S. African minister hopes to attract biz

Aim is to bring in filmmakers and develop industry

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa will host a summit of African filmmakers within a year as its cultural contribution to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan announced.

Jordan said the aim was to bring filmmakers from across the continent to build on recent successes — such as an Oscar nomination for “Yesterday” and top award at Berlin for “U-Carmen u-Khayelitsha” — and try and develop an industry which could have economic benefits for the people of the continent.

Jordan said he hoped the summit could lead to an increase in co-productions in a cultural arena where Africa had enormous potential as evidenced by festivals such as Fespaco in Burkina Faso and the massive Nigerian film industry.

A key element would be to create a critical mass of Africans who could have access to the cinema on a continent that was largely non-electrified and continental industry players would have to look at creative ways of harnessing cheaper, but state of the art technology that made it possible to bring cinema to thousands of people at affordable admission prices.

“We are convinced that it is possible to shift the sector into a more rapid growth phase,” he said, adding that the budget of the National Film and Video Foundation would be reviewed this year to enhance capacity to produce films using South Africa’s indigenous languages. Both Yesterday and U-Carmen u-Khayelithsa were shot in indigenous languages, Zulu and Xhosa respectively.

An amount of R24.609-million (around $4-million) had been allocated to the NFVF in the current budget, the minister said.

In the next few months, officials from the Department of Arts and Culture would be consulting with people in the South African film industry and filmmakers across the continent to prepare for the summit, the date which would be announced later.

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