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.

04 March 2011

How Much Does it Really Cost to Make an Oscar Nominated Documentary

Jennifer Redfearn thought she'd be finishing her film in a homeless shelter. Instead, she's making her way to the red carpet.

Name: Jennifer Redfearn
Age: 35
Location: New York, NY

Why we care: In June 2008, documentary filmmaker Jennifer Redfearn came across a story about the inhabitants of the Carteret Islands near Papua New Guinea, and was shocked to learn that the people were among the first in world being displaced by climate change. Rising oceans were engulfing their island and contaminating their fresh water, forcing the inhabitants to seek new homes.

"I thought, 'I have a background in environmental science and journalism, and if I didn't know this was happening, then probably a lot of other people don't know this,'" she says. "It struck me as an incredibly compelling story to tell."

Redfearn set out to document the islanders' story on film, and produced her first independent documentary, Sun Come Up. She's now headed for the red carpet this week — Sun Come Up is nominated for an Academy Award in the "Best Documentary Short" category.

Read more.

03 March 2011

Prison Valley

A web documentary set in Canon City, Colorado, USA.

Please watch the film here.

Free Production Music

Please click on the image to visit the site.

Martin Cuff responds to the CFC

SAASP's Martin Cuff has responded to Denis Lillie on the resignations of SAASP and CPA from the board of the Cape Film Commission.

Dear Kevin

I noted with interest the Film Commissioner's specific referencing of me with regard to the Corporate Governance of the CFC organisation.

I left the film commission in early 2005 and since that time there have been four Acting Managers or Commissioners in the office. Whilst I admit that I was responsible for building the commission from zero into a functioning organisation with 14 staff at its height and a successful oversight of an operational film office to boot, it is completely bizarre to think that nothing has changed in the interim since my departure - not even the filing, apparently! I must have been doing a really great job for my efforts to have been so cast in stone!

I should add, during my time, the CFC appointed a consultant specifically to draft and apply a thorough corporate governance document that would manage the way the organisation ran. That consultant went on to become a Board Member and ultimately an acting Manager of the Cape Film Commission, and as of January 2011 was still advising the Board on its corporate governance responsibilities. Interesting that the Commissioner chooses to personally target me rather than the person who actually drafted the governance documents, and has been involved in the CFC at the highest levels - and specifically for his corporate governance experience - ever since.

I have learned a great deal about corporate governance through my work with film commissions at national, provincial and city levels across three continents, since I began at the CFC in 2006!

Two other things: As a Section 21, should not all documents including articles, membership lists, record of decisions, financials etc. - be entirely in the public domain and published on the website? It's one of the principles of the PMA as far as I recall. This regime of secrecy goes entirely against the principles of governance.

Further more, although the CFC's filing records may have gone missing in the last 6 years (my fault again, I guess, for not leaving clear enough instructions in April 2005) those of us with more than 10 weeks experience in the industry do at least have a memory record. The Board was originally structured to rotate 2 association seats between IPO, CPA and SAASP bi-annually, but we lobbied in 2002 to make all three seats permanent, and to rotate our members according to the CFC's structure. If this information is missing from the Commissioners docuuments, then the later decision to add extra SMME / BEE seats to represent aspiring filmmakers must also be missing, since that was agreed at the Board meeting of 2004/5. I wonder how the aspirant industry will respond to that?

Read further here.

CFC Responds to CPA and SAASP Resignations

Just 10 weeks after Denis Lillie took over as The Cape Film Commissioner, well before he’s even hired any staff, he’s already facing a major challenge: The Commercials Producers Association (CPA) and The South African Stills Producers Association (SAASP) have both resigned their seats on The Cape Film Commission (CFC) board as a vote of no confidence. The Callsheet’s editor Kevin Kriedemann asked him some hard questions.

This morning’s press release from The Commercials Producers Association (CPA) and The South African Stills Producers Association (SAASP) gave a number of reasons for their resignations from the Cape Film Commission (CFC) board and their vote of no confidence. Firstly, they said that the Commission “refused to take up matters which adversely affect the industry in favour of costly events and unnecessary international marketing trips,” which presumably referred to your recent trip to The Berlin Film Festival. Why did you go to Germany?

It was a surprising remark because the board representatives from SAASP and CPA both proposed at the first board meeting I attended in December that I should represent the CFC at the trips abroad. It was seen as important for me to experience how the markets worked and network with film commissioners from around the world. It was already on the agenda when I was appointed; it was also in my contract of employment which was approved by the board.

One of the big positives was meeting the South African embassy in Berlin, where we agreed to host an industry day and high level reception next year with the Berlin CoProduction Market to showcase German-SA co-productions.

The trip to Berlin and my time in London proved to be an exceptional marketing opportunity. What I was hearing overwhelmingly is that the word is out that we’re open for business.

As a consequence of meetings with other film commissions and The UK Film Council, we were referred to at least three feature films that we expect to film here and which have asked The CFC to act as an enabler.

At Berlin it was also fantastic to sit in an audience of over 1 000 people and see Mama Afrika get a standing ovation.

The press release referred to “a culture of denial” at The CFC. When you went to Berlin, were you unaware of the locations problems?

I have been spending most of my time addressing the locations and permits issues directly with our members, including representatives of the CPA and SAASP.

I only received a copy of the CPA Locations Recovery Plan in early January as for some reason the CPA and SAASP board members hadn’t passed me a copy it. Until then, I wasn’t aware of its existence. After reading it, I made a point that it seemed a valid document, so I’m very aware of the permitting locations issues that need to be smoothed out.

I am not sure why they are referring to a culture of denial as there have not been any denials made in relation to the location and permits issue within the CFC or the CTFPO. In fact it is the opposite and I’ve had frequent meetings, email exchanges and phone calls with the Film Office and the City’s Department for Economic Development about industry concerns and how we can escalate the situation. Just before I left for Berlin, I had called for a meeting with MEC Alan Winde, Alderman Felicity Purchase and key representatives from The City and Province, who at that meeting committed to addressing and resolving the problems.

The Cape Town Film Permit Office is funded directly by the City of Cape Town and it is their responsibility to make that work as well as possible. Our role is to act as an interface to highlight the issues which are compromising the industry, which we did and are having some success with.

I am sure that industry appreciate that the locations issues is a problem experienced internationally. Although we still need to deal with our matters seriously, most busy cities around the world have road closures and permit and miscommunication problems.

Read the rest of the interview here.

4 new SABC Board Members Chosen

Cape Town - Parliament's communications portfolio committee on Tuesday recommended four new appointees for the SA Broadcasting Corporation's board.

Those whose names will now go to the National Assembly for approval are:
- Safcol senior executive Dr Sethe Makesha;
- businessman John Danana;
- advocate and business consultant Cawekazi Mahlati; and,
- Media Development and Diversity Agency CEO Lumke Mtimde.

The appointments are replacements for former SABC board deputy chair Felleng Sekha, and members Barbara Masekela, David Niddrie, and Makgatho Mello, who all resigned last year.


In a statement on Tuesday, the Democratic Alliance said it had concerns about the nomination of Mtimde.

"We must voice our strong concerns over the nomination of ANC and SACP member, Lumko Mtimde, a candidate greatly supported by the ANC Youth League and steamrolled [sic] into this nomination by the ANC despite strong objections over his compromised record on media freedom," DA communications spokesperson Natasha Michael said in a statement.

In a column on the ANC's website last year, Mtimde welcomed the ruling party's mooted Media Appeals Tribunal, saying the country "should welcome the proposal and debate its modality such that the outcome serves the intended objectives".

Michael said it was "inappropriate" for someone who was in favour of a body that "shuts down and regulates expression and speech" to be appointed to the SABC board.

"The public broadcaster should be mandated to relay all information and news accurately and fairly, without any fear of state censorship.

"On these grounds, the nomination of Mr Mtimde by an ANC majority vote seems counter-productive, especially given the currently hazardous state of the SABC and its reputation," she said.

However, her party was pleased with the nomination of Makhesha.

"If approved, we hope she will bring a sense of integrity and even-handedness to the board," she said.

Original article here.

02 March 2011

DFA Press Release on the Appointment of the New Cape Film Commissioner

The leading organisation for documentary filmmakers in South Africa, the Documentary Filmmakers' Association (DFA), has expressed its support over the appointment of Denis Lillie as the Cape Film Commissioner.

The DFA represents the interests of South African documentary filmmakers. Since its inception the organisation has been actively engaged in the transformation of the documentary sector.

After two meetings with the newly appointed Commissioner, the DFA is encouraged by his accessibility. Denis Lillie has demonstrated his openness to working with all members of the South African filmmaking community. Documentary film is an untapped and unexplored source of economic activity in South Africa, but Lillie has indicated that he will travel this unfamiliar road with local documentary filmmakers. For hundreds of SMME producers who previously generated content for and income through the SABC this is heartening and suggests the potential for growth of documentary film that has been stifled in numerous ways in the past.

Denis Lillie met with representatives from the DFA Western Cape soon after his appointment and tabled a proposal to include the DFA and the documentary industry in the CFC's new five year strategy plan. The CFC Board accepted the proposal to co-opt the DFA onto the board in recognition of the role of documentary film in the province. The DFA looks forward to inputting constructively in developing this genre within the province and we look forward to a positive relationship with the new CEO and the CFC.

In the past the DFA has had a good working relationship with the CFC and has had support from the CFC on various projects. The Documentary sector's role in the Western Cape is both economic and social and the DFA believes a strong documentary voice on the CFC board is required to ensure the growth of our industry. We appreciate the recognition of this by the new CEO.

The CFC has under the new Commissioner's leadership most recently supported a DFA/CFC seminar on Commercial Documentaries for the International Market as part of our Professional Development Programme.

The DFA supports the new CEO's hands-on and tangible attempt to engage the documentary industry and his acknowledgment of our contribution to the development of the film industry in the Western Cape.

The DFA believes that filmmakers need to be able to work with someone like Lillie, who in his brief period at the helm of the CFC, has shown he is able to grasp the complex issues, passions and interests of the film industry landscape. The DFA is confident that he will work with all filmmakers to find an appropriate way forward.

Issued by the Documentary Filmmakers' Association (DFA)

01 March 2011

Film Organisations Quit Cape Film Commission

Two of the leading trade associations in the film production industry announced today that they are quitting the Film Commission in the Western Cape in protest against the mismanagement of the Commission and its shoddy treatment of the industry.

The Commercial Producers Association (CPA), which represents 45 production companies with a collective annual turnover of R1 billion per year, and The South African Association of Stills Producers (SAASP), which has a membership of 30 companies and generates over R500 million per annum in foreign investment in Cape Town alone, expressed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the CEO and board of The Cape Film Commission, which is a jointly funded agency of the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape that is mandated to promote and develop the film sector in the region with an operating budget of around R10 million per year.

The two organizations, which represent around 70% of the economically active film production sector in the Western Cape and the production interests of both local and international multinationals and advertising agencies, cited a number of reasons for their resignations, which were tabled at a Film Commission board meeting on Wednesday last week.

Among these were the Commission’s refusal to take up matters which adversely affect the industry in favour of costly events and unnecessary international marketing trips; the Commission’s history of mismanagement, poor corporate governance and compliance; the Commission’s role as a gatekeeper rather than an enabler of the industry and recent moves by the board and CEO to silence the industry’s voice by implementing spurious protocols which prevent accountability and transparency.

The rest here.

DTI B-BBEE Policy Framework Workshop - CAPE TOWN 4 March 2011

The DTI will be holding one day information and awareness workshops on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Policy framework for the DTI film incentives scheme.

The workshops will take place in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The DTI will discuss the practical application of the policy framework that has recently been approved by the Minister with the B-BBEE verification agents and industry partners.

Please click on the invitation above for details of the first of the workshops in Cape Town on 4 March 2011.

28 February 2011

Community Television Distribution research Workshop

Dear Partner

As someone who has produced content for Cape Town TV or indicated an interest in producing content for Cape Town TV, we would like to invite you to an Industry Dialogue which will be taking place on Friday, 11 March, 2011 on AFDA campus, where CTVs studio is located.

The purpose of the Industry Dialogue is to engage with members of the independent television production community on Cape Town Television’s Terms of Trade and commissioning practices and to put out a call for content for specific programmes that we intend to outsource to independent producers.

The Industry Dialogue is taking place in the context of a larger "Industry Dialogue" being hosted by Rainbow Circle Films, The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) and the Cape Town Film Commission on the 11-12 March, 2011. We urge you to look at the full programme attached which we believe will be of great practical benefit to film makers seeking to reinvent their way of operating in the ever-changing context in which we are working today.

Specifically, we advise you to attend the workshops on Financing Content and Alternative Distribution Models which we believe will enhance independent producers’ capacity to finance and distribute their own content in partnership with CTV.

Should you wish to attend the whole event or part thereof please RSVP

We look forward to this long overdue opportunity to engage with the television production industry.

Kind regards,

Thabo Bopape
Programme Manager
Cape Town TV
Tel: 021 447 4381

Bloodbath over SABC Top Jobs

February 27 2011 at 08:22am
By George Matlala

The SABC is embarking on a sweeping restructuring drive set to slash almost half of its top management. The Sunday Independent understands that as part of the turn-around strategy, which is to be unveiled in Parliament next month, the troubled public broadcaster could fire as many as 40 managers to overhaul its bloated top structure.

SABC 1 general manager Ray Nkwe; Thami Ntenteni, head of public broadcasting services: radio; Collin Mackenzie, general manager: entertainment and Nhlanhla Sibisi, acting content enterprises head, are top on the list of senior managers who have been shown the door by the corporation.

Mackenzie and Nkwe confirmed that they had received letters informing them of their sacking, as acting group CEO Robin Nicholson, with the blessing of the SABC board, wields the proverbial axe.

“I can confirm that I got the letter,” Mackenzie said, adding that he would not comment further as he was still in negotiations with the SABC.

The news of their departure comes hot on the heels of the axing of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s wife Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande, whose position was dissolved to cut costs.

Ntombela-Nzimande reportedly received a R1.7 million retrenchment package.

Talk was rife that controversial group executive manager in the office of Nicholson, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, a known ANC and President Jacob Zuma supporter, was earmarked to replace her.

The SABC was preparing to present its turn-around plan to Parliament on March 15.

The radical changes at the corporation’s helm come in the run-up to the local government elections, during which political parties will be scrambling for coverage.

Sources at the SABC said the public broadcaster’s bosses noted at last week’s workshop on the turn-around strategy that there will be drastic changes at senior level.

SABC board chairman Ben Ngubane and the leadership of the three unions at the corporation were present at the meeting, held in Aloe Ridge, outside Krugersdorp.

A board member who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Sunday Independent that the SABC’s management structure had to be cut down to size because there were “too many managers” running the show.

The member said the board wanted to cut down the 80-plus management structure to at least 40.

“We want to change, there were too many managers,” the member said.

It is understood that five of the top 15 executives were on their way out.

“There was a time when people were hired willy-nilly,” the board member said.

It was hoped that the reduction of the headcount would help the SABC save millions, after it was R800m in the red at some point.

In November 2009, the government gave the troubled corporation a R1 billion bailout and demanded that it produce a detailed plan with cost-cutting measures to get R500m more. However, the turn-around strategy caused ructions in the board and saw former CEO Solly Mokoetle resigning last month after a protracted battle with the board.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago refused to be drawn on the contents of the strategy, saying the document had to be presented to Parliament before it could be discussed in public.

“It would be improper to talk about the contents of the turn-around strategy before it is presented to Parliament,” he said.

Kganyago said the departure of senior managers at the SABC could not necessarily be attributed to the restructuring but was a normal occurrence as many were on contracts, some of which were not being renewed.

“All the executives at the SABC are on contract and people’s contracts expired before and they left even before the turn-around strategy,” he said.

Unions at the SABC welcomed the move to reduce the top structure of the organisation.

Communication Workers Union deputy secretary Thabo Mogalane said:

“The structure was bloated and full of unnecessary positions,” he said. - Sunday Independent

Letter from Denis Lillie

Dear Members

I had promised to get back to you following my trip to the Berlin Film Festival.

The trip was very eventful and worthwhile. On the way to Berlin through London I met with BBC Sport. The BBC had a legacy component built into our agreement with them for the 2010 World Cup. The Head of BBC Sport and Head of Production have agreed to return to Cape Town to give a Master Class on the broadcasting of an event of this magnitude around the world. They have also agreed to incorporate into this presentation on the broadcasting of Formula 1 motor racing both street and circuit races. This will hopefully take place in early May.
I was privileged to be invited to a screening of Mama Africa, a documentary on the life of the late Miriam Makeba. The film received an ovation from the 1000+ audience and there are plans to release it with Zulu and Xhosa sub-titles. The CFC is in dialogue with the Producers on how best to show this film locally.

Many meeting were held with my counterparts from France, Germany, UK and Italy amongst other countries. Lessons were learnt and ideas exchanged, some of which have already been shared with Cape Town Film Permit Office for adoption.

As a direct result of a meeting with the British Film Council I was put in touch with Ealing Studios in London. I met with them on my way back through. They have secured the film rights of three “thriller” novels written by a South African. They are hoping to go into production and film in and around Cape Town later this year. They have already secured a Cape Town based production party and are looking at the viability of filming here. The CFC has offered assistance to the studios and we will advise you in due course what is required locally. In the meantime I am sure you can drop them a line through their web-site.

I also met with our representatives at the South African Embassy in Berlin. We have agreed that for next years’ festival we will co-host a South Africa evening in partnership with the festival organisers. This will include showing a couple of local and Co-production films followed by a networking session sponsored by the embassy.

MEC Alan Winde is especially excited by this prospect and commented “ This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Western Capes’ film industry. It will also give us the opportunity to further develop our relationships with our German Co-production partners. We will be supporting this and look forward to becoming involved once the details have been ironed out”.


I am pleased to report that Mr Mansoor Mohammed of the City of Cape Town has committed to increasing the resourcing of the CTFPO and is reviewing and streamlining the process as I write. He is also looking into the possibility of extending the working hours of the team there. The additional resourcing will hopefully be in place for next week.

This will lead to an immediate benefit to our members. The proposals is as a direct result of our engagements earlier this month with MEC Winde, Ald. Purchase, Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism and Mr Mohammed from the City.

The Permit office has also begun the conversion of the permit issue from fax to e-mail. This I understand from members has already proved to be very successful and efficient.

I attended a strategic planning session with the City and the Permit office this afternoon. The meeting was extremely productive, the outcomes of which will be announced in more detail next Friday through a joint statement to our members from Mr Mohammed and myself.

In the meantime we are beginning to develop in earnest a proposal for Micro shoot permits.

Many thanks to all concerned


The CFC is currently reviewing its structures and Corporate Governance matters, this includes the structure of the Board going forward.

This review is to improve the running of the CFC and the services we offer to our Members. The implementation of improved and increased Corporate Governance will also lead to more compliant systems and controls leading to better functional management of our office environment.

As part of this improvement process we have identified a couple of clauses within the Articles of Association of the CFC which require review. Once these have been commented on with legal opinion, we will advise the Members and request discussion and comments prior to inclusive consultation and implementation.

One of the key areas that is being reviewed is the structure of the Board as referred to above. The principal area for discussion being the representation of industry on the CFC Board. It was noted that both the SAAPS and CPA appear to have had representation on the Board for longer than a 2 year period. The Articles state that no organisation or person can have a seat on the board for more than 2 consecutive years. This would be avoided under the proposed changes we are looking to implement in the Articles.

I can also advise you that as of this week the CPA and SAAPS and two of their associated members and one of our SMME directors have resigned from the CFC Board.

Also at the CFC Board meeting earlier this week, a motion was tabled that the Documentary Film Makers Association should be offered a co-opted seat on the Board. This motion was accepted and they will be invited to join the Board with immediate effect

The filling of the vacated seats on the Board is also being reviewed in tandem with legal opinion on the structure of the Board moving forward. Ultimately any decision made will lead to a more balanced and streamlined Board for the future.


The CFC have been sponsoring the Design Indaba Film Festival, limited complimentary tickets are available for some of the remaining films such as the Oscar nominated “ Exit through the Gift Shop”. We also have a limited number of complimentary tickets for the Design Indaba main event.

Both are available through the web-site.

We have had very successful follow up meetings with the NFVF, DTI, National Department of Art and Culture and with MEC Winde and Ald. Purchase. All of these meetings were related to the on-going support for the industry and the CFC. We would like to take this opportunity for the support shown by these agencies and individuals and I look forward to sharing further information on these engagements next month.

In the meantime, go out there and make some great films and make some money. We are here to assist and support, please contact us anytime.

All the Best
Denis Lillie

To receive the newsletter, sign-up at the Cape Film Commission's site.

Cutaway Post Interviews Filmmakers

DFA member, Johan Walters runs a blog that publishes Johan's interviews with South African film editors. Here is an extract from his recent interview with Nikki Comninos, editor of SAFTA nominee for best editing of My Beautiful Game:

My Beautiful Game is a 13 part documentary series that explores African football within its broader historical, cultural and anthropological narratives. The show covers stories across the entire African continent. There is a kaleidoscope of geography, politics, and national characteristics as one traverses the continent from Cairo to Lagos to Cape Town.

The specific, SAFTA nominated episode, Fish Out of Water, is an exploration of the challenges facing African footballers lured over to Europe by lucrative contracts. It looks at the issues of acclimatizing to a foreign environment, the loneliness and the alienation.

Directed by Marc Rowlston and produced by Jason Hoff.

CUTAWAY: How would you describe what makes editing a docci unique to other genres?
NIKKI: I think that documentary editing is unique because of the amount problem solving that goes into it. You need to think about narrative, about mood, about pace and about structure – and often you find none of that has been planned, or can be planned. It all happens in post.

CUTAWAY: What was the timespan to cut My Beautiful Game?
NIKKI: My beautiful Game is a 13 part series, of which I edited 9. I worked on the series for 4 months.

CUTAWAY: What format was it shot on?
NIKKI: It was shot on the Phantom camera, Bolex and the Sony XDCAM.

Read the rest of the at the Cutaway site.

Birds Eye View Film Festival 2011

Birds Eye View Film Festival 2011 - Celebrating Women Filmmakers
8 - 17 March at BFI Southbank, ICA and Southbank Centre

The 7th Birds Eye View Film Festival showcases the most inspiring, enchanting and challenging work by international women filmmakers. Highlights include Soul Boy, Kenyan-Ghanian director Hawa Essuman's adventure about a boy who sets out to find who's stolen his father's soul, filmed on location in Nairobi's Kibera slum. Plus new films from around the world, including Susanne Bier's Golden Globe-winning In A Better World and Suha Arraf's insightful and extraordinary Women of Hamas.

For more information and booking details visit

Stereobank 3D Stock Footage

Stereobank is a stock footage marketplace where 3D-TV producers, advertisers or device manufacturers can find stereoscopic video clips for their 3D-film projects.

Stereobank gathered worldwide filmmakers to produce high quality 3D content ready to be broadcasted on television or played on glasses-free 3D devices. The 3D lifestyle and sport collections are leading the market and can be previewed on any monitors thanks to the versatile player of

Any clip from the collections lifestyle, sport, nature, business, macro and time-lapse 3D start at $250.

The team will be at NAB 2011, next April in Las Vegas, in the Content Central.

You can find more information here:

Eco Kids Submission Extension


The ECO KIDS FILM INITIATIVEis happy to announce that due to popular demand the deadline for submissions has been extended until 31 March 2011. The organizers would like to thank the filmmakers who entered on time. This does not affect the selection process or the notification date of 31 July 2011.

The ECO KIDS FILM INITIATIVEis committed to show films that entertain, educate and inspire environmental awareness in the youth of today. The films should be between 2 minutes to 15 minutes in length. EKFI accept documentaries and narratives that are either live-action or animated.

For more information and the entry form visit While You Were Sleeping or email Tarien Roux at