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German pact pushes co-prod’n

World Brief

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa and Germany signed a key co-production treaty which will give local filmmakers access to much-needed funding at last week’s Sithengi Film and Television Market in Cape Town.

This is the third co-production treaty which South Africa has negotiated, following previous agreements with Canada and Italy.

Co-productions are seen as key to the development of the local industry to prevent South Africa from becoming merely a cheap service-based location and to give cash-strapped filmmakers access to funding not always easily available in South Africa.

The German co-production treaty would not only enable South African product to access more financing possibilities from Germany, but would also increase opportunities for funding under the European Union umbrella.

The potential of the agreement was already evident in the strong German presence at Sithengi 2004, with Sonia Moerkens from the Berlinale Co-production Market in town to launch the Berlin World Cinema Fund in South Africa.

An initiative of the Berlinale, the aim of the World Cinema Fund is to boost funding sources for filmmakers in developing countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. A pool of 500,000 Euros is distributed annually to support feature films or creative feature docs from these regions, with the Fund pledging to recognize and reward applicants who submit work with “a strong cultural identity.”

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