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The Durban FilmMart (DFM) returns for its 7th edition, running July 17–20. Africa’s leading finance and co-production forum shares the stage with the Durban Intl. Film Festival (DIFF).

A partnership between DIFF and the Durban Film Office (DFO), the FilmMart offers filmmakers from across the continent a chance to pitch their projects to a global cast of potential financiers, co-producers, sales agents, and distributors. It’s bolstered by a full slate of master classes and workshops on industry trends, and wraps with an award ceremony July 20.

DFO head Toni Monty says that the FilmMart has grown into a crucial showcase “in terms of having a platform in Africa where the rest of the world is able to access African content.

“We certainly have…built up quite a strong network, both in terms of supporting organizations, and in terms of filmmakers who are bringing content into the marketplace,” she says.

Among the highlights will be a documentary pitching session, with a panel that includes industry professionals from the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Sundance Institute, Hot Docs, and The New York Times’ Op-Docs; a round table with reps from key foreign fests and markets, including Sundance, the Sorfond Norwegian South Film Fund, and the Rotterdam festival’s Cinemart; and a panel discussion on co-productions with the Netherlands, which signed a co-prod treaty with South Africa in December.

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

Foreign guests in attendance include Hollywood producer-director Jeff Byrd, a Spike Lee protégé, who will be leading the discussion Packaging for the U.S. Market; Ingrid Kopp, director of digital initiatives at the Tribeca Film Institute, who will be leading a workshop on virtual reality; U.K.-based script consultant Selina Ukwuoma, who’s worked on projects including BAFTA award-winning “Boy A” and Fipresci Prize-winning “Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho,” and will present a master class on storytelling; and Todd Brown, founder of the film website TwitchFilm.com and director of international programming at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, who will lead a master class called Using Short Films to Build Brand and Audience.

At the close of the FilmMart, industry partners will hand out a host of awards to winning projects to facilitate all stages of the development process.