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.

28 January 2011

Durban FilmMart 2011 Press Release

Durban FilmMart 2011 deadline is around the corner

The deadline for the submissions for the second annual Durban FilmMart is looming. Set to take place in Durban from 22-26 July 2011, during the 32 nd edition of the Durban International Film Festival, the closing date for entries is 15 February 2011 . Aimed at raising the visibility of projects from the African continent and creating opportunities for African filmmakers, the Durban FilmMart is a joint venture between DFO, the film-industry development arm of the eThekwini Municipality and the Durban International Festival (DIFF), which is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal).

The inaugural Durban FilmMart in 2010 saw 200 producers, directors, sales agents, distributors, financiers and funding organisations from across the world, attending meetings, project presentations and a series of master classes and workshops on the latest trends in film finance, marketing, distribution and new media technologies. Of the 75 qualifying applicants, 12 projects in both the feature film and documentary genres from as far afield as Egypt , Nigeria , Ethiopia , Zambia and Burkina Faso , were chosen to participate in the Finance Forum segment of the Durban FilmMart.

Commenting on the success of the first edition and noting the anticipatory interest of potential investors, Toni Monty of the Durban Film Office (DFO) added, “Film practitioners from all corners of the African continent are encouraged to take this opportunity as a means of promoting their projects, meeting lead experts and networking with industry professionals from across the globe”.

Peter Rorvik, Director of the Durban International Film Festival echoed Monty's sentiments: “ The Durban FilmMart will stimulate African cinema production and facilitate project collaboration between African filmmakers.”

The Durban FilmMart will also allow aspiring film producers the opportunity to be spotted for inclusion in the International Film Festival Rotterdam's CineMart one of the world's most respected co-production markets. Three producers who participated in last year's Durban FilmMart will attend the CineMart's 2011 Rotterdam Lab, a high-level producer workshop that supports independent film production, and provides an opportunity to meet and network with global film industry players.

Filmmakers preparing submissions to the Durban FilmMart can note the comments of Egyptian filmmaker Hossan Elouan, whose film Hawi scooped an award at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. Elouan took part in the Durban FilmMart in July 2010 and described it as “an exciting experience - it gets all the participants under one roof, so they can exchange ideas, and do business together. It is also important because it puts African filmmakers and producers with the right industry contacts in Europe and North America , which opens doors for international co-productions with Africa , and better distribution possibilities for African films across the globe.”

Entry is open to:
• Projects with an African citizen attached to one of the three key creative roles of producer, director or writer. Proof of African citizenship or birth must be provided through a certified copy of a valid African passport/birth certificate;
• Africans living in the Diaspora, but who still have African citizenship or have proof of birth in Africa ;
• Projects with a producer attached.
For more information on the Durban FilmMart and how to submit your project please visit
For further enquires contact email: or

Issued by the Durban Film Office and Durban International Film Festival
For enquiries contact:
Ms Tozi Mthethwa and Ms Mona Pilane
DFO Publicists
Tel: 031-705 7131/2989
Fax: 031-705 2479
Cell: 073 681 1234
Cell: 083 307 9067

For media enquiries regarding the Durban International Film Festival:
Sharlene Versfeld
Versfeld & Associates: The Communication Works
Tel: 031-8115628
Cell: 083 326 3235

For 32nd Durban International Film Festival 21- 31 July 2011 enquires
Tel: +27 (0)31 260 2506

27 January 2011

Public Service Broadcasting Invitation

Please click this link (1.9MB) for the findings a research survey into Public Service Broadcasting in South Africa. The project was run by AfriMap in 11 African countries including South Africa; Benin; Cameroon; Kenya; Mali; Moçambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Uganda; Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The aim of the research was to contribute to public service broadcast media reforms through collection, collation and writing up of information on regulation, ownership, access and performance of public broadcasters in these 11 African countries. For information on this project, please see:

Report into Public Service Broadcasting (1.9MB)

26 January 2011

Ford Foundation Launches $50 million for Documentaries

NEW YORK, 19 January 2011 — One day before the start of the Sundance Film Festival, a program of the Sundance Institute, and its gathering of independent filmmakers from around the world, the Ford Foundation today announced a five-year, $50 million initiative to help find and support a new generation of filmmakers whose works address urgent social issues.
The new initiative, called JustFilms, will invest $10 million a year over the next five years to support and expand the community of filmmakers and mediamakers around the world focused on creating documentaries with passion and purpose, but who often lack funding to realize their visions or reach audiences.

"With the growth of the Web and social networks, the potential global audience for filmed content with a social conscience has exploded," said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. "We want JustFilms to support visionary filmmakers from around the world to create works on urgent social issues, and help them reach and engage audiences."

JustFilms will build on the foundation's longtime support for documentaries, including such landmark productions as "Eyes on the Prize," "State of Fear" and "Why Democracy," among scores of others. It will also leverage the foundation's global network of 10 regional offices to identify and lift new talent from around the world and to strengthen emerging communities of documentary filmmakers.

"Storytelling is a unique and powerful way of helping us understand our past, explore our present and build our future," said Darren Walker, vice president of Ford's Education, Creativity and Free Expression program. "We see these stories as vital ingredients to social change, translating how people engage with the world and the issues that define our time."

The foundation said JustFilms would focus on film, video and digital works that show courageous people confronting difficult issues and actively pursuing a more just, secure and sustainable world. The initiative will pursue three distinct funding paths:
• Partnerships with major organizations such as the Sundance Institute, the Independent Television Service and others
• An ongoing open application process that will help JustFilms stay attuned to fresh ideas and stories wherever they may emerge, and
• Partnership with other Ford Foundation grant-making programs where the introduction of documentary film could help draw attention to an issue or advance a movement.

Directing the JustFilms initiative will be Orlando Bagwell, an internationally respected, award-winning filmmaker who has supported documentary film and other narrative art forms over the past six years as a program officer and director in the foundation's Freedom of Expression team.
"This major new commitment to documentaries reflects our recognition that individual stories—meaningful and well told—can be a powerful instrument of change," Bagwell said. "The test of JustFilms will be its ability to lift the voices of independent filmmakers and mediamakers from outside the mainstream, to build audiences for social justice stories, and to enlarge the conversation on critical but often less visible issues. It's work that at its essence is really about capturing imaginations."
Key Background
Mr. Ubiñas, Mr. Walker and Mr. Bagwell—along with several members of the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees—will be in Park City, Utah, this week to launch a major five-year partnership with the Sundance Institute as a key part of the JustFilms initiative. "We couldn't be more delighted to have the Sundance Institute as a premier partner as we launch JustFilms," Mr. Walker said. "Robert Redford, Keri Putnam, and Cara Mertes have shown incredible leadership in supporting documentary filmmakers, and we are proud to be joining with them in this partnership."
JustFilms will contribute $1 million a year over five years to support the Documentary Film Program at the Sundance Institute. The resulting Sundance Institute/Ford Foundation Documentary Film Fund will support international and U.S. productions that focus on human and civil rights, free expression, economic opportunity, and other critical topics. It will also support filmmaker labs that enhance storytelling through cutting-edge editing, producing, and film scoring workshops. And it will support panels and dialogues at the Sundance Film Festival to enhance understanding and recognition of documentary film as a key component of social change efforts.
Throughout the year, JustFilms will announce its work with the other key partners.
JustFilms will spend roughly one-third of its annual budget on each of its three core funding paths (strategic partnerships, open applications, engagement with Ford Foundation grantees). The initiative has also set aside funds for marketing partners who will help filmmakers promote their work and engage directly with audiences.

Please read more and keep your fingers crossed that some of that US$50 million filters through to South African documentary filmmakers.

Durban's Talent Campus

4th TALENT CAMPUS DURBAN calls for filmmaker applications

The 4th edition of Talent Campus Durban will take place from 22-26 July 2011, during the 32nd Durban International Film Festival (21-31 July). Talent Campus Durban is an intensive 5-day programme delivered by film professionals to enhance both theoretical and practical approaches to filmmaking. Themed Africa in Motion, the 4th Talent Campus Durban presents a unique platform for African filmmakers to propel their careers through participation in a comprehensive series of seminars, workshops and industry networking activities. This year includes the addition of a Doc Station, where selected documentary projects submitted by accepted talents will be finessed and packaged for presentation within the Durban FilmMart.

40 filmmakers from 20 countries in Africa were selected for the successful 2010 edition, imbuing the Campus with a rich intercultural nature, and sparking exchanges and cooperation that will continue to feed the development of filmmaking across borders of this continent. Talent Campus Durban now invites filmmakers from Africa to apply to participate in the 2011 programme, which takes place in Durban, South Africa, over five days. In addition to specific activities offered by the Campus, the selected talents will have the opportunity to attend films and events at the 32nd Durban International Film Festival.

Full rules and link to the on-line application form at:
Deadline for application: 15 March 2011

For further details:
Phone: +27 (0)31 260 2506/1704
Fax: +27 (0)31 260 3074
Email: or

Talent Campus Durban is a cooperation between the Durban International Film Festival and the Berlinale Talent Campus of the Berlin International Film Festival and is supported by the German Embassy in South Africa, the Goethe-Institut South Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

The Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) with funding and support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film & Video Foundation, HIVOS, City of Durban and other valued funders and partners.

This is sent from a list server. For email contact please use the following:

Media Queries: Versfeld and Associates
Tel: 031-8115628 Fax: 0866827334 Email:

Festival queries: Durban International Film Festival
Tel: 031 260 2506 Fax: 031 260 3074 Email:

Talent Campus Durban queries: 
Tel: 031 260 1704 or 2506 Fax: 031 260 3074 Email: Email: or

25 January 2011

A Short History of Documentary Filmmaking

by Tina-Louise Smith

Erik Barnouw’s Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film is a satisfying read. The book begins with French astronomer Pierre Jules Cesar Jansen’s experiments to record the passage of Venus around the sun, the more well-known attempts of photographer Eadward Muybridge to examine the movement of race horses as precisely as possible, and the young Louis Lumiere’s invention of the cinematographe and its subsequent world domination as it showed themselves and the world to audiences around the globe. We meet Robert and Frances Flaherty, John Grierson, Dziga Vertov, Esfir Shub, Alberto Cavalcanti, Joris Ivens, Leni Riefenstahl, Humphrey Jennings and so many more …

The stories of social, technical and economic developments are integral to how these filmmakers came to and influenced documentary filmmaking. I was especially intrigued to learn how the changes over the years, influenced by the political climate around the world, affected the craft and how we have inherited that history in South Africa.

Working in television and video production for the past eleven years I am aware that documentary has a secondary status to that of fiction, or drama in South Africa. It is often said that documentary is the training ground for filmmakers with an allusion to filmmakers moving on to make films that demand more of the filmmaker, like dramas. There is also the suggestion that filmmakers can make mistakes and more glaring mistakes in their documentary forays than they would be allowed to when making drama.

Reading Barnouw’s history, however, it becomes clear that documentary filmmakers were at the forefront of the history and development of filmmaking from the beginning. The first filmmakers were documentary filmmakers, who, in a sense, laid the foundations for all kinds of filmmaking. This does not mean that these early filmmakers were less sophisticated than those who came later; instead, it means to me, that these filmmakers had to work harder than those who came later in order to understand the medium and to use it to say what they wanted to say.

The documentary filmmakers who were fortunate and privileged enough to be making films in the early twentieth Century, were making films that still inspire and intrigue us today. Not only in terms of the stories they were telling, but also in how they used the camera and co-ordinated the technical teams they worked with. With bulkier equipment and often larger crews than we work with on documentary films today, the pioneering filmmakers were able to capture magical shots, scenes and sequences that we learn from today. These achievements wrought out of the demands of the times suggest that documentary filmmaking is a craft that requires patience, focus and a technical intuitiveness. More a bootcamp than a nursery school where you learn your ABCs. The point being that even though you could throw someone in the deep end on a documentary film, this is not because it is easier to make a documentary film than it is to make a drama, but perhaps because our society values documentary films less than fiction. The ability to “never to stop looking, never to stop responding to the world around one,” the trait Richard Leacock admired in Robert Flaherty and thought the most difficult discipline, is one of the hardest for a first time filmmaker to get to grips with. As the story changes, the filmmaker needs to be thinking about how the changes may be worked into the film and needs to ensure that the footage will make sense of all the unscripted real life drama, while the first time fiction filmmaker does not have this challenge.

The second idea popularly held about documentary films in South Africa that the book made me revisit is the one that tells us that documentary films don’t make money. The story of documentary from 1895 through to the Second World War is one of a receptive audience and willing sponsors. People were fascinated by the faces and images from the world around them. Documentaries had cinema releases, which were sold out and during World War II, documentary was more popular than fiction. In fact, throughout these heady first fifty years, documentary was more popular than fiction. First of all documentary led the way in technical developments and secondly, it was able to show people themselves, it was able to take them around the world, and it was able to place them at world events as they happened. Documentary was not for a niche market, it was for the world.

To read the rest of the writer's thoughts, please increase traffic to my site.

24 January 2011

Strategic Workshop 2011 Images

The DFA Board had its strategic workshop on Saturday 22 January 2011. The aim of the workshop is to make us a stronger association with direction and outcomes that we can measure.

Here are some images from Cape Town for your amusement:

Using the latest technology at our disposal, we met in the three main centres: Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

A close-up on the tv screen: Johannesburg at the top, Durban on the bottom left and Cape Town at the bottom right.

In Cape Town we thought the best way to tackle this workshop was from the couch.

One of the main outcomes of the workshop is to move Dylan Valley (seen above) from Youth Portfolio to Feline Portfolio.

Documentary Films at Sundance

Hopes high at Sundance that Project Nim will ape success of Man on Wire

Film festival hoping its non-fiction premieres will be Oscar big hitters following success of 2008 James Marsh documentary

In theory, Tinseltown should be on tenterhooks ahead of Tuesday's Oscar nominations. In fact, attention is focused 625 miles east, on Park City, Utah, where the candidates for next year's Academy Awards are enjoying their first public airing, in front of ski-booted and suited stars such as Pierce Brosnan, Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Williams, Paul Rudd and Jason Reitman.

Sundance, the festival established by Robert Redford in 1978, earned its spurs as an incubator for films which would go on to be big hitters at the following year's Oscars. But while that reputation has become more erratic with fiction films, its form with documentaries is still unsurpassed.

This year's festival is eager to repeat the trick of last year, when its non-fiction premieres populated half the Oscar nomination shortlist. Indeed, it has retooled its programme to do so. A new Documentary Premieres sidebar has been created to showcase less recognisable non-fiction film-makers – a move prompted by Sundance's popularity with big-name directors, who jostle for the top spots in the schedule.

This year's coveted opening night showcase went to Project Nim, the latest from British documentarian James Marsh, whose 2008 film Man on Wire, about tightrope-walker Philippe Petit's wobbly odyssey between the Twin Towers, won the Oscar after premiering at Sundance. Nim chronicles the life of a chimp that was taught sign language and raised like a child. The experiment itself met with mixed, mucky results though had the film critics in raptures.

"I think [Sundance] is the beginning of a film's life," said Marsh. "I think you will see some great documentary films this time, and I'm sure some of them will be very, very present in the next awards season."

Other blockbuster documentaries on the radar include the latest from Morgan Spurlock, whose Sundance premiered fast-food expose Super Size Me was Oscar nominated in 2004. This time he's presenting The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, about product placement, while Britain's Kevin Macdonald, whose career has straddled documentary (One Day in September), fiction (The Last King of Scotland) and the lucrative seam in between (Touching the Void), will present Life in a Day, a crowd-sourced experiment culled from thousands of hours of camcorder footage shot on 24 July 2010.

Fiction features whipping up advance press include Red State, Kevin Smith's horror film about a world overrun by Christian fundamentalists, Higher Ground, the directing debut of Up in the Air star Vera Farmiga, and The Loved Ones, a wedding farce with Demi Moore.

Yet the supremacy of the documentary is surely confirmed by the news that one of the hottest tickets in town is Constance Marks' Sesame Street study Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey. As wags have already taken to saying: only a muppet would miss it.

More at The Guardian site.

Follow Sundance on twitter

It Pays to Resign

Former ABC group CEO Solly Mokoetle’s departure package was R3.4 million.

The SABC board released the figure yesterday after the intervention of Communications Minister Roy Padayachie.

Padayachie had a meeting with the board yesterday and told it to make the details public “in the interests of transparency and accountable governance”. Mokoetle and the SABC jointly announced his decision to resign on Wednesday, but refused to divulge how much he’d received, saying it had been agreed this would be confidential.

While Mokoetle denied receiving a golden handshake, the failure to provide any details led to wild speculation that he’d pocketed as much as R30m – a sum categorically denied. Opposition parties, meanwhile criticised the secrecy, arguing that the SABC was a public-funded institution.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago yesterday said Mokoetle had been paid R3.4 million. While Mokoetle’s contract had four years left to run, the payment amounts to one year’s salary, as well as leave and pension benefits.

“While wanting to respect the confidentiality of the settlement, it is in the interests of transparency and to put an end to negative and incorrect media reports that the board has decided to make the disclosure,” said Kganyago.

Approached for comment, Mokoetle said as part of the agreement between him and the SABC, he could not discuss the matter.

During his meeting with the SABC board yesterday Padayachie urged swift action in appointing a new CEO. The embattled public broadcaster has had its chief financial officer, Robin Nicholson, acting in the position since Mokoetle was suspended last August.

Disciplinary proceedings against Mokoetle – for alleged breach of contract and failure to craft a turnaround strategy – fall away with his resignation, averting what could have been a long, costly legal battle.

Mokoetle told the Saturday Star this week the past six months had taken a “strenuous toll” on him and his family. His relationship with the SABC board had broken down “irreconcilably”, but the parting of the ways was “amicable”.

However, an SABC board member, who asked not to be named, said arriving at a settlement with Mokoetle had not been plain sailing.

“Solly wanted R1.5m extra for his legal fees. We told him that was not going to happen,” the source said.

Former Group CEO Dali Mpofu received a golden handshake of around R14 m.

Mokoetle’s suspension came just eight months after his appointment.

It’s been suggested he will be redeployed in the Department of Communications, but Padayachie’s spokesman, Tiyani Rikhotso, denied that the minister had appointed him to any position. - Saturday Star

Ministry of Communications on SABC's CEO's resignation

Ministry of Communications statement, 21 January 2011

Minister Padayachie meets SABC Board

The Minister of Communications Mr Radhakrishna "Roy" Padayachie today met with the board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to discuss developments at the public broadcaster.

The minister was apprised of recent issues, including the resignation of Mr Solly Mokoetle as Group CEO.

He commended the board for their approach to the corporation's protracted dispute with the former GCEO, and he was briefed about details of the settlement reached by the two parties thereof.

In line with principles of transparency and accountable governance, the minister has requested the board to announce to the public details of the settlement.

Minister Padayachie also recommended to the board to move swiftly in advertising and filling key vacant positions, including that of the GCEO.

"Following my meeting with the board of directors of the SABC this morning, and having received a detailed report on matters pertaining to the corporations reporting obligations to Parliament, the execution of the turn-around strategy and preparations for the upcoming local government elections, I'm confident that the SABC board and management are making progress and things are looking positive for the public broadcaster," says Minister Padayachie.

The minister assures the board of his continuous support as the corporation seeks to execute its programme to stabilise the public broadcaster, efforts that will ensure the delivery of better broadcasting services to the public.


Tiyani Rikhotso

Tel: 012 427 8010

Cell: 083 800 9936 for

Issued by: Department of Communications

21 Jan 2011

SASFED on the SABC's CEO's resignation

Please click the image to read the statement.

Hunt for SABC CEO

The SABC has begun the search for a new group CEO and its board is expected to meet soon to discuss a head-hunting strategy.

CEO Solly Mokoetle resigned on Wednesday after a protracted battle with the broadcaster's board following his suspension last year.

Advertisements for the post are expected to be placed soon.

Mokoetle, one of the briefest- serving SABC group CEOs, is said to have walked away with a golden handshake of millions, eight months into his job.

But neither he nor the corporation will reveal the terms of the settlement, citing a confidentiality clause.

Mokoetle was appointed by the SABC board in December 2009 but did not start work until January 4 last year.

He was suspended on full pay in September after claims by the board that he failed to devise a turnaround strategy for the finance-strapped broadcaster.

Minister of Communications Radhakrishna "Roy" Padayachie commended both the SABC board and Mokoetle for the "mature" way in which they handled the protracted dispute .

Padayachie said he hoped that Mokoetle's resignation would allow the board to start focusing on stabilising the SABC and creating an environment conducive to the implementation of a turnaround strategy.

"The importance of a stable public broadcaster, that functions optimally to meet its mandate, cannot be overemphasised," he said.

He said that in recent months the SABC had been bedevilled by reports of tension between board members and senior management, a total breakdown of corporate governance and financial instability leading to cash flow difficulties.

The rest at the Times Live site.