The future of African cinema looks bright

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The 5th edition of Talent Campus Durban – a collaboration between Talent Campus Berlin, Berlin International Film Festival and Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) - took place alongside the 33rd edition of the film festival and the 3rd edition of the Durban FilmMart. The 50 Talent Campus participants, who had been selected out of more than 250 submissions, represented 18 countries from Algeria and Morocco in the north and Malawi and South Africa in the south.

The overarching aim of the Talent Campus, which originated in Berlin in 2003, is to inspire and enlighten film professionals in the early stages of their career about their craft and about the dynamics of the film industry.

The five-day programme, which took place in July 2012 under the banner “Africa Superimposed”, focused on what African films can bring to the rest of the world in terms of its rich cultures, unique approaches and perspectives.

The programme included workshops and mentoring sessions with seasoned industry professionals from across the world, as well as spellbinding and thought provoking master classes with legendary filmmakers Moussa Touré from Senegal and Tom Tykwer from Germany. Additionally, the participants were given ample opportunity to network and exchange both with peers and senior colleagues.

One of the participants, Ethiopian filmmaker Zelalem Woldemariam, who is in the process of developing a short film project with the prestigious Focus Features Africa First Programme, was delighted to meet not just other alumni among the participants, but also other great young filmmakers. He deems the opportunity to rub shoulders with skilled filmmakers, funders, producers, experts and festival directors invaluable and concludes, “I will benefit from the wisdom shared by the experienced filmmakers I met in Durban during my entire career”.

Talent Campus Durban 2012 also featured the 2nd edition of the Doc Station, a sub-section that allowed three young creators from three different countries to present their project at the Durban FilmMart and to be given mentoring and support ahead of the pitch.

This year saw Talent Campus Durban introduce a new sub-section for film writers and critics, in which three writers participated. “Piloting the Talent Press was interesting and exciting”, Monica Hemming-Rorvik (Talent Campus Durban manager and Assistant Manager of DIFF) says. The Talent Campus team will further work on strengthening it even more.

Talent Campus Durban greatly benefits from being part of an international network of Talent Campuses. “The experiences of ‘the mother campus’ in Berlin (represented in Durban by its Programme Manager Matthijs Wouter Knol) and of the other satellites in Buenos Aires, Guadalajara, Sarajevo and Tokyo are generously shared and contributes to making Talent Campus Durban great”, Hemming-Rorvik says.

Both Monica Hemming-Rorvik and the Director of the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, Dr Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, confide that Talent Campus Durban is considering including additional components in the programme that have already been added to the Berlin Talent Campus. These are: a script station and perhaps also a distribution station, a project market, a sound studio, a post-production studio, and an actor studio. Every change needs to be carefully considered though, so no decisions have been made yet.

Hard pressed to select one of the many highlights of the 2012 Talent Campus Durban, Monica Hemming-Rorvik, finally chooses meeting all the participants: “Amazing creative people who give me hope that fantastic African stories will reach wider audiences.”

Her sentiment is echoed by von Ruckteschell-Katte, who confirms that not only is the number of applications increasing every year, but the profiles of the applicants are also becoming more and more impressive. “This proves” she says, “that today’s young African filmmakers are hard working professionals who take their careers and the film industry seriously”. Zelalem Woldemariam, who is discussing a future Ethiopian-South African co-production with a fellow Talent Campus participant, agrees and declares that he is proud to be part of the current generation of new filmmakers.

Talent Campus Durban is presented as a partnership project in co-operation with the Berlinale Talent Campus, with support from the German Embassy of South Africa, Goethe-Institut of South Africa, and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism.