The Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry development program of the Durban Film Office and the Durban Intl. Film Festival, wrapped June 20 with an awards ceremony showcasing the works of talents from across the African continent.

“DFM is considered one of Africa’s most important film finance platforms and industry gatherings, and this year around 550 filmmakers from around the globe, with a significant representation from Africa, attended the festival for four days of pitching, forums and networking sessions,” said Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office.

An integral part of the DFM is the finance and co-production forum, which this year had 10 features and nine documentary films selected for intense mentoring and pitch sessions to financiers, distributors, and other industry representatives.

“I think the market is something that is vitally important to filmmakers,” said South African producer Anant Singh.

Over the years the DFM has developed relationships with a variety of industry partners eager to support and develop African content for both continental and global markets. These partners have engaged with projects over the four days, and a number of grants and awards were provided to projects with the aim to support their further development.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program award for the documentary film project that demonstrated potential for strong storytelling craft, artistic use of visual language, originality, feasibility, and relevance went to “Hatim’s Dream,” by producer Nathan Magoola and director Matthew Bishanga, from Uganda. This projects receives a cash award of $5,000 for further development.

Afridocs, the broadcast stream that sees African and other international documentaries screened across 49 countries of sub-Saharan Africa on a weekly basis, gave a €3000 ($3398) grant to “Testament,” by producer Meena Nanji, and directors Meena Nanji and Zippy Kimundu, from Kenya.

The CineMart Award, sponsored by the co-production market of the Rotterdam Intl. Film Festival, went to the fiction project “Disco Afrika.” E.p.-producer-director Razanajaona Ambinintsoa Luck and executive producer Herizo Rabary, of Madagascar, will have an opportunity to attend the Rotterdam Lab, a five-day training and networking event bringing together producers from all over the world.

The International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) awarded the most promising documentary project at the DFM to “Wizard of Zim,” by South African producers Lesedi Oluko Moche and Carolyn Carew, and director Samora Sekhukhune. They’ll have an opportunity to attend the IDFA Forum, the largest and most influential meeting place for documentary filmmakers, producers, commissioning editors, funds, private financiers and other documentary stakeholders in Europe, in November.

Produire au Sud of Festival des 3 Continents (Nantes), awarded the fiction film “Headland,” by South African producer David Horler, and director Elan Gamaker, an opportunity to attend its developmental workshop program, PAS, where they will be given tools, expertise, and opportunities to develop European networks.

The Restless Pitch award is a one-on-one consultation for the project by Restless Talent Management, who provide development services such as image-building and positioning, project packaging, PR, and advises its clients on film sales, distribution and promotion. This was given to the project “On the Bus,” by Nadine Cloete.

Videovision Entertainment awarded the Best South African Film Project to “Abnormal Loads,” by South African produces Elias Ribeiro and Cait Panesgrouw, and director Neil Coppen, a prize valued at R75,000 (around $5,000), which guarantees its release once it’s completed. The prize includes marketing and distribution support from Videovision Entertainment.

Publicity consultants Versfeld & Associates will develop publicity material and advise on publicity profiling through the development of two projects, “The Mango Tree that Danced with Sea Breeze, a South African-Kenyan collaboration by producers Lunghi Zondi and Philippa Ndisi-Hermann, and directed by Ndisi-Hermann; and “Inga, Inge,” by producer Veronique Doumbe and director Tsitsi Dangarembga, of Zimbabwe.

Sørfond awarded the project “Un Fils,” by Tunisian producer Habib Attia and director Mehdi M. Barsaoui, with an opportunity to pitch at the Sørfond Pitching Forum in Oslo later this year.

The International Organisation of La Francophonie awarded a grant of €5,000 ($5663) for the Francophone project “Disco Afrika,” by e.p.-producer-director Razanajaona Ambinintsoa Luck and executive producer Herizo Rabary.

“It is through these partnerships that DFM projects are able to develop further along the path to completion, so we would like to thank all our partners for their support,” said Monty. “For independent filmmakers, the mentorship and support given by partners during the DFM, enables them to take their projects to the next level paving the way for the creation of a fully fledged product, which hopefully one day will return for exhibition at the Durban Intl. Film Festival.

“It’s such an incredible privilege to do what we do.”