Durban FilmMart Gains Momentum | INA Global

Durban FilmMart Gains Momentum

Article  by  Sara HEFT  •  Published 11.08.2011  •  Updated 11.08.2011
Poster of DIFF
[NEWS] The second edition of Durban FilmMart, Africa’s largest co-production market, was held in late July in conjunction with the Durban International Film Festival, with the goal of promoting the continent’s new filmmaking talents for an audience of global industry players. 
The 32nd annual Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), Southern Africa’s oldest and largest such event, was held from July 21-31, 2011, its program of 250-odd films throwing a spotlight on the continent’s cinematic output alongside an array of current works from around the globe. In conjunction with the festival, two other events took place: the fourth edition of Talent Campus Durban, organized in partnership with the Berlinale Talent Campus, gathering together 40 emerging African filmmakers for a five-day program around the theme “Africa in Motion”; and the second edition of Durban FilmMart (DFM), Africa’s largest co-production market, run in partnership with the Durban Film Office.
 
Held from July 22-25, the DFM provides a selection of African filmmakers[+] NoteTo qualify for entry, the film project must have an African citizen in one of the three key creative roles: director, producer or writer.X [1] with the opportunity to pitch their projects to financiers, sales agents, producers, distributors and representatives of funding bodies hailing from far-flung countries, and more generally promotes networking in the name of future cross-cultural collaborations between African and international filmmakers and industry players. Tony Monty, acting CEO of the Durban Film Office, noted the shift from the DFM’s inaugural year, highlighting the precision of participants’ strategies and aims in terms of “who they wanted to meet and what they wanted to get out of” this year’s event – proof for him of how “seriously” industry players are already taking the market, which he hopes to see develop into a “’feeder’ of African product to other international festivals and markets”. He emphasized that the DFM’s quick and “resounding” success is thanks to the backing, “in cash and in kind”, of local role players, sponsors and partners, who have cemented the event’s dynamism in such a way that bodes well for years to come.
This year’s edition of the film financing initiative brought together 300 or so delegates over four days, who, in parallel to the project pitches, participated in a program of master classes, workshops and seminars led by local and international experts and filmmakers and devoted to industry issues. Sessions ranged from “Film Finance Fundamentals”, given by Juliane Schulze of peacefulfish, to “Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing” by Peter Broderick of Paradigm Consulting and “Documentary Finance Wizardry” by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich of Scarabee Films.
 
The contenders vying for the delegates’ attention and financial backing with their pitches were the 126 feature film and documentary projects that qualified for consideration in this year’s DFM. Twenty of these – ten features, ten documentaries – were selected for the Finance Forum[+] NoteA four-day closed forum where those filmmakers selected by the international “project reader committee” participate in a two-day pitching and packaging training program, followed by one-on-one meetings with investors where they pitch their projects.X [2], including entries from Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tunisia. These new entrants into the industry were simultaneously competing for a number of different awards intended to help get their projects off the ground. In a market that “has gone from zero to a hundred in one year”, one of DFM’s notable new award sponsors was PUMA.Creative, which gave handed out two Creative Catalyst Awards (R50,000 or approximately $7,000) and two Creative Mobility Awards (R15,000 or approximately $2,100), respectively intended to recognize ambitious and creative documentary ideas[+] NoteAwarded to Femme à la Caméra, directed by Karima Zoubir and produced by Hicham Brini (Morocco); and Rollaball, directed by Eddie Edwards and produced by Steven Markovitz (South Africa).X [3], and to help filmmakers offset travels costs for on-location filming or engagements after completion[+] NoteAwarded to The Flight Pilot, directed by Peggy Mbiyu (Kenya); and I, Afrikaner, directed by Annalet Steenkamp and produced by Lauren Groenewald (South Africa). X [4]. A number of other awards were handed out by partners and sponsors, seven in total, by entities ranging from the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam to CineMart, the major co-production market of International Film Festival Rotterdam, which selected three entries for participation in the upcoming edition of its Rotterdam Lab. South African media and entertainment corporation and sponsor Videovision Entertainment was another noteworthy newcomer with its R75,000 (approximately $10,300) award for “Best South African Film Project”[+] NoteAwarded to Kyle Lewis, director, and David Max Brown, producer, for This Boy.X [5]. Said Anant Singh, the company’s CEO, “Our sponsorship of this prize is designed to nurture and develop emerging South African filmmakers.  We remain committed to the South African film industry and to creating a platform for local films, both in South Africa and abroad.”  
 

The situation of the DFM’s host country represents something of an exception on a continent where the film industry is suffering from a lack of viewers and movie houses are being shuttered left and right. Output in terms of national film production remains steady in countries like Nigeria, Morocco or Egypt, but the general consensus – a major topic of discussion at this year’s edition of the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) – is that “circulation channels for the productions are all but inexistent” on the continent, in the words of Arthur Kafado, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Industry, Trade and the Promotion of Private Initiative and Handicraft. The cinema landscape in South Africa, however, has undergone something of a revolution in recent years – a “multiplex” revolution in a country that now counts over 700 modern screens, attracting some 30 million moviegoers annually for box office results that surpass the rest of the continent’s combined ticket sales. Further proof of the country’s dynamism in terms of film: during Durban FilmMart, South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation announced plans to increase the number of films it funds annually to between six and fifteen, and set up 150 screens in rural areas and townships over the next ten years, amongst other initiatives. South African film productions, while not prolific (around fifteen per year), have been acclaimed and widely distributed on the world stage in recent years – more so than in domestic movie theatres – winning Oscars (Tsotsi, 2005) and Golden Bears (U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, 2005), and helping strengthen the relatively weak market position for African films around the world.
 
And what South African filmmakers have managed to accomplish in terms of global visibility, others are now hoping to emulate with the help of initiatives like the Durban International Film Festival and FilmMart. Peter Rorvik, the director of the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which runs the DIFF, highlights the South African event’s success in contributing toward the exportation of African cinema well beyond the continent’s borders, stating that[we] are often the first point of contact for people inquiring about African and South African cinema. […] Over the last five or six years we have curated or directly provided films for other festivals in places like Korea, the Netherlands, Greece and Reunion.” The drive for the fruits of the continent’s filmmaking talents to be able to reach both festival and mass-market screens for far-flung audiences has taken shape in the Durban FilmMart, which this year solidified its position at the top of the African film industry’s agenda.

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Photo Credits: picture from the DIFF Facebook page
DFM website screenshot.
Video from the Univesity of Kwazulu-Natal Website.
  • 1. To qualify for entry, the film project must have an African citizen in one of the three key creative roles: director, producer or writer.
  • 2. A four-day closed forum where those filmmakers selected by the international “project reader committee” participate in a two-day pitching and packaging training program, followed by one-on-one meetings with investors where they pitch their projects.
  • 3. Awarded to Femme à la Caméra, directed by Karima Zoubir and produced by Hicham Brini (Morocco); and Rollaball, directed by Eddie Edwards and produced by Steven Markovitz (South Africa).
  • 4. Awarded to The Flight Pilot, directed by Peggy Mbiyu (Kenya); and I, Afrikaner, directed by Annalet Steenkamp and produced by Lauren Groenewald (South Africa).
  • 5. Awarded to Kyle Lewis, director, and David Max Brown, producer, for This Boy.
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