HOME Connect to Daily Editions @ Berlin - MIPTV - Cannes - MIPCOM - AFM
Cannes 2013 BUMPER & DAILY - Unabridged Cannes PG + Stills + One Sheets - QR Reader Magazine Tomorrow
May 16th
Cannes 2013

Click to:
Stephanie Failloux - France
Alex Warren - USA
The NFVF - South Africa

Keep In Touch With Home
View World Newspapers
Sydney Morning Herald
The Toronto Star
China Times
Le Figaro
Die Welt
Ming Pao
The Times of India
The Jerusalem Post
La Repubblica
The Japan Times
New Zealand Herald
La Vanguardia
Dagens Nyheter
Financial Times
New York Times
Send Cannes Press Releases to: press@thebusinessoffilm.com
South African Content Striding To Produce
Films That Will Appeal To Different
Racial Demographics Across Its Society

Zama Mkosi
South Africa, as a nation and as an emerging international Film industry sector in terms of its home produced films, has made great strides since it first had a National presence at the Cannes Film Festival twelve years ago.

In 2012 Zama Mkosi took over the reins of the Foundation as Chief Executive Officer of The National Film & Video Foundation, the government backed organization that is tasked with further building the industry internally and externally in terms of encouraging more co-production from the treaties in place.

The Business of Film In Conversation with Zama Mkosi discusses the directions and aspirations of the NFVF as the industry matures, fosters and constructs the image of a NEW South Africa through Film & Television internally and externally for all South Africans.

The Business of Film: It was one year ago that you attended the Cannes Film Festival as the newly appointed CEO of the NFVF. What was your overall impression of Cannes and meeting the International Film Community gathered at the most prestigious Film Festivals? Did those impressions influence further any initiatives you may have put in place this past year in the post?

Zama Mkosi: Cannes is arguably the biggest film festival in the world and as such is one of the most strategic international film platforms. It was a good experience for me, and my take was that there is a lot we can still do in terms of making the most of this platform. The most important element for me is the exposure to business networking opportunities that our filmmakers get when they are there. I think what we should be looking at moving forward is whether they are fully utilizing such opportunities and what tangible benefits does that bring back to the local film industry. As part of trying to determine all that, last year we introduced the In Conversation With. concept, not just for Cannes but also for most of the international platforms where we take our filmmakers. This is basically the session where filmmakers that have attended such festivals come back and share with the industry here at home whatever insight and information they gained from the festival.

In terms of my impression with the international film community, I felt that in as much as there has been some progress on the co-production relations between South Africa and other countries as well as on the realization of South African film locations as being suitable for international filmmakers, there is still a lot we can do in advancing our business case to the broader international film community. We have already started with some fact-finding missions to some countries, which will also help us in consolidating our long-term international strategy.

TBOF: The brief of the long-term objectives of the NFVF seems to have changed. Can you elaborate on the new directives?

ZM: During the past year we took a decision to embark on a number of research activities in line with our organizational functions, but obviously the main focus is around the issue of accessibility and visibility of the NFVF to the people we serve as a public entity. The decision was informed by realization that there was a need for us to review some elements of our operations which will then influence how we define our long term objectives. As you have correctly indicated, there is definitely a shift in terms of our approach but obviously I can't elaborate further on that at this point as we are still finalizing our processes internally. All I can say is that we are moving towards a direction where our main objectives will be clearly defined and be well communicated to the industry across the board.

TBOF: What new broad directives are in place to encourage the Films that reflect life in a comprehensive and collective South Africa as a Nation?

ZM: There has been concern over the years that some of the films that seem to have received the most attention are films that depict South African society in a particular manner that eventually creates an undesirable perception about us as a country. In as much films like Tsotsi and Yesterday were great stories, there has always been an underlying argument that they are not the most positive stories to tell about the society we live in.

We have been engaging the industry at different levels on this because we believe that while you want to have an environment that allows for creative thinking with the stories we tell, at the same time you also want to be conscious about the impact that our stories might have on the broader image of the country. In fact, we have seen a shift in terms of the nature of the stories that our films tell. If you take films like White Wedding and Material for example, they are not violent or sad stories and they were fairly a success locally, which I think is a good sign as it shows that there is room for such stories in the market.

TBOF: Do the films that are made encourage and give all South Africans a base of experience accepted by the home audience?

ZM: Films, like White Wedding and Material did well locally. Furthermore, last year we also had Adventures in Zambezia, which was South Africa's first 3D animation production that also did very well not just here at home but was also a big hit in European countries as well. The film dominated the box office chats in countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Russia. Another important factor about such films is that you find that they attract audiences across different demographics which is great and it's certainly a direction we would like continue with moving forward where our films appeal to different racial and class groups across the society.

TBOF: How difficult is it, if at all, to balance the equality to maintain fairness in the choice of projects that the NFVF funds? Are there checks and balances and transparency in place, so that the rainbow of complexions that make up the nation feel they are treated equally?

ZM: The NFVF has been embarking on an initiative to develop the criteria for South African film, which will then be used as the basis to assess applications that we receive for funding. We have been to different regions of the country engaging the industry as to what criteria should be used. Funding is one critical factor to this industry and remains one of the major challenges that the film industry is faced with. In as much as we appreciate the fact that we are a rainbow nation, however as a public entity there are issues of redress that we need to deal with and there is no avoiding that because that's the reality, and the previously disadvantaged groups are still very much less empowered in the industry. Therefore to the large extent the criteria for South African film will seek to achieve a situation where we have more black people playing a valuable role in the production of local films. That's the approach we are taking with the funding of film projects.

TBOF: The South African Film Awards was a wonderful aspect for NFVF to put in place and support. This year Samuel Jackson was in South Africa filming Kite, which must have made for a very exciting evening. Has this lifted the event to new heights? Will there be an effort to encourage other international stars to attend?

ZM: It has always been our vision to grow the SAFTAs brand every year, and as you correctly put it, the appearance by Samuel L. Jackson at the event did elevate the event to another level and indeed it was a very exciting moment. In terms of bringing other international stars in the future, like I said, the vision is always going to be growing the SAFTAs brand to another level and we believe that there are lots of ways we can look at in order to achieve this. With an event of this magnitude, you need to look at all the elements that make it a success and identify areas of improvement and show creativity in all of them, not just improving or showing creativity on one element every year. So yes we want to grow the SAFTAs and take the brand to new heights but there are lot of other ways we can do this.

TBOF: Little One was a fantastic film, and Lindiwe Ndlovu, the Lead, won Best Actress at the SAFTAs, which was instrumental in the process that got the Film accepted as South Africa's Entry to the Oscars in America. How much is the NFVF able to assist in promotion when films are abroad to get Academy members to see a film? Is this deemed important, or is it just one of many responsibilities that the NFVF has to fund?

ZM: Just for clarity, although the NFVF is the custodian of both the SAFTAs and the selection of a film as South Africa's official entry to the Oscars, the two have separate processes from the calls for entry submissions right up to the end.

Our general involvement with individual films differs from one film to another, but obviously once the film has been selected, it is in the country's best interest that the members of the Academy get to see it. Depending on the availability of resources on our side, moving forward we are considering developing specific plans for this purpose to ensure that our selected film does get a fair chance at that level.

TBOF: For the industry to grow, acceptance by an international audience is necessary. Is this one of the tasks for the NFVF at Cannes, and how does The NFVF accomplish that?

ZM: One of our key strategies is global positioning of the local industry. Therefore by attending Cannes, our objectives include creating opportunities for the local industry to be visible globally as well as attracting new partners and investments.

TBOF: Taking the meetings at Cannes last year for example, is there a perception that South Africa is just a great place to make movies? And how are you and the NFVF trying to change that?

ZM: South Africa is not just a great place to make movies, we also tell outstanding stories with a universal appeal. Our films are in demand at the global markets, receiving international accolades. One of our local films Adventures in Zambezia, which is an animation film has performed so well internationally, that it reached the number 2 spot at the box office. We continuously seek different ways of positioning the country, one of them being working with other countries on co-production projects.

TBOF: How important to the future growth of South African film and its indigenous industry are events such as the partnership with the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality and the North West Department of Sports, Arts and Culture? Is it much the same way that the Australians back in the 80's found that they needed to grow the local talent?

ZM: All the local activities, including Bojanala Film Week, are key to the development of the local youth. One of our key objectives is to redress the past imbalances, ensuring that the youth from disadvantaged communities and areas are well informed about the film industry and receive all the necessary support. These partnerships ensure that we are not working alone, but with key role players in the communities. We are on a mission of developing a new generation of filmmakers that includes the youth and females.

TBOF: The presence of the South Africa Pavilion at Cannes has rapidly changed the perception of South Africa in a very short space of time relative to other nations. Does the Government appreciate how important it is to continue the support?

ZM: Our government continues to support our efforts of ensuring that the film industry grows and that it contributes immensely to the country's economy.

TBOF: In summing up, please share with us the directives and other initiatives you would like the international community to be aware of.

ZM: South Africa is always seeking partnerships locally and internationally to ensure that the South African story is appreciated globally. Through our partnerships with co-production treaty countries we aim to bring filmmakers from respective countries to work with our filmmakers. Apart from the economic impact the projects would make, the most important element is the skills transfer and job creation between the countries. This year our message is "Attracting New Markets and Investment", and we are hoping to come out of Cannes and other global markets having negotiated deals that would result in future projects. ET.
Click to Nu Image   Click to Red Granite Int.
Click to Stealth Media   Click to Wonderphil
Click to The Little Film Company   Click to Artist View
Click to LBYL Films   Click to Hannibal Classics
Click to TriCoast   Click to Screen Media

Contact Us | www.thebusinessoffilm.com | Unsubscribe

Copyright 2010 The Business of Film™ and Elspeth Tavares™ No portion of this online publication, or its printed matter, may be reproduced without
the exclusive permission or granting of reprinted rights from the publisher.  For licensing queries, please view the "Contact Us" page for the publisher's contact information.