S. African film fund loses fight for renewal

Hopes that “Tsotsi’s” Oscar success would persuade South Africa’s government to continue allocations for a $5.8 million film fund have been dashed, with the Dept. of Arts & Culture making it clear this week that it would not reconsider its decision.

The three-year grant by the DAC to the National Film & Video Foundation lapsed at the end of 2005, and the latter has been fighting for its renewal.

The foundation and other industry players had hoped “Tsotsi’s” foreign-language film Oscar would put pressure on DAC to renew the grant for another three years, but Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan said this week, “Unfortunately, we can’t make more money available now.

“The NFVF is one of many organizations that depend on government money. The grant was intended to anchor the industry and kickstart feature film production. Now the industry has to stand on its own legs.”

The foundation believes renewal of the grant is vital to keep up the current momentum of local feature-film production. “After this win, the challenge to the film industry in South Africa will be to ensure the continuous supply of films if we are to be guaranteed loyalty from audiences for our films,” said chairman Mfundi Vundla.

Twenty-six films have received funding support from the grant, including “Yesterday” (an Oscar nominee in 2005) and Berlin Golden Bear winner “U-Carmen eKhayelitsha.”

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