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.

11 June 2011

Out in Africa Encourages You to Attend Encounters

Back for our cinematic pleasure is the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in its 13th year. As always the festival shows an array of lifestyles and this year they have again splashed in two documentaries that will be of interest to queer cinema lovers.

G-Spotting: A Story of Pleasure and Promise looks at the mystery of the Grafenberg Spot and the debate about it's existence along with the expectations and controversy around the G-Spot.

Glitterboys and Ganglands gives us an intimate look at the Miss Gay Western Cape pageant and brings us into the lives of some of the contestants taking us onto a heart warming journey of the day to day lives of the lovely queens. Director Lauren Beukes has just won the Arthur C Clarke award for her scifi novel Zoo City too.

There will be panel discussions and question and answer sessions for both movies.

The festival kicks off on the 9th of June and rolls on til the 26th, so be sure to catch the above two and other offerings on the programme. For more info visit and you can also check out trailers of the doccies on the Encounters facebook page,

Watching the Watchdog

Department presents proposals to monitor the performance of the Independent Communications Authority of SA council.

Published: 2011/06/08 06:35:24 AM

CAPE TOWN — The Department of Communications yesterday presented bold proposals to monitor the performance of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) council.
Icasa has in the past attracted criticism from Parliament and the communications sector, largely due to its perceived shortcomings in regulating the sector.

More recently, the authority was criticised for taking time to finalise its decisions. It was taken to task for dragging its feet in regulating mobile termination rates, which are what operators need to pay each other for calls across networks.

In a presentation to MPs , communications department acting deputy director-general Norman Munzhelele said the primary purpose of monitoring and evaluating the performance of the Icasa council was to comply with the Icasa Act.

He said a robust mechanism was critical in evaluating and measuring the performance of the Icasa council. This was necessary if the government, Parliament and Icasa were to engage "constructively on the allocation of resources to maximise the achievement of outcomes as outlined by government".

Mr Munzhelele said some of the salient points about the performance management system would take into account issues of compliance and time frames. He said the management system would be linked to the authority’s financial year.

"As soon as the National Assembly approves the PMS (performance management system), individual performance agreements must be signed between the minister (of communications) and all the councillors," Mr Munzhelele said.

Icasa chairman Stephen Mncube said the Icasa council would "try and honour the objectives (of the proposal ) religiously". He said one of the biggest challenges facing the regulator was its failure to undertake impact studies because of budgetary constraints.

Communications portfolio committee chairman Sikhumbuzo Kholwane said MPs were satisfied with the proposed changes.

"I am sure we will soon be handing the document over to the minister (of communications) who will then hand it over to the speaker’s office," he said.

Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Michael said it "would be fantastic if Icasa implemented the performance management system". "I see no reason why (the system) should not go through.

"It would force departments to be more accountable," Ms Michael said.

Original article here.

09 June 2011

Delegate Registration Open for Second Durban FilmMart


Delegate registration is open for the second edition of the Durban FilmMart (22 - 25 July) and the line-up of speakers and topics on the programme promises a focussed look at the world of filmmaking in Africa from varied perspectives. DFM takes place during the Durban International Film Festival (21-31 July) to which accredited DFM delegates also have access. A core activity of DFM is the opportunity for selected projects to pitch their films to leading international financiers, sales agents, co-producers and funding organisations from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa on a one-to-one basis at the Finance Forum.

Durban Film Office's (DFO) Toni Monty notes that "126 qualifying projects were submitted in 2011, a significant increase from 2010's figure of 76 qualifying projects. The final selection, up from 12 projects in 2010 to 20 projects in 2011, is split between Feature Film and Documentary genres. "

Feature projects in the DFM 2011 selection are:
● 69 Midane el Messaha (69 Messaha Square), directed by Ayten Amin and produced by Ihab Ayoub; Egypt
● Ali Mea'za, directed by Ibrahim El Batout and produced by Hossam Elouan; Egypt
● Boda Boda Thieves, directed by Donald Mugisha and produced by James Tayler; South Africa
● Children of the Sand, directed by Ekwa Msangi-Omar and produced by Appie Matere; Kenya
● Imbabazi (The Pardon), directed and produced by Joel Karekezi; Rwanda
● Lock Yourself In, directed by Elan Gamaker and produced by Bridget Pickering; South Africa
● Midnight Dogs, directed by Lassaad Dkhili and produced by Guillaume de Seille; Tunisia
● Robin du Web (Robin of the Web, directed and produced by Veronique Doumbe; Cote D'Ivoire/ United States of America
● This Boy, directed by Kyle Lewis and produced by David Max Brown; South Africa
● Two Princes, directed by Philippa Ndisi-Hermann and produced by Atieno Odenyo; Kenya

Continuing its support of African filmmaking, the Hubert Bals Fund will again present an award for the most promising film project. Three projects will also be invited to the Rotterdam Producers Lab as part of the partnership with Cinemart and the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Peter Rorvik, director of the Durban International Film Festival adds, "Alongside the fiction features, this year we have strengthened opportunities for documentaries, working closely with the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) in setting up documentary pitching sessions to commissioning editors and financiers. " IDFA and the Jan Vrijman Fund will offer accreditation and accommodation at IDFA 2011 for two selected documentary projects. In addition, PUMA.Creative is offering a range of awards: a PUMA.Creative Catalyst Award and a number of PUMA.Creative MobilityAwards, all of which will be adjudicated by Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation.

The selected documentary projects for DFM 2011 are:
● The Black President, directed by Adze Ugah and produced by Anna Teeman; Nigeria/ United Kingdom
● Femme á la Came ra, directed by karima Zoubir and produced by Hicham Brini; Morocco
● En Terre Inconnue, directed by Ariane Astriid Mbourou and produced by Cyrille Masso; Cameroon
● Fidai , directed by Damien Onouri and co-produced by Mathien Muller and Alexander Singer; Algeria/ France
● Homage to the Buddha, directed and produced by Nicole Schafer; South Africa
● I, Afrikaner, directed by Annalet Steenkamp and produced by Lauren Groenewald; South Africa
● Naana La Reine Mere (Naana, Queen Mother), directed and produced by Jean-Marie Teno; Cameroon
● Ndiyindoda (I am a Man) , directed by Mayenzeke Baza and produced by Bryony Roughton; South Africa
● Return to Zimbabwe, directed and produced by Xoliswa Sithole; South Africa
● Rollaball, directed by Eddie Edwards and produced by Steven Markovitz; South Africa

Expert speakers
Parallel to the pitching sessions for selected projects, there are four days of seminars, workshops and masterclasses featuring industry experts and filmmakers. Exciting lead experts at Durban FilmMart this year include Juliane Schulze, Peter Broderick and Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich.

Juliane Schulze will present a session on Film Finance Fundamentals. She is Senior Partner at peacefulfish, a strategic media consulting company based in Berlin, specializing in content financing, and in particular in developing innovative financial solutions for audiovisual projects. As Executive Advisor, she has extensive cross-industrial knowledge, covering feature film, internet and mobile content. She advises international production companies as well as public institutions and works on several projects for the European Commission and MEDIA.

Peter Broderick will present on Distribution Techniques and will provide a guided tour of the worlds of "Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing". He is President of Paradigm Consulting, which helps filmmakers and media companies design and implement state-of-the-art distribution strategies. A key player in the growth of the ultra-low budget feature movement, Broderick has become one of the most influential advocates of digital moviemaking.

Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich founded Scarabee Films, which specializes in high-quality creative documentaries, short films and features and her productions have been repeat winners at both IDFA and Sundance. Naaijkens works with broadcasters including NPS, VPRO, AVRO (Netherlands); HBO, PBS, and VRT (Belgium), Arte (France/Germany), TV 7 and France 3 (France) and Télévision Suisse Romande (Switzerland) amongst others. Naaijkens will present on Documentary Finance Wizardry.

The Durban FilmMart is a joint venture between the Durban Film Office (DFO) and the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) created to raise the visibility of projects from the African continent and to facilitate financing and networking opportunities with potential co-producers and other industry players. To register as a delegate for the Durban FilmMart visit
For more information, contact Mona Pilane on e-mail
[] or and for assistance with delegate registration, Kamille Padayachee at []
Issued by the Durban Film Office and Durban International Film Festival

Ms Mona Pilane , Durban FilmMart cell: 073 681 1234 e-mail:
Tel: 031-311 4095 Fax: 031-311 4095

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

The Durban Film Office (DFO) is the film-industry development arm of the City of Durban, mandated to position Durban as a world-class film production destination and facilitator for the development of the local film industry. The DFO drives activity and development in the sector in order to boost tourism, job creation and the development of core skills and SMME's in the region. The organization is also actively seeking and creating opportunities for setting the benchmark as the leading authority in the field in South Africa.

The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is a flagship project of the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN). The CCA facilitates creative platforms and economic opportunities for artists and related industries, intercultural exchange and network development, training, audience development and strategic Pan-African and international cooperation in the cultural sectors. The CCA also produces three other major annual festivals - Time of the Writer, Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience and Poetry Africa.


The DFA's AGM has been scheduled!

DATE: 13 July 2011
TIME: 13h00 - 16h00
VENUE: tbc

08 June 2011

The Sum of All Fears

Independent producers are getting legal advice on whether they can hold the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to account for failing to adequately monitor the amount of local content on our screens.
According to Marc Schwinges, vice chairperson of the SA Screen Federation (SASFED), research undertaken by independent producers themselves appears to indicate that the all-important quotas could be short by 10 to 20 per cent.

This could translate into a loss of commissioned programming worth millions of rands for the industry, which has suffered hard times due to the on-going management and funding crises at the state broadcaster. The SABC is by far the country’s largest consumer of locally produced content.

“ICASA has not done their mandated duty in terms of ensuring compliance with local content quotas,” says Schwinges. SASFED, supported by a wide body of interested parties, agreed to explore legal options in an AGM last year, but thorough research was necessary first (it is now nearing completion).

ICASA is supposed to report regularly on compliance with quotas, but Schwinges says that only one report has been produced in the last nine years, and that it “basically concludes that [ICASA] does not have sufficient data to quantify the accuracy of anything the SABC is telling them”.

ICASA has admitted to parliament that they do not have the necessary equipment to monitor compliance with the quotas, which amounts to 55% of content from 4am to 11pm each day on SABC channels 1 and 2, and 35% on SABC 3.

ICASA spokesperson Paseka Maleka confirmed that purchasing new equipment needed to enable more accurate monitoring had been “in the pipeline” for some time, but had not yet arrived. Maleka says that presently, about 10 staff members work on monitoring content. They do spot checks to ensure quotas are met, and that no more than 12 minutes of advertising is flighted per hour. They also assess quarterly reports supplied by the SABC, which have been submitted consistently.

However, he agrees that “since the Authority [ICASA] did not have a monitoring system in place, it has been difficult to compile a compliance report based on the analysis of quarterly reports [provided by the SABC].” ICASA then “decided to use any possible solution at its disposal” to monitor compliance.

The last complete compliance report was for 2008/09 and only monitored SABC TV recordings from September to October 2008. ICASA did not supply a copy of the report despite a request.

“The report is by no means an exhaustive account of SABC”s annual compliance with its licence terms and conditions,” Maleka says. As it covered such a short period, “the Authority cannot conclusively deduce that the SABC did not comply with its … local content quotas” – or in other words, could not say it did.

Monitoring for the 2009/2010 report has been completed, Maleka says, but there is no timeline available for its release, and until it is finalised, he can’t comment on whether the SABC complied with the quotas or not.

The 2010 SABC annual report, which looks at performance measurement for 2009/2010, says the broadcaster met ICASA quotas and “all mandate content required [was] delivered fully except for TV’s marginalised languages”. This was due to the “production industry’s lack of capacity and competence in producing content in marginalised languages”.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago this week referred the Media Online this week to the annual report and declined to comment on ICASA’s monitoring mechanisms. Kganyago said that the SABC submitted quarterly reports to ICASA, had submitted its last report in April (for the period April 2010 to March 2011), and had met the quotas.

Do local content sums add up?

Calculating local content is a complex job, and there are concerns that it is not being done correctly. All minutes of shows aired for the first time count towards the quota, but a first rerun counts just 50% of time, while subsequent flightings cannot be counted, says Schwinges. Sport doesn’t count, and neither do commercials. Bonus points can be earned for programmes made outside the major cities, BEE-compliant companies or programmes made in the more “marginalised” of South Africa’s 11 languages – but monitoring this adequately is a nightmare, and figures can be abused.

Kate Skinner of the SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition says that ICASA must be able to hold the SABC to account. “One of ICASA’s key roles is monitoring local content quotas and license conditions, and making sure that the SABC’s radio and TV channels adhere to those quotas. That is what ensures it plays its public broadcaster role. And ICASA has openly admitted that it is not playing its monitoring role and has problems with equipment. It has to put the correct systems in place in order to be able to do that. There must be timelines on this.”

Both Skinner and Schwinges felt more transparent and accurate data needs to be supplied by the SABC. “The SABC annual report should give a lot more information than it does,” says Skinner.

She believes a full breakdown of programming, which includes data on how much is regionally made, is vital. “If most material is being made in Jo’burg and Cape Town, this means the rest of the country is not being covered as it should be – and yet this is the public broadcaster and it is mandated is to cover all areas, particularly those that are not covered by other broadcasters.”

“ICASA is required to ensure compliance of its own quotas,” says Schwinges. “Our concern is that there’s been a lack of transparency and reporting, and accurate data to measure compliance.”

Maleka says the SABC does submit “accurate data” and usually highlights when it was unable to meet (or where it exceeded) quotas. “The Authority has an obligation to analyse, therefore verifying the quarterly submissions against own monitoring,” he says.

Nothing to bid for

Independent Producers Organisation representative Harriet Gavshon agrees that ICASA needs to ensure quotas are met. She says that there is still very little new commissioning happening at the SABC – and budgets are lower than before, with heavy prescriptions on how funds can be spent. A current key issue for producers is the delay in the release of the Requests for Proposals book (RFP), which outlines projects for producers to bid on and is meant to encourage transparency in the commissioning process.

“We’ve been waiting since December 2010 for the last RFP,” Gavshon says. However, she says she understands the SABC needs to manage their content flow more closely and says there has been communication with the industry on the issue.

“The entire industry relies on the RFP as a fair and transparent way to respond to the needs of broadcaster scheduling,” says Schwinges. “If there is no RFP, there is no new programming coming into the mix, aside from unsolicited programming. This means that either existing programmes get extended or there isn’t anything new on television… which again is breaking the ICASA regulations.”

He does however, feel that a delayed bid book is better than producing one, and then have producers waste resources to bid, only to find that projects don’t get off the ground due to lack of funding.

Skinner says that while there have been subsequent books, the last “really substantial” RFP book was put out before the crisis, in 2008. A delayed book “means the independent producers industry is getting less and less work,” she says. “Which means less local content is being produced – and there are more and more repeats on air.”

Kganyago said that the SABC would communicate with the industry around the timeline for release of the RFP book “in due course”.

Original article here.

WGSA Writing Workshop with Thandi Brewer

Thandi Brewer will be presenting this fabulous hands-on workshop on how to write a KICK-ASS pitch for writers and aspiring writers. This is how it's going to work:

Thandi is taking INTERMEDIATE and ADVANCED writers through the whole fandango of what goes into writing a pitch.
Then FIFTEEN writers get to bring in their ideas, pitches, projects etc... and we are going to work through... reconstruct... polish, spit and buff through it!

Who is this workshop for?

FIFTEEN (15) Intermediate to Advanced writers who have pitches. (The first 15 who apply and pay up – R150.00)

INTERMEDIATE or ADVANCED writers may attend - you just need to pay in advance.

STUDENTS or BEGINNER writers may attend in an OBSERVER capacity. This means that for a reduced rate you may observe how writers deconstruct and workshop concepts. Unfortunately you may not participate. At the end there will be a 30 min Q&A session in which you can ask questions about process etc..


This is a FULL DAY workshop... and only light snacks will be provided.


If you would like your concept to be worked on: R150 / WGSA member or R300 for non-member

If you are attending: R100 / WGSA member or R200 for non-members

If you are a student or beginner writer (STUDENT CARD needs to be provided) R20 / WGSA members or R50 / non-members

PLEASE contact Thea and BOOK your spot at Also please note for catering and administrative purposes YOU NEED TO PAY UPFRONT! Thea will also provide you with bank details.

This is a really great opportunity to work with a giant in our Television and Film Industry (and for students to see what goes into creating a great show)... DON'T LET IT PASS YOU BY!

The Workshop will take place on the 18th of June at AFDA, 41 Frost Avenue, Auckland Park, JHB, at 9h00

Woodstock Film Festival

In the Spotlight this week is the 12th Annual WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL (WFF), attracting film and music lovers from around the world for a week of outstanding films, concerts, workshops, celebrity-led panels, an award gala, and fantastic parties. An intimate gathering set amidst the stunning vistas of historic Woodstock, New York, emerging filmmakers will find ample opportunity to rub elbows with top industry players and make excellent connections throughout the event.

Hailed by indieWIRE as a "True American Maverick Among Fests" and one of the "Top 50 Film Festivals in the World," the WFF is a hotbed for the best independent films year after year. Program highlights from the 2010 season include Oscar-winning short film GOD OF LOVE, sold-out screenings of HENRY'S CRIME followed by Q&A's with co-stars Keanu Reeves and Vera Farmiga, Spirit Award-winner MARWENCOL, and festival circuit darling STRANGER THINGS which went on to win Slamdance's Grand Jury Sparky Award. The Festival presents an independent and artistic atmosphere that seamlessly combines cultural, educational, and artistic endeavors. Actor Ethan Hawke recently praised WFF as "among the finest of a dying breed: a festival that isn't trying to sell you anything, but simply and beautifully celebrating the art and craft of filmmaking."

The industry's top actors, filmmakers, and industry members serve on the Awards Jury and present over $50,000 USD worth of cash awards and in-kind prizes. The Maverick Awards are presented for Best Feature, Documentary, Short Documentary, Short Film, Student Film, Cinematography, Editing, and Animation (sponsored by Blue Sky Studios), along with Audience Awards. Esteemed members of the film world who have participated include Ang Lee, Adrian Grenier, Steve Buscemi, Kevin Smith, Ethan Hawke, Vera Farmiga, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Woody Harrelson, Jonathan Demme, Richard Linklater, Edie Falco, Melissa Leo, and Tim Robbins as well as reps from IFC, Magnolia Pictures, Lionsgate, Fox Searchlight, Paramount, HBO, A&E, Focus Features, The Weinstein Company, Oscilloscope Laboratories, and more.

June 14, 2011 - Regular Deadline
Upgraded projects save $5 on this deadline

The Woodstock Film Festival presents an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music, and art-related activities that promote artists, culture, inspired learning, and diversity while striving to create sustainable economic development by attracting, supporting, and promoting film, video, and media production.

Participants and visitors find themselves in a casual environment that is conducive to creativity, networking, and an all-around good time, while surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. In addition to drawing sold-out audiences from the 20 million people who live within a two-hour drive, the Festival has attracted visitors from all parts of the country and the world.

Visit the web site.

Savannah Film Festival

Please click the image or visit the web site for details.

Public Service Broadcasting and the SABC

A perspective on public service broadcasting and the SABC
by Charlene Deacon
6 June 2011

A public broadcaster run by strong principled leaders who thrive on encouraging diversity and democracy will be able to cultivate the appropriate dynamic tension between the broadcaster, the public and all stakeholders, writes Charlene Deacon.

The ongoing debate around public broadcasting in South Africa took a new turn recently with the recall of the Public Service Broadcasting Bill by the Minister of Communications, Roy Padayachie.

One of the most contentious aspects of the Bill was the manner in which it proposed to re-engineer the financial support systems for the SABC (through, amongst other things, a one percent tax levy), in an effort to address the deterioration of its financial position over the last several years. In 2005 the SABC generated a profit in the order of R380 million, but in the last year or so it had to be bailed out by government with a R1.4 billion loan structured through Nedbank.

There are several factors behind this financial decline, but two in particular stand out: one is the current global recession, and another is poor financial management. Before considering these two factors in turn, it’s useful to understand where the SABC stands in relation to other public broadcasters.

According to the revised edition of Toby Mendel’s Public Service Broadcasting: A Comparative Legal Survey (2011), which examines the public broadcasters of Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Poland, Thailand, the United Kingdom and South Africa, all public broadcasters strive to serve the broadest public possible, by establishing and maintaining a national identity and culture, upholding democracy and freedom of expression, and furthering a plurality and diversity of voices. To this end a public broadcaster needs to be both free of political interference and economically independent.

The SABC is said to meet all these criteria of what defines a public broadcaster, except in the area of funding. Whereas most public broadcasters are heavily funded by their national governments, the SABC’s much stronger reliance on commercial funding could impact on the integrity of its programming should it choose to pander to advertisers’ instead of audiences’ needs. A second concern raised by Mendel is that although the SABC’s legislative and governance mechanisms are adequate enough to ensure independence from political interference, they are not being adhered to sufficiently well.

With regard to funding, the current global recession has impacted on all broadcasters, not just public broadcasters and not only the SABC. But it is certainly forcing public broadcasters worldwide to consider raising more of their funding on a commercial basis. According to Mendel, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has expressed concern that:
“In certain countries, the distinction between public service and commercial broadcasting has become increasingly blurred, leading to what is called “programme convergence”, to the detriment of the quality of the programmes offered by the former.”

In addition, Mendel suggests, the imposition of public interest obligations on private broadcasters, driven partly by technological changes, is making it “increasingly difficult for national governments to impose effective regulatory conditions along these lines”. At the same time the proliferation of commercial broadcasters, especially via the internet, poses a massive competitive challenge to existing public broadcasters.

Despite the growth of commercial broadcasters in South Africa, the SABC is still the dominant player, with 19 stations including Channel Africa and three national television channels. The pending allocation of three more commercial licenses to private players will bring the commercial world up to par with the SABC in terms of the sheer number of radio stations, but given that the SABC continues to command half of the adspend pie, and that commercial broadcasters already have promises of performance to adhere to, imposing public broadcaster mandates on commercial broadcasters is likely to be counterproductive. Besides, South Africa has an incredibly strong community broadcast sector whose primary focus is on serving their communities.

The second factor behind the SABC’s financial woes is that it appears to be unable to manage its finances appropriately. Some would argue that interference from the Department of Communications, in terms of the appointment of executive officers, has contributed in no small measure to this financial crisis due to the absence of clear leadership. But worse still, someone sold an idea which others uncritically bought, and that was that being a public broadcaster is incongruent with making profit.

And so the overspending began!

Given this state of affairs, what can be done to ensure the viability and sustainability of the SABC into the future? From a viewership and listenership perspective the SABC dominates the country’s broadcast landscape, and from a revenue generation aspect it dominates the adspend pie, which suggests that any ‘turnaround strategy’ should focus on how the SABC can be run in such a way as to make best use of its inherent strengths and funding opportunities. A strong SABC is fundamental to the success of South Africa’s broadcast industry as a whole.

First and foremost, such a strategy cannot ignore the country’s history. Among the many disparities created by apartheid was the manner in which the majority of the population was restricted in its access to the media, which at the same time meant that the various types of information provided by the media reached only a limited proportion of the population. When SABC 1 became the main public broadcast channel it opened up enormously important streams of both information and revenue, and a key component of both of these was advertising. This development immeasurably enhanced an earlier but still important form of dissemination of information, notably radio programmes and advertising, which were indispensable for many people for many years.

If, then, the SABC were to stop advertising (which is the case with many other public broadcasters across the globe), where would those who currently advertise through its channels find the markets that they are currently reaching and, in turn, would the listeners and viewers in these markets be deprived of valuable information?

Together with these potentially negative consequences, what would be the effect on minority markets? In other parts of the world, the fact that public broadcasters are required to cater to minority markets is sometimes seen as a burden; in South Africa this is not seen as an inconvenience, since minority markets here still carry great economic clout (as much as 50% of GDP), but it would be foolish for a public broadcaster not to take maximum advantage of existing opportunities.

Furthermore, public funding models have similar drawbacks to commercial funding ones, for programming integrity can be swayed just as much by political as by economic interests (as our history also tells us). Before adopting a new funding model for the SABC it will be necessary to ensure that any additional reliance on public funding does not surreptitiously open up a back door for greater political interference.

One way to ensure this is to conduct, from a principled vantage point, a thorough assessment of the SABC’s internal structures, culture, values, policies and procedures, as a prelude to developing a healthy and independent corporate culture. It would also be wise to make certain that any public grants have specific conditions attached, for example for the development of languages and other issues deemed to be in the national interest. These grants could be overseen by an independent public advisory council mandated by the Board of the SABC to give the interests of all sectors of society a fair hearing when the monies are allocated to independent producers.

A public broadcaster run by strong principled leaders who thrive on encouraging diversity and democracy will be able to cultivate the appropriate dynamic tension between the broadcaster, the public and all stakeholders. A public broadcaster that can turn a profit will be far better off with regard to its own future sustainability; even more importantly, it will be able to invest in the creation of local films, dramas and television programmes. The SABC can be made both principled and profitable.

Copyright © 2011 The Media Online. All rights reserved.

Original article here.

Union Docs Collaborative

To Whom it May Concern,

I am working with Christopher and Steve at UnionDocs, the Brooklyn, NY based nonprofit media arts organization. We are currently doing outreach to help spread the call for the next round of fellowships in our Collaborative Program, which has completed two years of successful operations, screening work at premiere venues such as MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight 2010, the Harvard Film Archive, the Visible Evidence Conference 2011(upcoming), and Direktorenhaus, Berlin, among others. We expect a very competitive group of applicants, representing some of the most exciting emerging talents in documentary.

Do you know about the Collaborative? If not here's a quick description:

Through the UnionDocs Collaborative Program (UDC), now in its third year, UnionDocs builds a team of talented emerging documentary artists and guides their progress as they participate in seminars on the history and theory of nonfiction media, attend masterclasses with visiting artists, and work together to develop a final, thematically driven non-fiction media project for exhibition.

While the UDC may have many parallels to parts of a masters program, it is designed to offer an alternative, affordable approach to learning and production that focuses on collaboration and peer exchange, rather than set, teacher-led courses and inter-artist competition. The UDC does not grant degrees or certificates; instead, the completion of an excellent collaborative project is the goal.

Next year's fellows will focus on Looking at Los Sures, a three year investigation into the South Williamsburg neighborhood, which UnionDocs has been part of since 2005. This cross-platform project will create a participatory, locative map for stories and ideas piloting Zeega, an open-source HTML5 platform, being incubated by UnionDocs, metaLAB (at) Harvard, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and The Sensory Ethnography Lab. With this project UnionDocs revisits a lost film about the neighborhood from 1984 and creates a constellation of companion documentaries and interactive projects that annotate, challenge, update and spiral off from the original.

We will be selecting 12 artists, with an application deadline of June 24, 2011 for residents and July 22, 2011 for non-residents.

More info here:

We are always excited about Documentary Filmmakers Association and were wondering if you might be able to help spread the word on the applications to your network. We have created an illustrated slide show presentation.

Let us know if you need additional info. We really appreciate your help and will check in a few days to answer any questions. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.


322 Union Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 112119

Toronto International Film Festival with Rasha Salti

Please click the image to view the details.

Goran Olsson Master Class

Please click the image to view the details.

SAGE Editing Panel Discussion

Panelists include:
Khalid Shamis (The Imam and I and Forerunners)
Ronelle Loots (King Naki)

Please click the image to view further details.

Seminar with David Sieveking

Please click the image to view the details.

NFVF Discussion Session in Cape Town

Please note the time of this event has been changed: 13h30 - 16h00!

Please click the image to view the details.

07 June 2011

Aquavision is Looking for Producers!

Aquavision has a long history of producing award winning documentaries for National Geographic as well as many other networks. We require skilled, energetic television Producers who can work to strict deadlines and who preferably have experience in wildlife, factual or children's programming.

The deadline for CV's to be sent is by the 30th of June, but the earlier the better. As for the projects that potential Producers will be working on, they are very varied. All projects are essentially wildlife based. There will be series work as well as one off documentaries and we are also looking for Producers to work in development. Coming up with fresh ideas for wildlife programming.

Please find a link to the Aquavision website below, which lists our previous works and hopefully gives you a better idea of what we are looking for:

If you could kindly send this out on my behalf to your members, I would be most grateful.

For those who are interested in applying, please email CV's to

Community TV Launches in Tshwane

Finally, the seemingly endless battle to get a licence for Pretoria’s Tshwane TV has come to a victorious end.

Launched only last week, the station went on air.

“The right experience was lacking in the brand and that is why it took so long to start this project,” said Collin McKenzie, sales and marketing director of Tshwane TV.

“I had been with the SABC for 15 years before I joined Tshwane TV and at the SABC I did a lot of groundwork, which included the World Cup.

“I employed a lot of the experience I gained there and we managed to get Tshwane TV up and running,”said McKenzie.

He explained that the most important focal point for them was content.

“You may have a licence, but in the end it all boils down to content and we feel we have addressed that adequately. We will have 50 percent local content in Tshwane, 30 percent national and the rest is 20 percent. We have unique shows like chats with the mayor, where once a week the mayor of Tshwane appears live and answers questions people may have,” he explained.

In an environment where community TV is on the rise and yet faces stiff competition from established channels, McKenzie said from their launch last week there were signs that good things were coming.

“It is expected that when a channel airs for the first time there are bound to be glitches here and there. When Soweto TV first launched, they had no audio and Top TV had a blackout. This is stuff that just happens, but when we launched, we had no single problem,” he said.

Reality show Big Brother’s South African contestant, Nkuli Ngqola (pictured), who was evicted recently from the show, also happens to be part of the Tshwane TV family.

What may have seemed like bad fortune when she was evicted now looks like perfect timing as the station she had been working for has now formally launched.

“I was an intern for the station since August and I learnt a great deal of stuff about visual journalism. This included all the work behind and in front of the camera.

“I am happy we launched the station finally because we are in the process of having a magazine show which I will be hosting,” said Ngqola.

She said the show was going to cover travel, lifestyles, fashion and entertainment.

“It’s almost like Top Billing, but not quite. We will have our own take on South African lifestyle stories so people should be on the look out,” she enthused.

For now Tshwane TV is only available on the UHF band of your TV. Unlike Soweto TV, it’s not hooked up with DStv.

“We are interested in having it accessible for free to people all over.

“There is a chance we will have it there in the future, but for now this is where we are,” said McKenzie.

He also said the radius of the signal reached places like Sandton, Midrand, Mabopane, Kempton Park and Tembisa.

McKenzie explained that the brand was open to new ideas so those interested in having their ideas commissioned should approach them.

The proliferation of the community TV in South Africa is rising at a rapid rate and McKenzie feels that is a positive thing for media growth.

“The thing is people want ownership and responsibility for their own stories.

“They also prefer being addressed in their own languages. Newspapers cater for that, but TV was lagging behind. Community TV is the answer to that,” he explained.

Original article here.

06 June 2011

M-Net to Host Robert McKee

Johannesburg 30th June - 3rd July
Venue: Monte Casino - Ballroom

For delegates to register, they need to contact Karin Ming on +27 11 686 6000

About Robert McKee

Robert McKee, born 1941, is a creative writing instructor who is widely known for his popular "Story Seminar", which he developed when he was a professor at the University of Southern California. McKee is the author of a "screenwriters' bible" called Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. Many of Hollywood's active screenwriters claim him as an inspiration.

McKee's other credits include writing and presenting the BBC series Filmworks, the Channel Four series 'Reel Secrets', the BAFTA Award-winning J'accuse Citizen Kane television program which he wrote and hosted, and the writing of Abraham, the four-hour mini-series on Turner Network Television (TNT) which starred Richard Harris, Barbara Hershey and Maximilian Schell.

View Robert Mckee on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos.

Picture courtesy of

Original article found here.

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