Durban fest taken with ‘Tok’

Rookie director wins $6,500

BRUSSELS — Tyro South African helmer Jenna Cato Bass has picked up the main prize at the inaugural Durban FilmMart for her debut feature project “Tok tokkie.”

The four-day event of workshops, masterclasses and pitch sessions wrapped Monday night.

Bass describes her pic as “a careening, Cape Town-set sci-fi whodunit.”

Unfolding in the near future, it involves a pair of inspectors working for the Black Cross, a charity looking after the well-being of ghosts and spirits, refugees and criminals from the spirit dimension.

Her short “The Tunnel” played at Berlin this year and is now touring international fests.

The €5,000 ($6,500) prize was provided by the Rotterdam Film Fest’s Hubert Bals Fund.

Jury consisted of Matthew Plouffe of Focus Features, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe of the Africa Film Academy and Bals Fund topper Iwana Chronis.

Chronis said the winner had “enormous commercial promise.”

Linked to the Durban Film Festival, the market selected 12 fiction and documentary feature projects for its first edition. These came from South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia and Burkina Faso.

Well-known names from African cinema fronting projects included veteran helmer Idrissa Ouedraogo, “Daratt” d.p. Abraham Haile Biru and Oliver Hermanus, whose 2009 debut “Shirley Adams” found solid support among European fests.

Event was attended by 185 delegates from 16 countries.

Organizer Toni Monty said he hoped that FilmMart would become a feeder of African projects into other international fests and markets, such as CineMart in Rotterdam and the Intl. Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

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