National Film and Video Foundation on Developments in Film Industry: briefing

Arts and Culture

18 August 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

18 August 2003


Ms M Njobe

Documents handed out:
National Film and Video Foundation - Strategy Document Cannes 2004 (Appendix)


National Film and Video Foundation presented on the Cannes Film Festival (the Festival) as a strategy for marketing the South African film industry. Negotiations were underway for a South African focus at the 2004 Festival in celebration of the 10th anniversary of democracy. Issues raised included inter alia expenditure and return, the protection of South African material and script development.

The Chair introduced the delegation from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). The Deputy Minister was unable to attend due to urgent commitments elsewhere.

Mr Eddie Mbalo, CEO of National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) said that he and Ms Jackie Motsepe, Marketing Manager of NFVF supported the Deputy Minister's address to the Committee. The focus of the presentation would be the Cannes Film Festival (the Festival) as a strategy for marketing the South African film industry, as well as submissions to the National Lottery Board (NLB) and the National Lottery Distribution Agency (Arts, Culture, Science and Technology).

Ms Motsepe described the history of the Festival and South Africa's activities at the Festival. The first African Pavilion had been established in 2001. The Festival was ideal for the promotion of the South African film industry where director and producers could be brought to the fore. It was possible for national delegations to meet with government and national film bodies. South Africa's presence this year was a pre-publicity drive for the 2004 Festival. Regarding marketing the South African product, Ms Motsepe said that guests sampled South African wine and beer imported by a Frenchman as access to these products was difficult to attain. Negotiations were underway for a South African focus at the 2004 Festival in celebration of the 10th anniversary of democracy, as well as a significant commitment from former president Nelson Mandela to open the Festival next year. She referred to international co-production treaties with Italy and the UK, as well as South African filmmakers winning awards at the Festival. Concerning marketing strategy, a partnership with inter alia South African Tourism and the Departments of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology and Trade and Industry would provide the necessary resources.

Mr Mbalo added that Ms Motsepe had championed South Africa's presence at the Festival for the past two years. The platform was desired by all countries and South Africa should recognise the goodwill shown as it was now established in the global village. He had met with the President of the Festival, who had specially requested that Mr Mandela be present to open the Festival in 2004.

The Chair was pleased to note that the document presented included past and current achievements as well as future plans.

Ms Motubatse-Hounkpatin (ANC) asked how the objectives described would impact at national and regional level. How would access to South African wines in France be facilitated?

Mr Cassiem (PJC) said participation at the Festival presupposed that there were products to sell. He asked whether output since the establishment of NFVF warranted the nature of exposure desired and whether expenditure justified the limited output. He said that there should be emphasis on script development as South Africa had a history to be recorded. What about expenditure and return? Were opportunities created for those wanting to get involved in the film industry?

Mr Mbalo said that an enormous impact had been made over the past three years in terms of the co-production treaties negotiated. Four feature films were to be completed this year to be showcased at the Festival next year. An independent film costing R154 million to complete was also in the pipeline. Discussion with producers had resulted in that a large slate of films would be produced in South Africa and funded by the NFVF. A meeting scheduled for November 2003 would cement co-production agreements with Italy. Concerning the South African wines, it was difficult to access wines for supply and presentation. With regard to script development, training programmes had been established in conjunction with the South African ScriptWriters Association to train writers partnered with producers. He said that the aim was better representation of members. There was a move away from workshops as these were often unsustainable and to rather encourage young people to make filmmaking a career. The unfortunate reality was that people assumed they were writers, and the objective was to assist in structuring training programmes with limited resources. Regarding expenses, discussions would reveal exactly how much was required in terms of expectations for the 2004 Festival.

Mr Opperman (DA) asked whether there was a policy to guide and protect South African material presented at the Festival, especially since the quality thereof was of a high standard.

Mr Cassiem said that critical mass was important as people could not afford to produce films with budgets of R20 million. He mentioned the plethora of talent identified by the Indian High Commission and asked if this talent would be taken advantage of to achieve critical mass. He referred to the international events staged in South Africa, saying that they were not just news items, but South African success stories.

Ms Tshivase (ANC) asked about the possibility of assisting young organisations.

[The Chair left the meeting. Ms Motubatse-Hountpakin assumed Chair.]

Ms Motubatse-Hountpakin asked if only new South African films would be showcased at the Festival.

Mr Mbalo replied that old films could be shown as part of retrospective, but only new films would be entered into the competition. Regarding protection, Mr Mbalo referred to the Public Deposit Act regulating the protection of South African films. Concerning quality, there was little interference with what went to Cannes. Some films were not up to standard and it was important to ensure that films represented South Africa. NFVF did not have regulating powers, but that a consensus was reached on which films would go and those which would not. They were unhappy with production of films with huge budgets as these were unsustainable. Twelve films would be produced in conjunction with the SABC and Rand Merchant Bank. This would be done in three years, and the NFVF had already approved a budget of R22 million so that economies of scale would allow more films to be completed for less money. He informed the Committee that there was great demand for English African films that should be capitalised upon. The uniqueness of each region in South Africa should be explored, identifying history's icons and legends. State institutions should not act in isolation, but rather co-operate to streamline government activity to maximise results.

Mr Dithebe (ANC) asked how much would be contributed to the GDP over the next five to ten years. What proactive steps were there towards getting other institutions on board to influence final production. He mentioned Black Economic Empowerment, asking whether a percentage of funds went to towards the programme.

Ms Motubatse-Hountpakin mentioned American producers filming in South Africa and whether contact had been made with them.

Mr Mbalo expressed his reluctance to liaise with American film-makers in the country, but said that contact had been made. There should be an orderly, organised manner in which the Americans used South African resources to avoid them becoming obselete. A strategy plan had been prepared through to 2007, saying that strides had been made in terms of training people and impacting society, but contributions to GDP were not yet considered because of budgetary constraints. The NLB did not have the capacity to manage and evaluate the film-making process. Referring to a submission made on 5 May 2003, the matter would be taken to its logical end as monies were not channeled to the right people.

Ms Motubatse-Hountpakin said that the Committee was aware of the backlog and that NFVF should continue in bridging the gap. She expressed concern that South African history be correctly recorded and captured. Contact with American filmmakers could ensure that South Africans benefit from their presence in the country. Ms Motubatse-Hountpakin assured Mr Mbalo and Ms Motsepe that the other Departments aforementioned would be informed as co-operation would be ideal.

Meeting was adjourned.

National Film and Video Foundation - Strategy Document.

Cannes 2004

The History of Cannes.

The Cannes film festival is the most famous film festival in the world. The festival had its beginnings in September 1939 as an indirect result of the rise of fascist regimes in Europe in the 1930's. During that era the Venice film festival, was the first and only competitive international film festival. As World War II drew nearer the awards at Venice began to noticeably favour the countries of the fascist alliance. The Cannes film festival began as a result of a group of French film critics and filmmakers petitioning the French government to underwrite the cost of running an alternative international film festival in France, where films could be shown and compete without bias or political repression. Cannes was chosen as the location of the festival because of its sunny and enchanting location, being on the Cote Azur in the French Riviera, and because the City of Cannes agreed to build a dedicated venue for the event. In 1947 the festival officially became the responsibility of the government body Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC).

South Africa at Cannes.

In 1997 whilst the festival celebrated its 50th anniversary, South Africa had its first official presence at Cannes, on the world stage of film. The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology launched South Africa's film strategy to the international film community; this set the stage for the introduction of the NFVF. In the year 2000, after its official launch, the NFVF hosted a small South African stand in the Cannes market; NFVF representatives hosted an umbrella stand and answered queries from visitors to the stand. The NFVF made a great breakthrough when it secured a pavilion in the International Village and hosted the first African pavilion in the village in the year 2001. It became a meeting place for filmmakers from the continent and the Diaspora as they saw it as their home. The South African stand has become known as the African pavilion. When told that there was a South African pavilion in Cannes, Jesse Jackson said, "I am going home". He subsequently held all his interviews and meetings at the South African pavilion, where 14 television stations representing different European countries, the USA and Japan, interviewed him. The South African pavilion was also the venue for the Sojourner Truth Award ceremony; Jesse Jackson gave the award to prolific African American filmmaker Euzhan Palcy, most well known for her Film A "Dry White Season". Through this film Euzhan Palcy became the first black female director to be produced by a major Hollywood Studio. The Sojourner Truth Award is presented twice a year to artists who have demonstrated great sensitivity and compassion in their work. Sojourner Truth born in 1797 was a freed slave who joined the Anti-Slavery Society and became an abolitionist lecturer and a speaker for Women's Rights both Black and White. After the Civil War she spoke on Equal Rights. Jesse Jackson chose to make the South African pavilion his home, despite the fact that the American Pavilion is a neighbouring country pavilion to South Africa at Cannes.

Cannes film festival as a growth stimulus for the South African film sector.

The Cannes film festival is the ideal location to promote the South African film sector. It is also a launching pad for new talent as film critics at Cannes often discover new films, directors and producers. Through the concerted effort of a South African umbrella stand created at the festival, a perfect trading platform exists where attention is focussed on the South African film sector. The partnership between South African Tourism and the NFVF through the South African pavilion means that South Africa can effectively be profiled as a film destination, which increases the possibility for inward investment to the country. Cannes is the meeting place of numerous national delegations, which means that the NFVF and the Department of Arts and Culture are able to hold meetings with government and national film bodies that will in most cases allow for the creation of platforms for co-production, thereby enabling the eventual inward investment to the country. The engagement of the NFVF with festival organisers from different countries around the world means that a special place can be won for South African film at these festivals, which increases the possibility for the distribution of South African product.


In 2002 the newly appointed Deputy Minster of Arts and Culture Ms Buyelwa Sonjica led the largest delegation ever of South African filmmakers to attend Cannes. Under the South African umbrella stand at the international village, private sector players such as the Industrial Development Corporation, the Department of Trade and Industry, Rand Merchant Bank and Ster kinekor conducted business and took meetings in a purpose built environment. In line with strategy the 2003 presence at the Cannes film festival was a pre-publicity drive that created wide and enthusiastic anticipation for a high profile South African presence at Cannes 2004.

The key success components to the festival were:

Promoting South African music.

    40th anniversary of Africa Day celebrations.

      Marketing South African product at Cannes.

    • The South African event at Cannes has become known as the place where invited guests can sample South African wine and beer. The marketing opportunity for the promotion of South African wines at Cannes has not yet been recognised by South African wine companies. The opportunity was however realised instead by a French importer of South African wines, who supplied the wines for the event and personally attended. The embassy was able to secure a limited amount of South African beer, while a Belgian brewery saw the opportunity to promote its product and supplied the NFVF with more than enough beer for the Africa Day event and the subsequent film promotions that followed.
      • Negotiating a South African focus at Cannes 2004.

          Co-Production Treaty with Italy

            SA/UK Relations

              South Africa wins Cannes Prize

                Marketing Strategy.

                Cannes provides an ideal platform for innovative marketing initiatives: To celebrate South Africa's tenth year of liberation at Cannes, which will have a special focus on South Africa the following is planned:

                • Cannes will inaugurate the festival with a South African film. The film will be a one minute feature that shows South Africa's ten years of democracy.
                • A South African film retrospective. South African films that span the last ten years and beyond will be shown as part of the official festival programme.
                • To accept some of the new South African films in the main screenings and competition.
                • To arrange promotional events for films screened at the festival.
                • A bigger space for the South African pavilion.
                • The presentation of live South African entertainment at a meet South Africa event.
                • The Department of Arts and Culture have requested the presence of former President Nelson Mandela, to help ensure the commitments made by Cannes are realised.

                Marketing Mission.

                The mission of the NFVF's presence at Cannes 2004 is to herald the dawn of South African film. To present to the world that South Africa has gone through a paradigm shift in the formation of the film sector.

                CANNES Objectives.

                At CANNES 2004 the NFVF will implement the following objectives.

                • Partner with Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) to present a national pavilion for the South African film sector.
                • The vigorous Promotion of South African films that will be screened at the festival, through a comprehensive communications strategy.
                • The staging of a meet South Africa event, where prominent South African talent will be profiled and influential members of the film industry and leading government officials will be invited.
                • In partnership with South African tourism to position and promote South Africa as a film making destination, for the promotion of inward investment.
                • To host a Cannes opening night dinner, after the screening of the South African film. It is a tradition in Cannes for the opening night film to have an event where the jury and special guests of Cannes are invited.
                • The South African pavilion will continue to provide an important base from which South African filmmakers can conduct business.

                Collaboration for a successful Cannes 2004.

                The South African presence at Cannes will be much larger in magnitude and profiling the South African film industry greater than ever before. The events planned are few, but through the work done to date, are premised to be world class in nature, as the NFVF has acquired the expertise of managing an event such as Cannes. What would significantly improve the preparations for the event is for a special committee to be set up that comprises, the Department of Arts and Culture, Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA), South African Tourism and the Industrial Development Corporation. A committee of this nature will ensure that all the national bodies that have the required expertise in the area of promoting the country and film would pool their resources, which will allow for quick decision making and deliver on the promise of making Cannes 2004, the year that heralds the dawn of South African film.


              • South African filmmakers Madoda Ncayiyana and Ouida Smit were the winners of the Djibril Diop Mambety prize at Cannes. Djibril Diop Mambety is known as one of Africa's greatest filmmakers. He is known for his two epic feature films Touki Bouki and Hyenas that were meant to be part of a trilogy that commented on power and debt in Africa. Djibril Diop Mambety died in a Paris hospital in 1998, where he had been treated for lung cancer. The award at Cannes is given in his honour. A South African delegation led by Deputy Minster Buyelwa Sonjica attended the award ceremony and hosted the widow of Mr Mambety as she indicated that she would like to be in attendance with the South African delegation.
              • The meeting with a delegation of the British Film Council which led to a commitment on the part of the British to increase working relations between the U.K. and South African professionals. A British delegation will hold professional workshops with members of the South African film industry at Sithengi this year.
              • The meeting took place with an Italian government and industry delegation, which led to a commitment for the signing of a co-production treaty between South Africa and Italy at Sithengi in Cape Town in November 2003.
              • A key meeting was held with the President of Cannes, which led to a significant commitment for a special focus on South Africa at the festival. In the words of Gilles Jacob, having former President Nelson Mandela open the Cannes film festival, will be a big plus for the profiling of the South African film industry and their presence at Cannes during the country's 10 year celebrations.
              • The Africa Day event celebrated at Cannes was a first for the festival. The NFVF worked with the company A.M.I communications, who are based in Nice and who represent African filmmakers in Cannes. This collaboration ensured that all African filmmakers who were in Cannes attended the event. The event was also attended by the Minister of Arts, Culture and Cinema in Mali, Mr Cheik Omar Sissoko, the Minister of Communications in Gabon, Mr Lidi Teale, who described the Africa Day Event as the best invitation in Cannes, as well as the Managing Director of the biggest African film festival on the continent, Mr Baba Hama of FESPACO.
              • The performance of Bongo Maffin at an Africa Day event. This event had a huge impact on the festival as key film critics and filmmakers were present and spoke about the event for days afterwards.


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