Sithengi woes blamed on sponsors
JOHANNESBURG — Southern Africa’s film and TV market, held annually in Cape Town in November, has undergone a change in management — and in direction.
Managing director Michael Auret says Sithengi, as the market is known, is suffering financial problems after South Africa’s main broadcasters withdrew their sponsorship of this year’s event at the last moment.
While the slack has been taken up by the government-funded National Film and Video Foundation, Auret believes the market has to be able to generate its own funding in order to survive.
His solution is to transform Sithengi from a once-a-year event into a year-round “trade commission” that will link African producers with African and international broadcasters.
“We want to help producers access other markets,” Auret said, adding that a massive database is being created that will be available to subscribers.
At the same time,” he added, “we would like to reposition Sithengi as an African (as opposed to southern African) film and TV market.”
By becoming the continent’s premier market place — currently the Fespacofilm festival in Burkina Faso every two years serves as the main outlet for Francophone and Lusophone African product — Sithengi would become a major international forum, Auret says.
He is also convinced that a significant international film festival should be held in Cape Town to coincide with Sithengi in order to put the market firmly on the map.
As he only took over the reins in May this year, he has not had time to organize such a festival for this year’s sixth annual staging of the Southern African Intl. Film and TV Market.
Auret’s thinking is partly shaped by a three-year business plan drawn up by consulting group KPMG, which was called in earlier this year to give Sithengi a radical revamp.
Some 1,500 delegates from more than 42 countries are expected at this year’s market, which runs Nov. 12 to 15 in Cape Town.