CityPress - - Opportunity index - ROGER YOUNG

When an in­de­pen­dent, fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary that deals with the sub­ject mat­ter that Framed does gets crowdfunded, it gives the im­pres­sion that the mes­sage sent by blogs such as Africa is a Coun­try and De­colo­nial The­ory is start­ing to sink into the Western con­scious­ness.

Framed, di­rected by Em­mynom­i­nated US doc­u­men­tary film maker Cas­san­dra Her­rman, is in essence a film about the stan­dard nar­ra­tive. It’s best summed up by Binya­vanga Wainaina at the top of the project’s Kick­starter page: “Africa is to be pitied, wor­shipped or dom­i­nated.”

The film will fol­low Wainaina, South African-born ed­u­ca­tor Zine Magubane and Kenyan image maker Boni­face Mwangi as they ex­am­ine “the Western re­la­tion­ship to Africa and Africans”.

Since be­ing men­tioned on Indiewire in June, Framed has raised more than $33 000 (R350 000), $5 000 more than it needed to com­plete. But the suc­cess­ful fund­ing high­lights another is­sue – that crowd­fund­ing by and large is not a suc­cess­ful strat­egy for African film mak­ers.

Magubane is quoted as say­ing: “You’d think there were no African think-tanks, no African uni­ver­si­ties [and] no African hu­man rights lawyers work­ing on this is­sue.”

From lo­cal me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tions, you would think there were no African film mak­ers try­ing to crowd­fund films. Framed is a nec­es­sary film for a Western or Western-ed­u­cated au­di­ence and it will gen­er­ate ex­cel­lent news. It’s im­por­tant to note that Framed was look­ing for money to fin­ish the film, not to make it in its en­tirety.


One of Africa’s most suc­cess­fully crowdfunded film projects on record is Ed­die Ed­wards’ Rol­la­ball, which nar­rowly raised the few thou­sand rands of its $38 000 goal in the clos­ing min­utes of its Kick­starter cam­paign. Its pro­ducer, Steven Markovitz, said: “Crowd­fund­ing is a full-time job. It took a small team of peo­ple work­ing for four months to bring it in. It’s like run­ning a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign.”

Un­earthed, the award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary about frack­ing in the Ka­roo, only just hit a quar­ter of its goal and even­tu­ally raised the re­main­der of its money through funds and film mar­kets.

Direc­tor Jolynn Min­naar said crowd­fund­ing was “par­tic­u­larly harder in South Africa [as] it’s in its nascency”. She added: “On­line ac­cess in SA is lim­ited, and even more so the cul­ture of spend­ing money on­line.”


It’s no won­der, then, that projects like in­de­pen­dent award-win­ning Namib­ian film maker Perivi Kat­ja­vivi’s Icarus don’t gain trac­tion.

Kat­ja­vivi, whose film is at less than a 20th of its goal, said: “We must cre­ate a model that nur­tures orig­i­nal au­teur voices. We can­not ex­pect govern­ment and Hol­ly­wood to dic­tate our cul­ture to us.”

Icarus is a project that might not find enough sup­port, be it due to ex­change rates, South African au­di­ence ret­i­cence over crowd­fund­ing as a model or the al­go­rithms of in­ter­na­tional crowd­fund­ing plat­forms.

Lo­cal crowd­fund­ing plat­forms like Thunda­fund could be­come the an­swer for African film mak­ers.

But what­ever the an­swer is, film mak­ers have yet to har­ness pub­lic in­ter­est in such a way that turns crowd­fund­ing into a suc­cess­ful, re­li­able means of get­ting films made – and that is a stan­dard nar­ra­tive that needs to change.

NOT TAK­ING OFF Perivi Kat­ja­vivi’s Icarus is strug­gling to gain trac­tion on crowd­fund­ing plat­form Indiegogo

SUC­CESS STORY One of the few suc­cess­fully crowdfunded lo­cal films has been Ed­die Ed­wards’ Rol­la­ball

AFRICA BURN­ING Framed looks at how Africa is gen­er­ally seen as a con­ti­nent ablaze with vi­o­lence and strife

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