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S. Africa puts emphasis on developing writers

Program will foster screenwriting talent

JOHANNESBURG — A lack of quality scripts has widely been blamed for holding back the development of local film production, and industry organizations have decided to take action this year to remedy the problem.

The National Film and Video Foundation and the South African Scriptwriters Association, in conjunction with Audio Visual Entrepreneurs of Africa, have launched the Sediba script development program which will provide 12 selected writers with specialized training during 2005. The program will continue with a new pool of writers selected annually.

“While we hear the constant refrain that we have many stories to tell, very few have been transformed into script form and few film masters have developed.

“There are powerful storytellers in our community but the past imbalances in our society still haunt us and few writers have gained the skills necessary to write scripts that have cultural resonance and are solid, professional and commercially viable,” said the NFVF.

The 12 scriptwriters will be selected from submitted scripts for feature films and television dramas and then provided with extensive training to develop their scripts into commercially viable professional projects.

The program will be led by Alby James, head of screenwriting and external relations at the Northern Screen Academy for Film & Television at Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K.