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ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
19 October 2004
NATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO FOUNDATION AND DEPARTMENT BRIEFINGS
Documents handed out:
The Department of Arts and Culture briefed the Committee about the establishment of a national film school. A feasibility study had been done to find out the needs of the existing institutions, and what could be done to co-operate with them. Members raised their concerns about the quality of American films that were a ‘staple diet’ for generations of South Africans, and were concerned that an expensive fee structure would exclude poor aspirant filmmakers. Other Members were concerned about the exclusion of indigenous cultures.
The briefing was led by Ms. Lindi Ndebele-Koka, Department Director: Cultural Development, and supported by Mr Lebone Maema, Deputy Director, Audiovisual and Multimedia. Ms Ndebele-Koka reported that former Minister Ben Ngubane, had authorised a study into the viability of the establishment of a film school. Surveys and small reports had been undertaken but no detailed research had been undertaken thus far. Ms Gina Bonmariage, Human Capital Development Manager for the National Film and Video Foundation, reported that the Minister had outlined the process of the research. The research included an audit of film education in South Africa to ensure that the proposed film school was embedded within the broader framework of film education in South Africa. Furthermore, they identified the necessity for a film school that would also be recognised by international film industries.
The first phase was that the Department should convene a meeting of NFVF, and the Departments of Trade and Industry, and Education, to agree on terms of reference and the work programme. The NFVF then had to establish an Audiovisual Training Advisory Panel to be chaired by a member of the NFVF Council, as provided in the NFVF Act 73 of 1997. The research group had to include international experts, finalise budgets for the set project period, and submit a draft report to the Minister.
The Departments of Arts and Culture, Trade and Industry, Education and the NFVF had to review the report and hold a national Indaba. The theme of the Indaba would be "Towards a National Strategy for Film Education". The report had to be handed to the Minister, and the Minister had to report to the Cabinet and MinMEC. The Minister had expected all the work to have taken place between October 2004 and March 2005.
The progress to date had been that Ms Gina Bonmariage, Senior Manager: Human Capital Development, had been appointed as the representative official of the NFVF for all interaction with the Department and on the Steering Committee to be established.
The Minister had sent communications to the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Education and NFVF requesting them to appoint the relevant officials to the Steering Committee. On 5 July 2004, the NFVF Council had appointed the Audiovisual Training Advisory Panel. Furthermore, NFVF had drafted Terms of Reference for consideration in the first meeting of the Steering Committee. The Department had set aside an initial amount for a research budget.
A report of the census commissioned by the NFVF and conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council, was presented to the NFVF on 18 October 2004. The NFVF had established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Media Advertising, Publishing, Packaging Sector Education and Training Authority (MAPP SETA). Under this MOU, they had signed a contract for collaboration on research including the census and training provider audit of existing institutions.
The Director-General and the Committee had been requested to impress on the relevant departments, the importance of appointing officials to the Steering Committee.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) enquired about the relationship between the proposed film school and the existing film academy. The opening of the new film school could lead to the demise of existing ones.
Ms G Bonmariage replied there were no reason for not combining the existing schools with the new schools. Their mandate was to investigate the viability of establishing a national film school. What form this would take would be proposed by the research and following consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including existing film schools.
The Chairperson asked how much had been budgeted for the whole exercise. Ms Ndebele-Koka answered they had set aside R700 000 for the first phase of the project.
Mr C Gololo (ANC) commented that the idea of a national film school was a fine initiative, because he "felt sick" of American movies.
Dr C Mulder (FF Plus) enquired about the inclusion of the Department of Labour because it was not included in the prior arrangements with the Minister.
Ms Ndebele-Koka answered that the NFVF Act did not cater for the inclusion of the Department of Labour. The convenors of the project felt it had been necessary to include the Department of Labour for its skills training programme.
The Chairperson said it was important to integrate government departments that had overlapping duties.
Mr R Sonto (ANC) asked what steps had to be taken by the Committee to get the steering committee going.
The Chairperson commented it was important to consult, but there was a need for a parallel process, thereby fast tracking the election of a Steering Committee.
Ms Ndebele-Koka replied the delay had been caused by the election of the Steering Committee. The Minister had written to the relevant departments in November 2003 urging them to elect people who would serve in the Steering Committee. The Department Deputy-Director had made numerous follow-ups, but no response had been forthcoming. The Director-General had since proposed to present the call for the establishment of the Steering Committee to the next Economic Cluster meeting.
Ms Bonmariage said it was vital to to collaborate with the MAPPP SETA in order to ensure co-ordination and omit duplication of the work of the NFVF and the MAPPP SETA. To this end, funds had been sourced from the MAPPP SETA towards the research far thus conducted".
Mr B Zulu (ANC) asked how disadvantage people would gain access to the film school if the fees were expensive.
Ms Ndebele-Koka replied that film schools were expensive by nature because of the equipment used. MAPPP SETA, foreign funding, and scholarships/bursaries would enable disadvantaged students to gain access.
Mr Sonto asked what would assure South Africans that the content of the curriculum would not duplicate the Hollywood "poison".
Ms Ndebele-Koka replied that South Africa had amazing stories to show to the whole world. The film school would be a vehicle used to craft the storytelling through filmmaking.
Mr Mulder commented he hoped the film school would contribute to the development of South African culture in general.
The Chairperson informed Members that the discussion and finalisation of the Freedom Park report would be postponed because the document had not yet been made available.
The meeting was adjourned
ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
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