JOHANNESBURG — New name, new venue, new faces, new ideas: the Southern African film and television market promises bigger, better and more Africa this year.
In keeping with its image, the market, held from Nov. 17-20, has been renamed Sithengi — a Nguni word for marketplace.
It will move from Longkloof studios where it has been staged since its inauguration two years ago, to new film studios being built by Sasani media group at Cape Town’s popular Waterfront complex on the revamped dockside.
As opposed to the previous two years, those calling the shots this year boast more black faces than in the past, a move that ought to placate filmmakers from other parts of Africa who complained last year the market was “too white” and that they were merely there for window dressing.
New market director Richard Ishmael told Daily Variety that while the character of the first two markets will not change substantially, Sithengi will focus more on product from across Africa rather than merely Southern Africa.
He said African filmmakers attending the Harare film festival in the Zimbabwe capital in October will be offered a workshop where they will be taught the art of marketing and of pitching their product at Sithengi.
Thirty of the 50 stands have already been sold and registration of delegates has already started briskly.
The market will comprise an International Director’s Week, the Southern African Newcomers’ Competition, film financing workshop and exhibitions.
A new feature will be the staging of a mini Input conference, based on this year’s Input conference held in Stuttgart, Germany.
Ishmael believes Sithengi’s mini Input will draw the best of Stuttgart, as well as African television programming.
Another new feature will be a special market TV station that will broadcast in the Cape Town area from Oct. 22 to Nov. 25.
Sithengi is the only market in Africa and is expected to draw buyers and sellers from across the continent as well as overseas.
The market also has its own Website: http://www.showdata.org.za/sithengi