Mayenzeke Baza
Mayenzeke Baza, director of international relations at the Association for Transformation in Film and Television.

South Africa's film industry will have a strong showing at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, with a delegation of 20 emerging filmmakers set to make the trip to Canada, and four SA-made films selected for screening at the festival.

The Association for Transformation in Film and Television is hosting the delegation, which will operate under the "South African Indies" banner and will be based at the South African stand at the festival market.

The SA Indies delegation has been invited to attend a networking function, and will also take part in South Africa-Canada co-production sessions and other panels and workshops at the market.

The 40th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs from 10 to 20 September. TIFF is one of the most important festival and market spaces on the global film calendar, offering easy access to important players from North American and international studios.

Its People's Choice Award - it has no jury awards - is widely seen as an Oscar nominations indicator, guaranteeing the quality of its film line-up.

Four South African films to be showcased

Charlie Vundla's 'Cuckold'
Charlie Vundla's 'dramedy' Cuckold will be part of the official selection in the contemporary world cinema category at Toronto 2015.

This year, four South Africa films will be showcased at TIFF: Charlie Vundla's Cuckold, Oliver Hermanus's Endless River, Zamo Mkhwanazi's short film The Call, and Yolo, a short experimental film shot in South Africa by American artist Ben Russell in collaboration with the Eat my Dust Youth Collective from Kliptown, Soweto.

According to Mayenzeke Baza, director of international relations at the Association for Transformation in Film and Television (ATFT), the importance of attending events such as the Cannes and Toronto festivals cannot be overemphasised.

The ATFT is a non-profit company that was established by a group of independent South African filmmakers in 2013 in response to a variety of challenges they were experiencing, including access to international markets and finance.

For the last two years, with assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the ATFT has been leading SA Indies delegations to selected film festivals and markets in Europe, South and North America.

Speaking ahead of the SA Indies' departure for Toronto, Baza said the ATFT's missions had brought over US$50-million worth of production work, foreign direct investment and sales revenue to South Africa, while enabling local filmmakers to market the country to international audiences.

Nokulunga Jimana Mntwapi
Nokulunga Jimana Mntwapi, from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, is one of 20 emerging filmmakers who will be travelling to Toronto under the SA Indies banner.

"They network with other filmmakers from various parts of the world, attend workshops that increase their knowledge, and interact with potential buyers and investors. All of this bodes well for the transformation and the growth of the film industry in the country."

Strengthening the SA-Canadian film relationship

Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Mzwandile Masina, who will lead the SA Indies team to Toronto, said SA's participation in the festival would further strengthen its relationship with Canada's film industry, which was cemented with the signing of the Canada-South Africa Audio-visual Co-production Agreement in 1997.

Following engagements between the DTI and stakeholders in the Canadian industry in Toronto last year, a delegation of eight Canadian film producers visited three South African cities earlier this year.

They participated in a South Africa-Canada co-production panel discussion at the Durban International Film Festival, were given a tour of post-production facilities and studios in Johannesburg by the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC), and visited film studios in and around Cape Town, where they participated in business-to-business meetings with established and emerging producers.

Zamo Mkhwanazi's short film The Call
Zamo Mkhwanazi's short film The Call is one of four South African films that will be showcased at TIFF 2015.

"The mission by the Canadians was a great success as it showcased South Africa as a shoot location and demonstrated the technical capabilities of the country," Deputy Minister Masina said.

Film and television is identified as a priority sector in the DTI's Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) due to its huge potential for job creation and skills transfer.

Through its Film and Television Production Incentive, established in 2004, the DTI has ploughed around R2.4-billion into more than 400 film productions. And by July this year, more than 20 productions to the value of R64-million had been approved for the South African Emerging Black Filmmakers Incentive, which the DTI launched in September 2014.

"The sector is critical in that it generates foreign earnings for the country, but most importantly, contributes approximately R3.5-billion into the economy and has led to the creation of more than 25 000 jobs," Masina said.

Baza was full of praise for the DTI's film incentives, saying this was one of the reasons why film was one of South Africa's growth sectors.

"We have been speaking to producers from all parts of the world, and we have established that the kind of support that the DTI provides to the film industry is the best globally," he said.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission