Africa’s leading finance and co-production market, the Durban FilmMart, kicks off July 17 as financiers, producers and commissioning editors from around the world converge on South Africa this week for the Durban Intl. Film Festival (DIFF).

Now in its sixth year, the Durban FilmMart will offer filmmakers from across Africa a chance to pitch their projects to potential financiers, distribs, sales agents, and co-producers, as well as take part in a full slate of master classes and workshops on the latest industry trends across the FilmMart’s four-day program.

A partnership between DIFF and the Durban Film Office (DFO), the FilmMart has become an important stepping stone for African filmmakers in all stages of project development.

“Our main objective is to help people connect and develop networks and partnerships with others in the industry, especially those from across Africa,” said the DFO’s Toni Monty. “We see how African filmmakers have developed strong relationships over the years, and through various collaborative efforts we are starting to see an interesting growth in the industry.”

Since its inception in 2010, the FilmMart has helped to facilitate more than 80 African co-productions. Recent success stories include “Ayanda,” above, by the South African helmer Sara Blecher, which opened DIFF’s 36th edition on July 16; “The Boda Boda Thieves,” a South African/Kenyan/Ugandan/German co-production, which had its world premiere in the Berlinale Forum this year; and “The Dream of Shahrazad,” a South African/French/Egyptian co-prod that preemed in the Masters Section of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

The finance and co-production forum, one of the FilmMart’s annual highlights, will include 10 features and nine docs selected for intense mentoring and pitch sessions to industry reps from around the world.

Among industry execs in attendance for the finance forum will be producer Alexandra Stone, who heads CMP Film, a London-based film and TV production company; Cosima Degler, of Berlin- and Cologne-based production company Unafilm; Ingrid Lill Hogtun, managing director of Norway’s Barentsfilms; Jelena Goldbach, producer with ZAK Film Prods., which specializes in European co-productions; Philipp Hoffman, from distrib Rushlake Media, which focuses on VOD licensing and digital distribution; and Jose Rodriguez, director of documentary programming at the Tribeca Film Institute.

A host of awards will also be handed out to winning projects to facilitate all stages of the development process. Among the highlights will be a cash prize of $7,000 from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, which for the first time will be honoring a project “in light of the tremendous talent for documentary filmmaking in Africa and the significant work of the DFM to celebrate those artists,” according to Rahdi Taylor, film fund director for the Documentary Film Program.

Other awards will be handed out by FilmMart partners including Afridocs, the first weekly primetime channel dedicated to docs in sub-Saharan Africa; CineMart, the co-production market of the Rotterdam film festival; the Intl. Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam; Rome’s New Cinema Network; the Produire au Sud of Festival des 3 Continents, held each year in Nantes, France; Restless Talent Management, a global management company representing African talent; and South Africa’s Videovision Entertainment.

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