Discop: South Africa and Kenya Eye Co-Production Treaty

Lizzie Chongoti (third from left): 'Hopefully, we can benefit from what South Africa has to offer, and they can also benefit from what Kenya has to offer'

Two years after they signed an MoU at Cannes, South Africa and Kenya are looking to take their relationship a step further with a co-production treaty.

Delegations from the two countries were in talks during Discop Africa, which wrapped Nov. 6 in Johannesburg, as each looked to explore how it could benefit from a partnership with the other.

“How can we tap into resources between the two countries? How can we tap into distribution networks between the two countries?” asked Lizzie Chongoti of the Kenya Film Commission. “Hopefully, we can benefit from what South Africa has to offer, and they can also benefit from what Kenya has to offer.”

While South Africa is generally considered to have the continent’s most-developed film industry, Terrence Khumalo of the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) was keen to point out that the two countries “did not want to create a Big Brother syndrome, where South Africa, with all its infrastructure, will now take over and dominate their Kenyan counterparts.”

Khumalo pointed out that South African delegations have been impressed by the ways in which the East African nation has built its film and TV industries, especially with a successful DTT transition that has opened up a host of new opportunities for local content creators.

“It’s not only about Kenya learning from South Africa,” he said. “It’s also about South Africa learning from Kenya.”

Since the MoU was signed in 2013, there have been collaborations at the institutional level between the KFC and the NFVF. A partnership between Discop Africa, which has twice-yearly editions in Johannesburg and Abidjan, and the newly launched Kalasha Intl. Film & TV Festival & Market, also signaled a desire to increase cooperation between the regions.

Khumalo said it was now necessary for the respective governments to put measures in place “to enable the filmmakers to cooperate at a greater level.”

While South Africa has eight co-production treaties in place, an agreement with Kenya would be its first with another African nation.

According to Jane Murago-Munene, a Kenyan filmmaker and general manager of Nairobi-based PR firm CineArts, that historic first would serve as a broader example for the continent.

“We are all very busy consuming what others give us, and … we are not consuming what is within Africa,” she said. “So I think this is a start.”

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