National Film Indaba sets ambitious course for industry growth


Innovative measures to support funding for local content, collaboration to maximise limited resources and strategic government interventions were some of the critical issues raised at the Fourth National Film Indaba in Johannesburg this week.

Over 300 industry representatives sent a strong signal that the film industry needed to be taken seriously as a social and economic driver.

A wide range of recommendations have been compiled by groups reviewing four strategic issues of Transformation and Human Capital Development; Infrastructural Development; Funding and Institutional Models; and, Markets for South African Content.

The deliberations on November 14 - 15 were part of Indaba to inform the NFVF's long-term macro strategy for the film industry as a response to the National Development Plan and the Revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage.

These recommendations, which will inform the final strategy, include:

Strengthening current funding models;
Providing more money for development of product and audience;
Improved intellectual property protection in term of licensing deals, similar to that of the French broadcast model;
Introducing innovative ways to expand audiences including partnering with local government to promote a movie-going culture and a state-funded distribution agency;
Distribution incentives including loyalty cards for local films; and,
The creation of a transformation charter and values statement from all stakeholders.

Opening the conference, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said the sector was critical to economic development: "As we have gathered here for this Indaba, we are emboldened by the reality that our sector, the cultural and creative industries, including film, now occupies the center stage in ongoing efforts to foster social cohesion and nation building as well as the economic empowerment of the people of South Africa," he said.

"Indeed we have met at a time when our sector is no longer seen as a nice-to-have addition to the ongoing work of socio-economic transformation. It is now firmly at the core of this work," said Minister Mashatile.

The Minister noted that South Africa was on the verge of rolling out digital terrestrial broadcasting.

"This will create numerous opportunities for local content developers, which the industry needs to take full advantage of. Equally, the industry needs to take advantage of the opportunities made possible by advancements in Information and Communications Technology," he said.

Minister Mashatile urged the industry to confront challenges such as the slow pace of transformation across the industry value chain, insufficient skills and enterprise development within the sector as well as the skewed distribution of film production and exhibition opportunities and infrastructure.

The Indaba included an announcement of a new partnership between the NFVF and Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities. The partnership will provide funding for documentaries produced by film-makers with disabilities; provide sign language at NFVF training programmes and award bursaries for people with disabilities to enroll for film related studies at South African tertiary institutions.

"This is just one of our efforts to ensure that we create an enabling environment for South Africans to tell their own stories in their own languages," said NFVF Council Chairperson Ms Mmabatho Ramagoshi

"We have had rigorous debates and discussions over the past two days," said NFVF CEO Zama Mkosi. "We have listened and taken on board the passions, concerns and insights tabled at this National Film Indaba and we are determined to define a strategy that is inclusive of the voices of the industry."

"These contributions, as well as written contributions submitted by November 30, will help articulate the policy going forward and inform our response to the new policy environment we operate in," said Mkosi.