Mother City to give birth to in­no­va­tive film projects

• New Cape Town fes­ti­val seeks to help ex­tend the city’s in­dus­try from pro­vid­ing ser­vices to pro­duc­ing con­tent

Business Day - - LIFE - Struan Dou­glas

For nine years, Leon van der Merwe had suc­cess­fully ran the Stel­len­bosch-based Cape Town & Winelands Fes­ti­val. Now he has teamed up with Je­had Kasu and Rafiq Sam­so­dien to re­launch it as the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Film Mar­ket & Fes­ti­val.

“We want to po­si­tion the fes­ti­val as a global brand, a plat­form that can help tran­si­tion the Cape Town film in­dus­try from a ser­vices in­dus­try to a con­tent pro­duc­ing in­dus­try,” says Kasu, the fes­ti­val’s mar­ket­ing direc­tor.

The film mar­ket is an im­por­tant ad­di­tion to the fes­ti­val and will pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for film pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies to in­ter­act with sup­port in­dus­tries and es­tab­lish con­tacts for con­tent pro­cure­ment and new projects. Cape Town has not had a film mar­ket since Sithengi, which ran from 2001 to 2006.

Film is an im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to the re­gion’s econ­omy. The Cape film and me­dia gross ge­o­graphic prod­uct is R2.63bn and gen­er­ates 9,490 jobs. This amounts to 20% of SA’s film in­dus­try rev­enue, which the Na­tional Film and Video Foun­da­tion says added R12bn to GDP in 2016.

Gaut­eng is the hub of the film in­dus­try and the num­ber one des­ti­na­tion for con­tent busi­ness is the Dis­cop mar­ket, op­er­ated by Ba­sic Lead — a busi­ness-to-busi­ness trade-show or­gan­iser with of­fices in Abid­jan, Jo­han­nes­burg and Los An­ge­les.

Dis­cop owner Pa­trick Zu­chow­icki says that sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa is the world’s fastest-grow­ing en­ter­tain­ment mar­ket­place.

“It is set to ex­pand by 30% in the next five years, de­liv­er­ing close to $10bn in con­sumer rev­enue by 2021. The num­ber of pay-TV sub­scribers is set to dou­ble in five years, along­side the rise of OTT [over the top] video ser­vices.

“And un­tapped ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues rep­re­sent a fur­ther source of po­ten­tial growth for sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.”

Dis­cop is adding new mar­kets in Zanz­ibar in 2018 and La­gos in 2019, and has en­tered into a cross-col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Film Mar­ket & Fes­ti­val to en­cour­age fes­ti­val del­e­gates to at­tend both events. Growth will be driven by home-grown con­tent and in­trare­gional trade, Zu­chow­icki says.

“The hun­dreds of tal­ents, sto­ry­tellers, comic book pub­lish­ers, con­tent buy­ers and pro­duc­ers who com­prise the en­ter­tain­ment con­tent in­dus­try in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa don’t need to travel to in­dus­try gath­er­ings out­side of Africa to im­prove their ex­per­tise, pitch projects, source in­no­va­tive ideas and close deals.

“They will re­main in Africa to de­velop, ac­quire, co-pro­duce and dis­trib­ute con­tent made in Africa,” Zu­chow­icki says.

City of Cape Town en­ter­prise and in­vest­ment direc­tor Lance Greyling says that com­pared with other cities, Cape Town is the cheap­est des­ti­na­tion for film pro­duc­tion, set, site, util­i­ties and labour costs.

The film in­dus­try has a long value chain, af­fect­ing tourism for ac­com­mo­da­tion, ve­hi­cles and restau­rants; man­u­fac­tur­ing for set builders, plumbers and elec­tri­cians; elec­tron­ics for cam­era, sound and light­ing equip­ment; and IT for an­i­ma­tion and soft­ware. The film in­dus­try pos­i­tively af­fects job creation, poverty al­le­vi­a­tion, trans­for­ma­tion and skills devel­op­ment.

“The in­dus­try show­cases Cape Town, its di­ver­sity of lo­ca­tions, tech­ni­cal film ca­pac­ity and tal­ent, and pro­vides val­ueadded mar­ket­ing and in­vest­ment col­lat­eral for the city. This is in line with the City of Cape Town’s im­per­a­tive in terms of eco­nomic growth and devel­op­ment,” says Greyling.

The theme for the in­au­gu­ral Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Film Mar­ket & Fes­ti­val is “col­lab­o­ra­tion”, with an em­pha­sis on co­pro­duc­tions.

The long-term vi­sion is not only for more films to be com­pleted in the city, but for lo­cal film-mak­ers to take their sto­ries to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

Kasu be­lieves more could be done to in­cen­tivise con­tent pro­duc­tion. “What counts against the Western Cape is that we don’t have a film fund or film com­mis­sion that ac­tively sup­ports con­tent pro­duc­tion — that’s where the real money is.

“We’re los­ing out on po­ten­tial value-add for the lo­cal econ­omy when a for­eign pro­duc­tion com­pany shoots here, but com­pletes their post­pro­duc­tion back home. We need com­pa­nies to come here and do co­pro­duc­tions with us,” Kasu says.

“They gain from re­duced costs and new sto­ries, and we gain from roy­al­ties — that is how op­por­tu­ni­ties are lever­aged by pro­duc­ing con­tent in a ter­ri­tory, as op­posed to just ser­vic­ing.”

The fes­ti­val has signed a fiveyear part­ner­ship with the Global Max Me­dia Group, a Chi­nese me­dia com­pany with of­fices in Gaborone, Botswana. The group has an on-the-ground pres­ence in 26 coun­tries, with me­dia plat­forms across a va­ri­ety of chan­nels in tele­vi­sion, ra­dio, print and dig­i­tal.

“The Chi­nese and the African mar­kets are ripe for our con­tent. Through this re­la­tion­ship, we are in­tro­duc­ing South African sto­ries to China, and, at the same time, in­tro­duc­ing Chi­nese sto­ries to Africa,” says Kasu.

“They are com­ing to Cape Town to en­gage with our es­tab­lished and emerg­ing con­tent pro­duc­ers. As they have a strong pres­ence through­out Africa, it will be­come eas­ier for us to push some of our lo­cal con­tent into the rest of the con­ti­nent, based on the same part­ner­ship. That is a great value propo­si­tion to pro­mote lo­cal con­tent, not only to China, but to the rest of Africa as well.”

The Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Film Mar­ket & Fes­ti­val has in­vited top in­ter­na­tional pro­fes­sion­als to share in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence and in­sights that will ben­e­fit all lo­cal pro­duc­ers and in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als.

The 10-day cel­e­bra­tion of world cin­ema in­cludes award­win­ning films from more than 50 coun­tries; world pre­mieres for three South African films — District Six: Ris­ing from the Dust, Wood­wind and Matwetwe — and spe­cial fo­cuses on LGBTQI, Nordic and short films.

There will be in­dus­try events and public events with out­reach and skills trans­fer pro­grammes.

“The Cape Town Film Mar­ket & Fes­ti­val is a wel­come ad­di­tion to our events calendar and will bring the nec­es­sary in­ter­na­tional fo­cus and pres­tige to this in­dus­try in Cape Town,” says Greyling.


The Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Film Mar­ket & Fes­ti­val is at the V&A Wa­ter­front from Oc­to­ber 12—22.

Dis­cop is at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre from Oc­to­ber 25—27.

/David Har­ri­son

Pretty in pink: A min­der leads a painted cow to a film set in Cape Town’s Bo Kaap dur­ing a shoot this year. The city is pop­u­lar with film­mak­ers from around the world.

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