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S. Africa happy treaty finally OK’d

Pact was originally due to be signed at '04 Sithengi mart

JOHANNESBURG — The South African film industry has welcomed the long-awaited signing of a co-production treaty with the U.K. during the Cannes Film Festival, anticipating that it will open up financing options and markets for many cash-strapped local producers.

Treaty was originally due to be signed during the 2004 edition of the Sithengi Film & Television Market in Cape Town. As a result of the restructuring of U.K. tax laws, however, it was not possible to finalize the pact until the legal situation became clear.

Finally signed at Cannes by U.K. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and South African Arts and Culture Minister Pall Jordan, treaty aims to enable the U.K. and South African film industries “to pool their resources to create films that will benefit both countries financially and culturally.”

Co-production treaty is South Africa’s fourth, following previous deals with Canada, Italy and Germany.

Producer Anant Singh of Videovision Entertainment (“Yesterday”) said the treaty would enable South Africa to benefit from the U.K.’s “diverse and comprehensive” pool of expertise and skills and open up new avenues of financial support and markets to local filmmakers.

The National Film & Video Foundation said the two film industries historically have had strong ties, with South Africa a location for numerous British films and commercials. More recently, the Oscar-winning “Tsotsi” was a co-production between South African and U.K. producers.

“South Africa’s positioning strategy is that it can provide an excellent environment for incoming productions with diverse natural locations and skilled crew and therefore be a strong partner for co-productions,” the NFVF said. “The agreement aims to encourage South African filmmakers to invest in U.K. talent and locations, and in return, such productions will benefit from U.K. filmmaking expertise.”

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