S. Africa grants $2 mil for films

Coin matches last year's allocation

JOHANNESBURG — The South African government this week dished out 10 million rand ($2 million) to the film industry in a bid to boost the homegrown product.

The grant follows an equal amount allocated to the industry last year.

The department of arts and culture and an independent panel comprising producers, directors and other industry leaders decided to spread the money around to seed as many projects as possible, with the largest single grant being no more than $50,000.

Feature films received $27,500, which was less than the $56,000 received by documentaries. TV pilots were allocated $36,000, education pics came away with $139,000, and government productions were awarded another $60,000. Short film projects got a total of $220,000, reflecting the panel’s view that South Africa has to spawn a new generation of filmmakers.

The Southern African Film and Video Market and the department’s official visit to the Cannes Film Festival received $200,000.

Themba Wakashe, chief director of the arts and culture department returned upbeat from Cannes, saying film industry execs in Britain, Canada and Australia were looking to South Africa but cautioned the opportunity would not last long. “If we do not deliver by next year, I firmly believe no one is going to take us seriously,” he said.