With Videovision Entertainment backing with some of South Africa’s biggest independent films, such as Oscar-nominated “Yesterday,” it’s only fitting that they are involved with the Durban Film Festival’s industry program, the Durban FilmMart. The Durban-based film production and distribution company is the sponsor of the FilmMart’s Best South African Film Project award. Variety spoke to Anant Singh, the chairman of Videovision, and producer of the highly anticipated “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
Tell us about why you’ve chosen to sponsor the Best South African Film Project Award.
We have observed an abundance of fresh talent in the country and we believe that young talent needs to be encouraged.
What kind of strategic advice do you give to South African filmmakers on the marketing and distribution of their films?
Over the years, we have developed a sound knowledge of the South African film industry, both as producers and distributors in all genres. As all films are different, we are able to offer our years of collective experience and provide the advice that emerging filmmakers generally do not have access to.
What kinds of projects are selling these days?
Commercial projects with known talent.
What challenges do South African filmmakers, specifically, face?
The biggest challenge is financing and then distribution.
Do you see film yielding to TV?
I think that it will ultimately yield to the online world.
In terms of local audiences as opposed to international, do you see those two audiences looking for different things?
Yes, most definitely.
What’s the key element in funding?
For emerging filmmakers, it is the challenge of raising the money to produce the film.
Is moviegoing an endangered species?
I don’t believe so. The moving image has the power to enchant audiences and the big theater experience still has the magic.
With Nelson Mandela in the news, a lot of outsiders think of South Africa in terms of race and politics. Do locals want these topics addressed, or do they prefer escapism?
Like anywhere else in the world, audiences want to be entertained.
With “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” what was the process in tackling the life of Mandela?
I acquired the rights from Mr. Mandela over 16 years ago. It has been a fascinating process trying to condense an amazing story in a 2½ hour film. We went through over 30 drafts of the script. It’s been difficult, but I think we were finally able to tell Mr. Mandela’s epic life story in an appropriate and engaging way.