The GFC had a productive second quarter, providing support for three feature film productions, two distribution initiatives, two training and five audience development projects.

Happiness Is...
Khanyi Mbau, Mmabatho Montsho and Renate Stuurman will play the three central characters in Happiness Is..., one of three new productions enjoying support from the GFC.

Production support

Happiness Is…

The film adaptation of Cynthia Nozizwe Jele's award-winning novel Happiness is a Four-Letter Word began filming in and around Johannesburg in July. A South African version of Sex and the City, Happiness Is… tells the story of three friends trying to find happiness in contemporary South Africa while maintaining the image of success and acceptability.

The film is being produced by Blingola Pty (Ltd) with part funding from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), and forms part of the NFVF/Junaid Ahmed Productions slate of films that aim to develop key areas of black talent in the film industry. It will be produced by Junaid Ahmed and Helena Spring, along with first-time feature film producer Bongiwe Selane, and directed by Thabang Moleya. It is scheduled for nationwide cinema release in 2016.

Taking Earth

Taking Earth is the first sci-fi feature film to be produced locally after the internationally acclaimed District 9. The project is being produced in the City of Joburg by Taking Earth Pty (Ltd). It has secured an international sales agent from Canada and is targeting the Berlin Film Festival for its world premiere.

After the unsuccessful invasion of their neighbouring planet, a ruthless leader travels to Earth to find the first-born son of his enemy, who has been hiding here since the first attack. Finding the young prince will swing the war in the leader's favour, so he sets about controlling a portion of the Earth's population, so as to use them to find the one out of seven billion people. The three ships he arrived in remain hidden as the world is thrown into chaos. If his hunt is unsuccessful, his only option will be to ensure the boy dies - by destroying the Earth.

Hatchet Hour

Hatchet Hour is a sassy contemporary feature film about a defence lawyer who is about to get the promotion that will finally gain her father's respect. When she accidentally kills her gardener, she has to decide whether to own up or get rid of the corpse and hope that nothing will come back to haunt her ...

The project is set in contemporary Johannesburg, and is being produced in the City of Joburg by Lady Bug Films. It has been developed with the support of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).

The Bioskop series
The Bioskop series: "current south African stories of love, anger, turnover, struggle, human triumph, religion and a ground-breaking degree of originality".

Distribution support

South African Great Movies Production

This project is producing a series of 13 short films (60 minutes in length) for licencing with M-Net/Mzansi Magic, and exploring other potential distribution markets, including foreign TV, internet and mobile download, and DVD distribution. Filming of the Bioskop series, financed by limited liability motion picture production company South African Great Movies Production, started in Tshwane in June-July.

The series comprises "current south African stories of love, anger, turnover, struggle, human triumph, religion and a ground-breaking degree of originality. Targeted at the rapidly growing specialty film audience, the films hold strong potential to attract the mainstream audience".

Nyaope awareness documentary

This project aims to raise community and youth awareness by distributing and holding workshops around an informative, up to date documentary on the dangers of substance abuse, particularly involving the drug Nyaope. The project seeks to empower community members to recognize the symptoms of drug abuse, and to get involved in the rehabilitation of addicts. The documentary was produced in Ekurhuleni by Amazon. With GFC support, official project representatives will distribute DVD copies at eight petrol stations and other venues around Tembisa on the East Rand.

Gauteng Film Commission CEO Andile Mbeki
'We need to tell our stories' - Gauteng Film Commission CEO Andile Mbeki (left) with Petersan Mothudi, one of the film's financial backers, at the special screening of Tell Me Sweet Something.

Audience development

Tell Me Sweet Something special screening

The GFC and Rififi Pictures hosted a special screening of Tell Me Sweet Something at independent cinema The Bioscope in the Maboneng precinct on Wednesday, 2 September, ahead of its release on cinema screens on 4 September.

The screening sought to raise awareness of the potential of the province's creative/audio-visual sector, and the beautiful locations to be found in Gauteng, among decision-makers from the Province and the City of Joburg.

Tell Me Sweet Something was filmed on location in Maboneng and Braamfontein, and set out to capture the spirit of these two inner city precincts, which are helping to shape a new, creative Joburg sensibility. The GFC also supported the filming of the movie, which struck a chord with local filmgoers in September, coming in at number five in its opening week at the South African box office and raking in R1.6-million in the first two weeks of its release.

Necktie Youth premiere

The GFC supported the Gauteng premiere of another made-in-Jozi movie, Sibs Shongwe-La Mer's Necktie Youth, in September. The GFC sought to use the premiere to create dialogue about the growth of the local film industry, and to raise awareness of the sector's challenges and opportunities in government circles.

Shot in black and white, the groundbreaking debut feature from 23-year-old Sibs Shongwe-La Mer is a tale of disaffected youth, bad drugs, bravado and suicide, set among the leafy suburbs of post-apartheid middle-class Johannesburg.

The film took top honours at the 2015 Durban International Film Festival in July, winning the international jury award for best director as well as the award for best South African feature film.

Leano Screenings

Leano Screenings is a partnership initiative between BGN Holdings and the GFC to carry out film exhibitions and community development in Ekurhuleni. Tailored for young people looking to enter the film/creative industry, the mini-programme raises awareness about opportunities in the industry, focusing in particular on the business side and on distribution as a key element of the industry.

A number of Leano screening/workshops took place in Ekurhuleni in July-September. Targeted townships include Phumula, Dukathole, Bapsfontein, Reiger Park and KwaThema.

Participants at Talents Durban 2014
Participants at Talents Durban 2014 (Photo: Berlinale Talents)

Skills development

Talents Durban

The GFC supported 11 emerging filmmakers from Gauteng to attend the 8th edition of the Durban International Film Festival's Talents Durban, a five-day programme of workshops and seminars delivered by film professionals, academics and intellectuals.

Presented in cooperation with the Berlin International Film Festival's Berlinale Talents, Talents Durban provides emerging African filmmakers with training, information and networking opportunities across a range of disciplines.

A total of 40 African filmmakers were selected to participate following an open call throughout Africa, with a view to fostering new collaborations across the continent as well as with filmmakers from around the world.

The GFC also delivered a presentation at Talents Durban on its role in South Africa's fast-evolving film and TV industry.

Business Model Canvas Workshops

The GFC supported four Gauteng trainers from local organisation the Documentary Filmmakers Association (DFA) to participate in the Business Model Canvas Workshops that took place during the 2015 Durban FilmMart in July.

Thirty South African filmmakers were selected to take part in the three one-and-a-half day workshops, which trained them in using the powerful Business Model Canvas tool to plan their projects.

Business Model Canvas is a business tool that is used as a training module for creative content producers in Canada. Its power lies in its narrative and visual approach to planning, which makes it easier for users who don't have formal training in business management.

The workshops were be hosted by the DFA in partnership with the Canadian Film Center Media Lab, the National Film and Video Foundation and Durban FilmMart.

Females in Film and Television Industry (Fifti) Festival

The 2015 Females in Film and Television Industry (Fifti) Festival took place at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg during national Women's Month, from 6 to 10 August. Founded by young filmmakers Mbali Nokukhanya Ngwenya and Botshelo Mondi and supported by the GFC, the festival focuses not only on the business of film and television production, but also on the many other careers that feed into the industry, such as make-up, catering, fashion styling and more.

During this year's festival, a number of women were signed up for the Fifti Empowerment Plan, which seeks to enable young women to break into the film and TV industry through activities ranging from film workshops to SABC tours.

Eagles Academy

The GFC continued its support for Eagles Academy, a television, film and media training school for young adults from the townships, urban and peri-urban areas of Gauteng who cannot afford to attend traditional film schools. The Academy takes its students through a compressed, six-month course in film making and media, then helps to connect them with internship and job opportunities in the industry.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission