance is not mirrored in Mpofu’s salary, which has increased by 19,7% to R4,5m. He received a bonus of R2,1m during the year, 47,3% higher than last year’s R1,4m - despite his suspension in May.

The SABC’s funding model continues to be a nightmare. The broadcaster is heavily reliant on advertising revenue, a historical reality it would like to change. It believes reducing its dependence on commercial revenue would give it more freedom to attend to its public service mandate.

Whether it is capable of this is another issue. It will need substantial government funding to strike a balance. But the corporation’s pleas for increased government grants have fallen on deaf ears.

Government subsidy accounts for only 2% (R75m) of the SABC’s revenue, a drop in the ocean compared with the R3,6bn income the group receives from commercial streams. State funding for 2007/2008 fell by 10,7% from R84m.

During the year under review, the SABC spent R152m in direct collection activities — including hiring debt collectors — to gather R822m (up 8%) in television licence revenue. TV licences make up 17% of the group’s income.

The SABC’s funding model and the challenges this presents will be discussed at a funding conference scheduled for November 3 and 4.

Attendees will include government, labour and SABC management.

The meeting will also discuss additional funding to enable the SABC to switch to digital broadcasting next year. The broadcaster received R132m from the department of communications to invest in technology assets, down R5m from the previous year.

“The challenges facing the SABC are significant and will place the funding mechanism of the SABC under pressure,” Nicholson warns. “The SABC will not be able to commit further resources to digital terrestrial television until the funding challenges have been addressed.”

Another issue the SABC will have to deal with in the next financial year is the increased human-resource cost to the organisation. This is partly due to attempts to retain skilled staff, especially now with new TV players on the horizon. Nicholson says the level of cost growth “is problematic. Any major cost management strategy will have to address the continued increase in head-count costs.”

It is imperative that the SABC, which has also been plagued by internal politics and low staff morale, gets its house in order if it’s to avoid going into the red. The market in which it operates is changing drastically.

There’s the threat of new pay-TV operators, which will most certainly steal audiences and therefore advertising as well, so the advertising pie which has sustained the SABC so far is set to shrink.

Courtesy of FMTech

Some folks at the SABC are sitting uncomfortably as this interview, broadcast 21.10.08, suggests.


THE FORUM is Europe's largest gathering of filmmakers, television commissioning editors and independent documentary producers. The aim of the FORUM is to stimulate co-financing and co-production of new documentaries by enabling producers to pitch their project concepts to the assembled commissioning editors and other professionals, and to follow up through individual meetings.


DON EDKINS of Day Zero (pictured above) has had his documentary project Sunrise, Sunset selected for The Forum. This is the only South African project at this particular event.



The European Film Academy annually honours an outstanding achievement in European documentary filmmaking with the Prix ARTE. The Academy has announced that the 2008 Prix ARTE award goes to the film René by Helena Trestikova from Czech Republic.



This raw authentic documentary film tells the story of René whose life was being captured on camera since he was seventeen. The camera followed his hopeless journey between prison and brief periods outside the prison walls. In 2008 the film comes to an end, leaving the now 37-year-old René as a sick man who still gets in trouble with the law and who is also the author of two published books. Director Helena Třeštíková records René's personal developments against the backdrop of significant political transformations taking place in Central Europe.

René's story begins in prison under socialist posters, continues through the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989 and gets a seemingly happy conclusion with the amnesty decree issued by President Václav Havel. Yet René soon heads back to prison and also celebrated our EU accession from behind the bars. During the years spent in prison - sentenced mainly for theft - René had his whole body covered in tattoos, escaped from prison only to be soon recaptured, burgled the director's home, was involved in a couple of romantic relationships, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as well as a high IQ. René displays his outlook on life by flashing his "Fuck off People" tattoo on his neck.

(Despite the lack of subtitles and graininess, the clip below gives a sense of the film)

Have you supplied, licensed, researched, or used ARCHIVE MATERIAL in any type of production premiered in 2008? Then it is time for you to enter your film for the FOCAL International Awards 2009. To qualify, a work must have been broadcast, screened or published, for the first time, between 1st January 2008 - 31st December 2008.

Deadline is December 1st 2008

To read about the awards and how to go about submitting your work, go here.



The European Documentary Network (EDN) Financing Guide will be an essential tool for documentary professionals working with international co-productions. It provides information needed to navigate the evolving landscape of documentary production. A landscape where new approaches to funding and distribution becomes increasingly important.

Sections in The EDN Financing Guide includes:

Distributors: profiles and contact info on leading international documentary distributors and sales agents
VoD: profiles and contact info on Video on Demand (VoD) platforms selling documentaries
Funds: information on funds and public support aimed at international documentary development, production and distribution
European Broadcasters: detailed profiles of +100 European broadcasters acquiring documentaries; this includes contact details on relevant commissioning editors and buyers
International Broadcasters: information on major non-European broadcasters buying and co-producing documentaries including contact info on relevant commissioning editors and buyers.

The EDN Financing Guide will be available from 15 December 2008.

To order your copy, contact the editor:
Cecilie Bolvinkel
Phone: +45 3313 1122



The Brasscheck TV collective in San Francisco scours the internet for alternative sources of news that offer a challenging perspective on "mainstream reporting". Subscription is free and each day one receives email links to new videos on-line.

Some of Brasscheck's gems have included videos starring Greg Palast, the investigative journalist who has done great work uncovering evidence of voter fraud in the USA (below).

Steal Back Your Vote! from Greg Palast on Vimeo

Brasscheck also unearths entertaining and relevant reports such as these by Al Jazeera English. In 2007 Max Keiser predicted the financial collapse that has rocked the world this September and October. See below:

Money Geyser

Max Keiser travels to Iceland to explore the global asset bubble and examines the carry trade, a financial instrument that central bankers and politicians around the world are increasingly blaming for global asset bubbles.

Asset bubbles, they say, are more likely to burst the bigger they get. Keiser travels to Iceland to demonstrate how this remarkable trade can enable a nation of less than 300,000 to buy up tens of billions of dollars in British assets.


Al Jazeera English has proven to be a satellite channel and web content provider with an editorial stance that counters the Occidental perspectives of BBC, CNN, SKY, Fox and the like. As reported in Bloomberg: "Everybody loves Al Jazeera. Even though we’ve bombed them (in Baghdad and before that in Kabul), we love them."

Watch AlJazeera English documentary content on YouTube here.
Or access the channel's site directly here

This week, Al Jazeera's reportage strand WE THE PEOPLE takes a look at poverty in the USA.



In this hotly contested US presidential campaign one issue has been largely overlooked: poverty.

One in eight Americans - that is 37 million people - live below the official poverty line. That means these families are often homeless, hungry and have no health insurance.

Over the last three decades the rich have gotten richer and the distance between the 'haves and have nots' has widened.

In many Western countries up to 10 per cent of children live in poverty. That percentage is double in the US and the numbers are growing.

What is worse, American children born into poverty have little chance of moving up and out.
We the People travels to Oakland, California, where a lack of opportunities, little investment in education and the legacy of the drug epidemic of the 1980s have created a cycle of poverty.



The Filmmakers Guide to South Africa, in collaboration with the National Film and Video Foundation, has launched , an online visual directory of South Africa’s finest animators, directors, DOPs, food stylists, photographers, scenic artists, storyboard artists and visual effects artists. Creatives are invited to register with the site, where they will be able to upload a visual portfolio of their work.

Taryn Fowler, head of sales for The Filmmakers Guide to South Af rica, says, “We expect the website to grow into a definite creative resource for broadcasters, agen cies and production com panies looking for creative talent. We also suspect that creatives will use it as a source of inspiration and as a way of benchmarking their work against the best in their categories.”

For more info, visit the site here.


Beyond 2010

This year's Film Indaba, hosted by the Gauteng Film Commission, brings together key role-players to explore and discuss a vibrant and sustainable local film industry.
Date: Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Time: 08:30 for 09:00 Registration
09:00 - 17:00 Indaba
Venue: Sandton Convention Centre, Maude Street Sandton, South Africa

The 2010 FIFA World Cup SA™ offers opportunities for showcasing the province and its locations, and is already having an impact on the technological and infrastructural asset base. From locations to crew to equipment providers and content programming, the event offers potential benefits to the Gauteng industry.

Yet, what will the local film and TV industries look like in 2010 and beyond? Are we on track to building a sustainable local film industry - an industry in which independent filmmaking thrives? Are we adequately prepared for the many challenges ahead such as a lack of resources and limited access to markets?

The GFC Film Indaba 2008 will bring together audio-visual industry representatives, media, community, government officials, politicians, business and funders / financiers in constructive dialogue and celebration, aimed at propelling the Gauteng audio-visual industry. Beyond 2010!

To secure your attendance, please email your details to Carla at: or fax 011 549 8525

You may also register on-line here.

Registration closes by 7 November 2008




The organisers of ENCOUNTERS, the annual South African International Documentary Festival, are calling for entries from South African and International filmmakers for 2009 the 11th edition of the festival.

ENCOUNTERS will show a selection of documentary films from around the world, with a particular focus on South African work. Filmmakers must guarantee, should their film be selected, that permission from the rights holder is secured for a minimum of six screenings at this Festival.

The deadline for submissions is 26th February 2009

The entry form can be obtained from the Encounters website and must be submitted with the DVD PAL screener.

Encounters is the only South African distributor dedicated to distributing documentaries to the South African public. Encounters promote and sell films to television, through DVDs and in cinemas.
For additional information feel free to contact Nazeer Ahmed at:
Tel:  +27 21 465 4686 
Fax: +27 21 461 6964

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