Film commission eyes tourist trade

Cuff sez S.A. slow to develop 'showcase to the world'

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa is hoping the film industry can spark an upsurge in tourism.

The Cape Film Commission has launched an initiative to exploit the locations of upcoming shoots, and CFC chief executive Martin Cuff says the time is ripe for such a plan, with several films with strong tourism potential in production.

“Look what ‘Lord of the Rings’ did for New Zealand,” Cuff says, noting South Africa has been slow to develop this aspect of its industry. “Films can be a country’s showcase to the world. We need to work with the tourism industry and be creative in developing this economic spinoff of our film industry.”

“The Story of an African Farm,” the first screen adaptation of the classic 19th-century South African novel by Olive Schreiner, has been selected as a pilot project for the initiative.

Also part of the initiative is “Proteus,” a Canada/South Africa co-prod directed by John Greyson (“The Law of Enclosures”) and Jack Lewis (“Sando to Samantha”). Shot during 2002, the period feature, based on the true story of the homosexual relationship between two Robben Island prisoners in the 1700s, is set to premiere at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival this fall.

Cuff says the focus on Robben Island, best known as the home of political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela during the apartheid era, will be used to create travel packages that incorporate visits to the island and sites where the film was shot.

The gay tourism market would be targeted for this campaign, as well as for the Tracey Collis short “Moffie,” a film set in the gay culture of the Western Cape, home to the annual Pink Festival, held in Knysna. The short, produced as part of the National Television & Video Assn.’s annual training initiative, will premier at the Sithengi Intl. Film & Television Market in Cape Town, to be held Nov. 13-16.