Organizers were planning new market for 18 months

JOHANNESBURG — The Durban Film Festival has stepped in to fill the film market void created by the 2007 demise of the Sithengi Film and Television Market, South Africa’s leading mart.

Organizers of the Durban fest announced this week that its 2010 event would feature the first Durban FilmMart, an international co-production market for Africa.

The Sithengi mart, held in Cape Town, was cancelled because of financial difficulties after its 11th edition.

The Durban Film Office and Durban fest said they had been planning the new market for 18 months.

The aim is to give African filmmakers the opportunity to pitch projects to financiers and world sales agents, as well as get feedback from internationally reputed directors and producers in order to form alliances for future collaborations.

“We envisage the establishment of an international co-production market that has the potential to act as a key driver in raising the visibility of film from the African continent,” said DFO chief executive Toni Monty.

Peter Rorvik, director of the fest’s Center for Creative Arts, said by providing a funding and co-production forum, the Durban FilmMart aimed to redress the paucity of film production on the continent and make a contribution to film financing and industry development “in a time where stability and growth is sadly sporadic.”

Organizers said the support of the city of Durban had been secured for the event, which it was hoped would help establish the vibrant southeastern coastal city, home to filmmaker Anant Singh’s Videovision Entertainment, as a leading South African filmmaking destination.

The Durban fest is the longest-running international film festival in South Africa and has grown in popularity over the years.

Last month’s 30th edition drew a record number of visitors, despite the fact that there were 26 less screenings this year due to a cut in funding. There were 5,500 more visitors than last year, with a total attendance of 22,471 people at the 280 screenings, said Rorvik, with workshop and seminar attendance also up.

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