Durban FilmMart: Offering the African Film Industry Opportunities to Connect and Develop

Durban, South Africa: The 8th edition of the annual Durban FilmMart (DFM), the joint film industry programme of the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office (DFO) and the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), promises many opportunities for African filmmakers to build valuable business networks during the four days of masterclass’s, seminars and industry events at the Tsogo Elangeni Hotel in Durban from July 14 to 17 this year.

The DFM, which takes place during the DIFF, the longest running film festival in the country, will see some 500 delegates, from South Africa, the continent and abroad, gather in the City to engage in the “business” of film.

A diverse industry programme is scheduled for this year’s DFM, which aims to stimulate collaboration between African filmmakers and international producers and financiers. Key speakers include film distributor Tilane Jones, ARRAY Now, audience development specialist Moikgantsi Kgama, ImageNation, film executive Charles Hopkins, Shoreline Entertainmnet, writer-director Shmerah Passchier, virtual reality expert Ingrid Kopp, distributor Nicole Brooks, editor-director Karen Harley, editor-producer Sabrina S Gordon, producer Mila Aung-Thwin, screenwriter Busisiwe Ntintili, filmmaker, playwright, poet and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga, producer-director Stefano Tealdi and producer, director and writer Alby James.

Topics covered by the speakers include “Women Led Film – Disrupting the Status Quo”, “Ten Questions to ask yourself before making your Pitch”, “Virtual Reality: What’s Happening in Africa and What Can We Make Happen?”, “Making Socially Impactful Documentaries”, “From Novel to Script”, “Interpreting the Script for the Screen”, “Understanding German Film Funds”, “Co-producing with Canada”, “Film Finance: State of the Industry” and “African Distribution” amongst others.

With the thematic focus of “Women Led Film – Disrupting the Status Quo”, the DFM and DIFF, together with the Durban Film Office, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the lobby and advocacy organization Sisters Working in Film and Television (SWIFT), and international partner CaribbeanTales Media Group, will be focusing on the role of women in the industry. The programme will present a number of workshops, roundtables and panel discussions with leading women in film.

The DFM Finance Forum programme provides pre-selected African film-makers with the opportunity to pitch film projects to leading financiers, broadcasters and other potential funders. This year 10 documentaries and 12 feature fiction films in development will be pitching their projects, providing them with valuable opportunities to fine-tune and further consolidate their ideas towards a fully-fledged film for screening. The Finance Forum programme is supported by platinum sponsors, Industrial Development Corporation SA and National Film and Video Foundation SA, and a number of key international partner markets, including Cinemart Rotterdam, International Film Festival Amsterdam, Hot Docs Canada, Produire au Sud France, Sundance USA, Restless Talent UK, Berlinale Talents Germany, Sørfond Norway, Afridocs, as well as local programme partners, The Realness and VideoVision Entertainment.

As part of a collaboration between DFM and Produire au Sud, Nantes, producer director, Stefano Tealdi, will be conducting a pitching workshop for DFM Official fiction projects and DFM’s “Jumpstart” projects. The Jumpstart programme was created in an endeavour to support emerging filmmakers to bridge the gap from self-funding projects to investment/funded ones, this year’s Jumpstart programme offers ten young South African filmmakers, an opportunity to hone their pitching skills.

Nicole Brooks, vice president of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution facilitates the CaribbeanTales Market Incubator Programme. Brooks will be presenting “CineFAM – Africa, an Accelerator programme for African women filmmakers” for pre-selected filmmakers.

“Fostering collaboration between African filmmakers is vital for the future growth of African cinema,” says Toni Monty, Head of the Durban Film Office. “The Durban FilmMart aims to provide an affective platform in Durban, to raise the visibility of African cinema, act as a stimulus for production and facilitate project collaboration between African filmmakers.”

The 8th Durban FilmMart takes place in Durban, at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni from 13 to 17 July 2017, during the 38th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (13-23 July 2017).

For more information on the Durban FilmMart and to register as a delegate visit www.durbanfilmmart.com

Virtual Reality Showcase at Durban Film Mart 2017

An exploration of the possibilities of Virtual Reality (VR) will be one of the highlights of the 8th Durban FilmMart (DFM), Africa’s premier film finance and co-production forum, which takes place at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel from July 14 to 17 during the Durban International Film Festival.

Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the most exciting emerging technologies on the digital landscape and there is little doubt that it will ultimately have a massive impact on the ways that we consume media and engage with each other and society. At the same time, VR is still such a wide open frontier that there is little consensus as to what the future of this embryonic technology will be. This year’s DFM programme features a number of events that explore the possibilities of VR, particularly in terms of filmmaking and digital storytelling.

For those unfamiliar with VR – or who may not have experienced it for themselves – a VR demo session will take place on Sunday, July 16, from 10am-12noon, in the form of a Master Class presented by AFDA which will showcase the Pro VR 360 Headset. Then, on Monday, July 17, from 2pm-3pm, there will be a session entitled: ‘VR: What’s Happening in Africa and What Can We Make Happen?’ presented by Electric South and AFDA. Featuring VR experts Ingrid Kopp and Shmerah Passchier, the session will explore the possibilities for VR on the continent as well as present and discuss various projects that are currently underway in Africa. Kopp, who is one of the leading authorities on interactive media and virtual reality in the context of digital narratives, will talk about her experience with African-produced VR and the challenges facing the industry, while Passchier will discuss the notion of the cyborg filmmaker, in which virtual reality and the notion of the digital-human collide.

Passchier, who is at the leading edge of theoretical writing about VR, notes that “the cyborg filmmaker emerges from science fiction, specifically from afrofuturism, from Africa. It is the cinematic voice of the global south. The cyborg disrupts the boundary between human and machine because the tools of VR filmmaking are extensions of the cyborg self. The afrofuturist cyborg inserts itself into the global virtual reality narrative by splicing technology into the story-telling self. The virtual reality camera rig, with its multiple eyes, hybridises and multiplies the possibilities of new ways of seeing.”

She continues: “By harnessing the tools of the digital revolution, we transcend our race, our gender and our species. We splice the self with technology to form new identities, to tell new stories, to create new worlds of immersive story, to disrupt reality, to disrupt the human being, to become cyborg filmmakers.”

Talking about the African VR industry, Kopp is excited by the work that has emerged so far but also recognizes the financial challenges involved and warns that it’s vital that Africa, which has so much to offer the VR industry, does not get left behind because of a lack of funding and resources. “In many ways, the continent’s VR landscape is uncharted territory,” said Kopp. “While hubs of activity have emerged in places like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nairobi and Accra, even those working in the industry struggle to get a clear sense of what works – and what doesn’t – in different cities and outside the urban hubs”. She points out that everything, from how to get equipment in and out of countries to skill-building to camera setups that are rugged and don’t overheat, is part of a growing conversation about what form the African VR industry will take as it establishes itself.

But even with the availability of accessible gear, other technological and economics constraints will make it difficult for widespread consumer adoption to take off in many African countries. For producers, though, an industry is emerging that might, in time, satisfy global demand for African content. It is vital, says Kopp, that African VR content is made by Africans.

As well as the masterclass demonstration and the VR discussion session, Electric South, together with the Goethe Institut, will also be showing VR films in the industry lounge for the duration of DFM, including The Other Dakar by Selly Raby Kane, Spirit Robot by Jonathan Dotse, Let This Be a Warning by The Nest Collective and Nairobi Berries by Ng’endo Mukii.

So don’t miss this opportunity to explore this cutting-edge technology and the endless possibilities that it presents.

Ingrid Kopp is a co-founder of Electric South, a non-profit initiative that aims to develop virtual reality and mobile storytelling projects across Africa. Kopp is also a senior consultant in the Interactive Department at the Tribeca Film Institute where she works at the intersection of storytelling, technology, design and social change. Along with MIT’s Open DocLab, she leads the Interactive Media Impact Working Group, exploring how emerging media engages audiences, and recently launched Immerse, a new publication for Medium, as an extension of this work. Having spent 10 years in New York, Kopp is currently based in Cape Town.

Shmerah Passchier has worked in the film and television industry as a writer, director and producer. She has travelled extensively around Africa, directing magazine, reality shows and documentaries for the SABC and DSTV. Passchier has a Master’s degree in film from AFDA and a Master’s degree in Anthropology from Wits University. She is currently reading for a PhD in Cyborg Filmmaking and Virtual Reality at Wits University.

The 8th Durban FilmMart takes place in Durban, at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni from 14 to 17 July 2017, during the 38th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (13-23 July 2017).

For more information on the Durban FilmMart and to register as a delegate visit www.durbanfilmmart.com