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.

09 December 2010

Cape Film Commission and DFA attend IDFA

Below is Jacky Lourens' report of the CFC / DFA trip to IDFA in November 2010:


IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) – November 2010

What is IDFA

IDFA is the biggest documentary film festival in the world and the sixth biggest film festival with a market (docs for sale) and a forum attached (they pioneered the forum). This year there were an estimated 180,000 tickets sold for the screenings on 13 screens over 11 days. IDFA is one of the only documentary film festival that accepts 1 hour (broadcast hour) films for the competition. IDFA mainly caters for artistic and human cultural type films and is considered non-commercial.

Docs for Sale is a market where potential buyers can view films accepted into the catalogue either in a viewing station where they book slots or online. These comprise of distributors and sales agents, as well as broadcasters and film festivals. It is really important to be there in person as the first day starts off with everyone hussling to get their posters up in the best position and lots of networking goes on, both coincidental and set up by the Docs for Sale team.

The FORUM is IDFA's international co-financing market for documentaries and Europe's largest gathering of filmmakers, television commissioning editors, and independent documentary producers.


Over the past three years, the CFC has build a strong relationship with the DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association) which is one of the largest and active industry associations. In the Western Cape there are vibrant and influential documentary

filmmakers present and products which are of great interest to the international market. Most of the local film festivals e.g. Encounters, Tri-Continental, Wild Talk and Cape Winelands festival in Cape Town have a focus on documentaries and draw large audiences comparing to other provinces.

The marketing objectives of the CFC is to:

market the Western Cape Film industry internationally, nationally and locally by showcasing product and talent

facilitate investment, develop the film industry and content in the Western Cape

provide logistical support, guidance and advice to the local and international film industry regarding production in the region.

actively promote transformation and provision of opportunities for persons, especially from previously disadvantaged communities, to partake in the film sector

position Cape Film Commission as the leading film industry agency in the world.

Who, when and where

On behalf of the Western Cape Documentary filmmakers, Jacky Lourens, interim marketing manager at the CFC and Dylan Valley, young black filmmaker and executive member of the DFA attended IDFA in Amsterdam from 11-22 November 2010. Jacky has a huge network of existing contacts in the Netherlands and Dylan had a documentary called Afrikaaps which was at Docs for Sale. His documentary has a particular relevance to the Netherlands as it was a co-production between Plexus Films (South Africa) and Glasshouse (Netherlands).

Jacky and Dylan also met up with Pascal Schmitz (Executive DFA member Jhb) and Rehad Desai (Festival Director: Tri-Continental Festival), in Amsterdam.


The CFC and DFA put out a call to Western Cape documentary filmmakers to send a summary of their projects in development and finished products (DVD's) with a biography and contact details. An overwhelming response was received with over 52 projects from about 31 companies. This was compiled in a catalogue and the CFC presented it to interested parties.

The visit focused on showcasing local filmmakers and product, exploring funding, building relations to encourage co-productions and create awareness of the opportunities that the Western Cape is offering to the international market.

Besides setting up appointments, we attended master classes, talks and every day there is a cocktail at Docs for Sale from 5-6pm and Guests meets Guests from 6-7h30 pm. At these functions we met a lot of people and they are very important for networking. It is very easy and accessible to meet people.

Who we met:


Off the Fence: Completely commercial documentary only distributor with over 4000 hours in their catalogue. They deal mostly in wildlife and history/mystery, but do also cover the 5 main categories.(History; Nature & Wildlife; People, Places & Culture; Science & Technology;Travel & Adventure;Lifestyle).

They will be coming to South Africa in February to give a workshop on commercial documentary distribution and financing for the international market. They did not even attend IDFA as it is too artistic for them and they mostly do their business at MIPTV and MIPCOM. They have local offices in Cape Town, but only for production services.


Contact: Bo Stehmeier

In Cape Town: Sherene Kingma Tel: 021 468 8050

Journeyman: They specialise in investigative type stories and do documentaries as well as news inserts, so they take anything from 5 minutes upwards. They like material that is topical and relevant. They usually need material very fast when the story is relevant and delays can mean the story does not make the sale. The owner (not Kimberley) is from SA origin and has a soft spot for SA


Contact: Kimberley Anwen Warner

Spier Films: Based in London and headed up by Mike Auret who used to run the Sithengi Festival. Spier film sell and distribute internationally and produce in South Africa predominantly and have offices in Cape Town. They will be interested to co-produce with South African filmmakers.


Contact: Michael Auret

First Hand Films: International sales and service of ambitious and accessible stories: documentaries, series and multiplatform media. First Hand Films acts as executive producer for selected projects and travel to all major festivals.

Contact: Sara Born

Films Transit International: One of the longest running, renowned and respected international sales agency of quality documentaries in Montreal and New York. They specialize in the worldwide release and marketing of high profile, theatrical and television documentaries in two specific genres: Arts, Sports & Culture, and Society, History & Politics.

Contact: Jan Rofekamp


Hubert Bals Fund: Fiction Feature film and documentaries fund for developing nations that runs under the Film Festival Rotterdam and has a very specific post production fund for feature length and style documentaries. They work closely together with the Jan Vrijman Fund.

Contact: Iwana Chronis

Jan Vrijman fund: Dutch fund that runs under IDFA and funds documentaries from developing nations. They did state that they prefer to fund films from countries outside of South Africa on the continent at this stage, as so many successful applications have come from SA in the past and they needed to spread it out a bit.


Contact Isabel Fernandez

The Netherlands Film Fund: The film fund is the national agency responsible for supporting film production and cinema in the Netherlands. The discussion was about the cultural climate which is changing in The Netherlands and in future it will become more important for them and South Africa to have co-productions for documentaries. Currently there is MOU between The Netherlands and South Africa and we were looking at ways to encourage the establishment of a coproduction treaty between the two countries in order to tap into the different funding models.


Movies that Matter: An Amnesty International initiative, exhibits films that draw our attention to human rights situations in which these are at stake. The festival is taking place from 24-30th March 2011 in Den Hague.

Contact: Matthea de Jong

Taco Ruighaver

Africa in the Picture Film Festival: Dutch run film festival that specialises in African content and usually discovers a lot of the African talent that lands up screening at IDFA. They have an incredible selection of African titles and filmmakers at their festival.


Contact: Heidi Lobato

Cinekid: is the annual film, television and new media festival for children in Amsterdam. It is visited by more than 40 000 children but also includes a 2 day conference for professionals, a video library and co-production markets.


Contact: Monique Ruinen


Cinekid: Kids & Docs workshop: As part of the Cinekid Festival, they have developed a Kids & Docs workshop. At the workshop documentary filmmakers develop a film proposal for a 15 minute youth documentary for children aged between 8 and 12. The point of departure is that they choose a subject or theme that interests them, and then search for a child who wants to tell his or her story in the film. This concept could be very interesting for South Africa.

IDFA Academy: is a platform for documentary talents from all over the world. It takes place during IDFA where you can meet professionals willing to share their knowledge in master classes. The IDFAcademy functions as a bridge between film school training and practice.


Contact: Meike Statema

Binger Doc Lab: This programme in Amsterdam offers talented documentary filmmakers coaching from fine-tuning the initial idea, through narrative development, the actual shooting, to the editing of their film and on towards festival platforming, marketing and release.

Contact: Esther van Driessum

Berlinale Talent campus: Monica Rorvik from Durban International Film Festival already has an existing relationship with the Berlinale Talent Campus. South African newcomers can apply to attend the campus in Durban and from there they will make a selection to attend the international campus in Berlin.

Contact: Christine Trostrum


DPN: Documentary Producers Network

We attended the launch of the documentary filmmakers association in The Netherlands and it was interesting to have a dialogue with them as we have completely different challenges. Their main issues of discussion was around the relationship between producers and directors. Apparently it seems that well-established writers/directors don't necessarily want to work with producers, however the funding bodies insists that you work with a producer to produce the films. They only had a small membership of around 30 people, but most of the producers are all established filmmakers.


In between all the meetings and functions we watched several international documentaries of high quality and met with filmmakers afterwards. Filmmakers from other countries asked our advice on filming in South Africa and certain African stories that they have in development.


The People to People Documentary Conference is the biggest event of its kind in the Southern African region and is an invaluable opportunity for its documentary community to become active members of the global community. It is at IDFA that discussions were held to cement the content and participation for the conference that will take place in

Johannesburg in September 2011 and hopefully in Cape Town in 2013.


Although it was great to have so many projects represented from the Western Cape, it was very difficult to market an individual project. With the result that we kept the conversations general with the focus on what the Western Cape and South Africa has to offer from location, product to talent etc.

We felt that there is a definite need for South Africa to be represented as a group in future. Other countries like Chile and the Norwegian countries attended in a delegation of about 20-30 people and they have beautiful printed catalogues with their talent and products. For next year, the DFA in collaboration with the CFC should coordinate a delegation of

documentary filmmakers to attend IDFA possibly with the assistance from the DTI. However, in preparation we need to start the call for projects sooner, possibly around the Durban Film Festival and the People to People Conference in September next year. This will give us ample of time to ensure that we have quality projects for the international market. It is vital for documentary filmmakers to experience an international market such as IDFA and therefore we would also encourage young filmmakers to apply for the IDFAcademy.

The meeting with the distributor, Off the Fence went very well with the result that they have agreed to present a workshop in Johannesburg and Cape Town in February next year. This will assist documentary filmmakers hugely to get a better understanding of the international market, the business of distribution and the packaging of films.

We've noticed that there are still many foreign filmmakers making films about South Africa and Africa with international funding, in particular the wildlife arena and series. These documentaries are commercial and we as South Africans should be making them. In South Africa we can produce films with lower budgets and with the DTI rebate incentive, we can deliver and offer great value to the international industry. Instead of foreigners making films in South Africa and retaining the rights, we should offer co-productions in order to benefit from their incentives and exploitations of rights. The CFC and DFA, along with other associations should lobby the NFVF to follow-up on the MOU between South Africa and The Netherlands, so that we can have an official co- production treaty between the countries. This will enable both countries to tap into greater funding and incentives.

The IDFA industry and programme guide which contains the contact details and a picture

of every single person that attended, plus the catalogue of films are available at the CFC

offices for perusal to any interested filmmakers.

For more information


Jacky Lourens

083 485 6368

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