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.

03 September 2010

DFA Annual Chairman's Report


By co-chair, Lauren Groenewald – September 1, 2010

  1. Election of second board took place at the last AGM on 22 July 2009 and allocation of portfolios was decided as follows by the new board:

  1. Lauren Groenewald & Ingrid Gavshon – Co-Chairs

  2. Llewelyn Roderick & Matome Senyole – Vice-Chairs

  3. Pascal Schmidt and Theresa Meyer – Co-secretaries

  4. Marc Schwinges – Treasurer

  5. Dylan Valley – Youth portfolio

  6. Ayanda Mncwabe – KZN

  7. Khalid Shamis was co-opted to the board as TPA liaison with DFA

  8. Jacky Lourens was co-opted to the board as CFC liaison with DFA. Her 3-year tenure is coming to an end and we need to nominate a new representative. I would like nominate Miki Redelinghuys.

  9. Miki Redelinghuys –Project Co-ordinator DFA MY TOWN 2010/2011

Due to medical reasons, Llewelyn Roderick resigned from the board in 2010. Ayanda Mncwabe also resigned from the board as she had newly moved down to KZN and had technical and work challenges that made it difficult to actively participate. We were sad to lose both of their inputs as their energy and contribution was valued by the whole board.

A special thanks to Theresa Meyer who has served two terms on the board and has decided not to stand again. Theresa’s input has been invaluable as well her can do attitude. We hope that we can co-opt her on projects and use her experience to facilitate next year’s MY TOWN event.

Another special mention needs to be made in recognition of Marc Schwinges exceptional organizational skills and knowledge that have built a solid orginisational foundation from which the DFA can now operate. Marc will be standing for the board again but will sadly not wear the Treasurers hat again (unless we can twist his arm). Marc’s input has been invaluable in financially grounding the orginisation, as well as creating a professional identity for the organisation.


In 2009/2010 DFA continued to build on the work done by the board the previous year. We were able to focus on critical issues and attempted to address some of the challenges raised at the previous AGM. The DFA board met (teleconferenced) monthly to discuss and strategise around industry matters.

  • INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS / COPY RIGHT & PJIP As in 2009 – one of the key areas of concern was and still is the issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IP). In 2009, the DFA was actively involved on this front. DFA participated in the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University (PIJIP) as well in the SASFED presentation to the ICASA hearings. In early December 2009, the DFA teamed up with WOS (Women of the Sun) to host a 2-day Workshop in Johannesburg, around Fair Dealing Copyright provisions, with international and local experts. The project was bank-rolled via the WOS bank account, but the DFA was equally involved in co-coordinating, fund-raising for and running this project, with a total budget of R55,301.95. This will be an on-going agenda within the DFA as it is now the responsibility of the industry and bodies like the DFA to work towards a FAIR USAGE/PRACTICE document to assist filmmakers in leveraging rights in terms of fair usage/ copy right and defining their intellectual property rights.

2008 posed on-going challenges for our industry, with the SABC facing a management and financial crises, which, as we all know resulted in failure by the public broadcaster to make payments to some of our members and other industry professionals. This crisis continued into 2009/2010. According to all media accounts, the mismanagement of the SABC was so gross that it necessitated the subsequent dissolution of the board. We are now once again faced with the suspension of the SABC group CEO Solly Moekoetle just weeks after beginning to serve his 5 year contract. Another huge stumbling block has been the freeze on all SABC co-production contracts: as all co-productions now have to have ministerial approval.

  • THE DFA & THE NATIONAL BROADCASTER & ICASA: In May (2009) the Television Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC) was formed, with the specific mandate from industry stakeholders, to address this crisis. Prior, we also witnessed the launch of the Save our SABC initiative, which DFA supported strongly. In 2010 the DFA financed TVIEC to a total value of R5500 over the year, a portion of that money was used for vitally important research into local content compliance from ICASA. The findings have resulted in important legal opinion from a top legal firm which will strengthen our call for more local content. Currently this information is with FXI (Freedom of Expression Institute) for further action, all thanks to DFA paid for research! We also were part of the 2nd protest at the SABC with TVIEC. Our treasurer Marc Schwinges sat on the TVIEC steering committee and was present at weekly meetings with the SABC executive advocating for the payment of outstanding fees owed to producers- almost all overdue payments have now been made by SABC. The DFA was also fundamentally involved in demanding a new SABC board. The DFA nominated DFA member Lieza Louw to sit on the new board, unfortunately our nomination was not successful.

  • ICASA:The DFA represented by Marc Schwinges attended and presented at the ICASA meetings dealing with regualtion and poilicy for the industry. The DFA – also met with ICASA former Chair and Councillors in this last year to improve local content compliance and ensure minority genres like documentary are monitored. There is still a long way to go but Marc Schwinges and Rehad Desai are still very much involved in commenting on behalf of the industry through SOS with the assistance of the FXI (Freedom of Expression Institute).

  • The new DFA board will have to address the issue of co-production contracts with the SABC as well as challenge the lack of local content commissions. The new board unfortunately will enter this arena once again as the SABC is dealing with a dysfunctional top structure, and a situation where commissioning editors have no real say or influence.

We have also pursued activities aimed at nurturing our love for documentary, facilitating access and knowledge sharing through projects like the DOCLOVE documentary screenings at the Bioscope in Johannesburg and at the Obz Café in Cape Town. Thanks to Tina-Louise Smith for her filmmaker interview blogspot PERSPECTIVES which has been an inspiring look into how filmmakers approach their work. The DFA blog, as well as member newsletters and notifications have been a vital element to keep our members informed and abreast of briefs as well as developments in the industry. It is a key source of information for the documentary industry. We would like to see a more interactive relationship with the membership and encourage members to make their films available for DOCLOVE as well as provide material about their projects for the BLOG. Our facebook page also provides the opportunity for active engagement.

  • DOCLOVE JOZI & CAPE TOWN – After a relatively slow start the DOC LOVE event is once again up and running in both main centers. We would like to see a similar growth of interest in KZN. The event has had a broad attendance but very few DFA members have been seen out and about at these events. The new Obz Café venue has proved to be a good choice for Cape Town and most films have been accompanied by the filmmakers resulting in discussion and debate. Thanks to Dylan Valley and Tinso Mungwe for getting this up and running. Thanks to Khalid Shamis for the cool logo. Pascal Schmitz has managed to create a buzz around the DOCLOVE event in Jozi at the new Bioscope.

After the success of the DFA MY TOWN short film competition in conjunction with ENCOUNTERS Film festival 2009 the DFA under the helm of MY TOWN co-ordinator Miki Redelinghuys ran the competition for a second year. The 2010 event was a great success with more than 20 entries. This year the DFA managed to engage both the CAPE FILM COMMISSION, THE NFVF and CTV in the event. DFA MY TOWN has grown to be highlight on the documentary film calendar. The competition is growing in that our entries were of a high standard this year and audience members who attended the screenings were enthusiastic about the films they saw.

  • DFA MY TOWN – the selection panel was Jemima Spring, Matome Senyole, Dylan Valley and Theresa Meyer. The final judging panel for this year’s event were Khalid Shamis, Malika Ndlovu, Mandisa Zitha and Clarence Hamilton from the NFVF . "The entries were generally of a surprisingly high standard demonstrating great talent and potential to grow into film-makers with a real future ahead of them" There were 2 DFA MY TOWN awards: REFLECTIONS BY Anna Telford & Felix Seuffert was awarded the DFA MY TOWN NFVF SPARK award. DIE TAKHAAR MET DIE BONDKAR by Wim Steytler was awarded the DFA MY TOWN cash prize.Both awards include a 320gig Lacie drive, kindly sponsored by the Visual Impact Group

During 2009/2010 the orginisation was approached by various international film bodies and festivals to partner with and advise on the state of local documentary as well as identify local documentary filmmakers. The DFA met with AFRIDOC as well as the Sichuan Film Festival and were also approached by the BBC short MY WORLD competition. The DFA partnered with Encounters Film Festival on many of these initiatives.

  • BBC competition "My World" was global documentary competition open to anyone in the world to enter. The project aimed to find original stories from each continent, with compelling personal narratives. Matome Senyole DFA board member and MY TOWN winner 2009 –short film MY ALEX was one of the short listed films for the competition.

  • AFRIDOC DFA was a partner in the first South African Documentary Scriptwriting Residency in Johannesburg from the 12th till the 24th of April 2010. AFRICADOC itself is however not a new venture in French Speaking Africa, and has a proud history of success. This is its first venture into an English Speaking Territory and DFA is thrilled to be associated with the program.

    The aim of Africadoc is to develop, together with all African countries, a training network to meet the needs of a new generation of documentary filmmakers, and to set up a network of professionals working in the documentary world. Marc Schwinges and Pascal Schmitz did a presentation to the students –many of whom are now DFA members. Thanks to DFA member Francois Verster for being a judge fro the AFRIDOC selection of students and projects.

  • SICHUAN FILM FESTIVAL Co-chair Lauren Groenewald and Co-secretary Theresa Meyer & Encounters Film Festival met with the Sichuan Festival - an invitation waas sent out to the database to participate in the festival. We are hoping to co-ordinate a South African Doccie focus in 2011.

  • FINNISH EXCHANGE DFA members in Cape Town had a two day exchange with Finnish filmmakers –where we viewed films from Finland and showed some local content. This was spearheaded by the CFC and DFA member Jacky Lourens.

  • CAPE WINELANDS FESTIVAL AND ONE CITY MANY CULTURES MASTERCLASS. The DFA hosted a master class on the subject of ONE CITY MANY CULTURES – it was a look at documentary film and the role of the filmmaker as the storyteller when working within this paradigm. Facilitated by Dr Premesh Lalu- Professor of History and Director of the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC. Conversations with filmmakers about their experiences when telling multi-faceted personal stories about culture, identity and experiences that are not necessarily their own. DFA members Francois Verster (Director of Pavement Aristocrats; A Lions Trail; When the War is Over; The Mother's House and Sea Point Days) & Dylan Valley (Director Lost Prophets; HipHopera; Infecting the City - A Collaboration around Xenophobia : Afrikaaps ) were the speakers. DFA members also had their films screened at the event: TRIPPING DOWN LONG STREET Terry Westby-Nunn - CONGO MY FOOT -Miki Redelighuys/Kyle O Donaghue/Okepne Ojang - RECOLLECTIONS OF NEW YEAR -Lisba Vosloo -BIOSCOPE -Miki Redelinghuys/Roger van Wyk

  • DFA MEMBERS SCREEN FILMS AT ETHIOPIAN FILM FESTIVAL: Co-secretary Pascal Schmitz co-ordinated the screening of South African films at the Ethiopian Film Festival. The films were well received and we hope that this relationship will be continued.

  • SOUTH SOUTH EXCHANGE: Columbian exchange – engaged with talks with Nicole Sarmiento and Angela Ramirez about possible taking a "package" of SA films to a festival in Columbia . Discussions under way with Encounters Film festival and hoping to apply for funding through Movies that matter.

The DFA in Cape Town were active in pursuing a relationship with the Cape Film Commission. The CFC sponsored two cocktail events linked to DFA events: ONE CITY MANY CULTURES MASTERCALSS and the DFA MY TOWN SHORT FILM COMPETITION. The CFC also sponsored four flights to the PEOPLE TO PEOPLE CONFERENCE so that there would be a Cape Town doccie presence. DFA member Francois Verster won the Imbongi Award for best film project to promote the Western Cape. This was very positive for our genre.

  • DFA & CFC:The DFA met with the CFC consultants and inputted on ideas on how the Cape Film Commission could contribute to the documentary industry in the Western Cape. This is an on-going process and open to all DFA members and filmmakers. Please submit your thoughts to the CFC.

  • PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: The Documentary Filmmakers Association (DFA) was this year strongly represented at the 2nd People to People International Documentary Conference in Johannesburg. Members had their films screened at the event: mark Kaplan, Francois Verster and we were also represented on a host of panels: Steven Markowitz, Dylan Valley and Lauren Groenewald.The Tri Continental Film Festival was responsible for putting together a highly stimulating and thought provoking event. Partner orginisations were Encounters South African International Documentary Festival and the Southern Africa Communications for Development (SACOD). An important outcome of the conference was the industry declaration by People 2 People, the Television Industry Emergency Coalition, SASFED and DFA - presented by Rehad Desai – People To People / TVIEC / SASFED; Simon Wilkie – Southern African representative – Southern Africa Communications for Development (SACOD) / Namibia Rep; Harriet Gavshon – TVIEC / Independent Producers Organisation (IPO);Kate Skinner – Save our SABC: Reclaiming Our Public Broadcaster Coordinator; Marc Schwinges – SASFED / DFA and edited and endorsed by Ingrid Gavshon – DFA / SACOD; Khalid Shamis – SASFED / TPA / DFA and Eugene Paramoer. Thank you to all these individuals and orginisations for their time and input. The details of this document are on the DFA blog.

  • DTI Rebate & DTI BBEEE - Initial discussion around the DTI rebate were started at PEOPLE TO PEOPLE –Ingrid Gavshon and Marc Schwinges were part of these discussions. Simon Taylor subsequently inputted. Pascal Schmitz also formed part of delegation that initiated talks on lowering the rebate for doccie films. Rehad Desai, marc Schwinges, pascal Schmitz and Sarina Maharaj met with the DTI and are in discussions about a specific category for documentary.

  • DFA & LABOUR: Marc Schwinges attended the Department of Labour meeting with SASFED / IPO - Creative Workers - Recruitment, Went to the minister on behalf of industry for freelancers to discuss working conditions and the need for regulation thereof. Have asked employers to come together to find middle ground. Negotiations ongoing.

One of the key aims of the DFA is to skill and develope new filmmakers as well as develop established filmmakers. In 2010 Francois Verster and Jack Lourens continued with the ground work for a CAPEDOC programme that will nurture established filmmakers. The programme is aimed at growing established filmmakers in terms of film language and style through master classes with international and other experienced filmmakers. The programme has been presented to UWC as a possible partner and will be pursued in 2011.

  • DFA, PLEXUS FILMS & CASCOLAND PRESENTED 3-DAY TRAINING WORKSHOP IN MAFIKENG. DFA member Miki Redelinghuys was working on a doccie in Mafikeng and met with Willie Reetsang from the Mmabana Cultural in Mafiekng in 2010 and proposed to combine the film-making process with a skills transfer to some of the Arts students from the Mmabana centre. 12 students to attended a 3-day intensive documentary film-making workshop, which took place 5-7 June in the Mmabana Centre of Mafikeng. The aim of the workshop was to demystify the art of documentary filmmaking, making the basic technology of filmmaking accessible to new filmmakers. The outcome objective of the workshop was loosely built around the concept of the MY TOWN project launched by the Documentary Filmmakers Association in 2009. The DFA hope to use the model for the workshop for other outreach training courses.

  • DFA BURSARIES: In the 2009/10 Membership Cycle there were 4 bursary members as well as 8 MY TOWN free memberships to new filmmakers.

  • MAP SETA PROPOSAL – Pascal Schmitz, Marc Schwinges and Lauren Groenewald inputted on a Map Seta Proposal to develop young filmmakers as intern or trainee filmmakers: application in association with Map Seta credited Heather Setzen from Hot Shots. .

  • FESTIVAL ROUND UP: Pascal Schmitz and Simon Taylor have proposed a subcommittee to identify the most important doccie festivals and to try and raise funds to attend.

One of our main objectives for the year has been to grow our membership: In the 2009/10 Membership Cycle there were 4 bursary members (one was sponsored by Plexus, and the other 3 worked a day in exchange), 8 My Town Free Memberships and 2 complimentary memberships (Tula and Miki). At the end of the current membership year, we had 107 members for this year’s cycle, but have already had several additional members who have joined as new for the 2010/11 cycle of which 19 members have already paid without even being invoiced!

Our aim is to be representative as possible and grow the membership as broadly as possible on request from the NFVF our we have done an audit of race and sex – our membership currently reflects Male 61, Female 45, White 72, Black 34, Gauteng 41, Western Cape 50, KZN 5, Eastern Cape 3, Other Locations or Unknown 6. Our aim in 2011 is to diversify.

Marc our treasurer has created a members Directory and we have applied to NFVF for them to fund the printing of 150 copies. It is a useful source of contacts as well as marketing of our members. Other marketing endeavors have included professional banners –beautifully designed by UNDERDOG –thanks as well as business cards for the Board to facilitate all the industry meetings

Work is being done voluntarily and there is a real need for an administrator to help navigate industry debate as well as manage the daily running of the organization as it has grown substantially since 2007. This year’s board made a submission to the Lottery to fund an administrator and basic office costs. If unsuccessful this will be an immediate job for the new board –it is a very lengthy and long application and we should apply for the 2011 year.


  • Regional Growth still limited, our main activities still limited to Cape Town and JHB.

  • Lack of membership engagement –we would like to drive a more interactive orginisation –members are requested to update the secretaries with projects they are working on as well as possible projects they would like to initiate through the DFA.

  • Most board members along with the industry have had a rough ride financially and are often being stretched to meet their DFA obligations as well as professional obligations – we need to find funding for a dedicated administrator.

  • The DFA should have a bigger presence at international festivals: the Sheffield festival as well as others have requested our presence but a lack of funding has made this impossible.

  • Distribution platforms –new board to spearhead.

  • DFA library –need funding to manage


  • We saw a broader industry engagement – the NFVf, the CFCF are visibly recognizing the role and voice of the DFA.

  • International conversations are starting with other film bodies as well as training orginisations.

  • The mechanics of training workshops are in development and need to be furthered in 2010.

  • MY TOWN is growing from strength to strength.

  • Growth in general membership

  • Expanded networks through social networking and DOCLOVE.


ICASA Hearings

  • ICASA gazetted a request to the public to comment on their proposition to interrogate the way independently commissioned work happens. Broadcasters submitted their own comments. Independent producers’ positions came from the IPO, the NFVF and SASFED. The DFA’s comments were absorbed into the SASFED document reflecting the DFA’s in-puts, and were finally ably reviewed again by Marc Schwinges for DFA.

  • The final SASFED submission document is detailed and lengthy. Oral hearings that took place in Johannesburg at ICASA on Mon 23rd Feb and Tues 24th Feb 2009.

  • Marc and Kali van der Merwe attended on behalf of DFA. They participated in the SASFED presentation team.

  • In 2010 Marc Schwinges has actively represented the DFA at meetings as well as canvassing membership information for documentation submitted to ICASA.


  • Save our SABC was founded by the OSF (Open Society Foundation) aligned with the Freedom of Expression Institute and MMP (Media Monitoring Project).

  • Marc represented the DFA at a 2-day session. This was an extensive session that dealt with representation of the SABC board, the way the SABC is structured legally as well as the problems of the SABC. The break-down of cross-subsidization of channels (PCBS to PBS). The realities are out of step with regulations. Current recommendations include proposals to streamline the SABC, perhaps to one or two channels of TV to facilitate efficiency as a public broadcaster and that commercial entities could be sold off.


As mentioned previously, the SABC presented more challenges this year than ever before, but we believe that because, as an industry, we’ve spent the last 2-4 years unifying our voice by establishing representative organizations such as DFA, we were in a position to respond with strength and unity to the crises posed.

The SABC crisis is public knowledge and as such we will not make it the focus of our DFA report. The challenge is how we respond as a body.

Along with SASFED, TPA, IPO and other industry bodies, the DFA actively participated in the TVIEC initiative from the beginning. We supported the TVIEC financially as well as in time and mobilizing support from our members for the protest action taken on 4 June 2009 and again in 2010.


One of our key objectives is information sharing. Catherine Muller initiated the DFA Blog which has had a revamp by Marc Schwinges and is being updated by both Marc and Pascal Shmitz and Dylan Valley. We are very proud of our blog and the massive amount of regular work that goes into this on a voluntary basis. The DFA blog is one of the most up-to-date industry sources of information relating to up-coming films and screenings calls for film proposals, industry issues and much more. Thanks to the people who make this happen!

Tina-Louise Smith has continued with her filmmaker interview blog, called PERSPECTIVES.


It is part of the DFA vision and constitution to encourage emerging filmmakers. MY TOWN mini doc competition was an attempt at motivating filmmakers and aspirant filmmakers to make a film with a very specific purpose – a chance to be screened at Encounters as well as the recognition and reward of winning an award.

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