World Sports


Emerging South African filmmakers, especially women, trying to break into the industry, now have a real shot at making their movie dreams come true.

Government and its partner organisations such as the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) have introduced programmes to attract and skill women into the sector.

Among those programmes in place are access to funds, training and skills development through various bursaries as well as mentorship programmes.

The Department of Trade and Industry has also established the Black Emerging Filmmakers Fund which aims to assist in bridging the inequality gap for filmmakers in South Africa.

These initiatives by government are expected to help women address the main gaps of in the industry which have been identified as funding, mentoring and training.

This emerged on Wednesday during The New Age business briefing on "Women into Local Content Production". The briefing was attended by Communications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, NFVF Chairperson Mmabatho Ramagoshi and PanSALB CEO Rakwena Monareng.

Through the Presidency task team on creative industries, Ndabeni-Abrahams said they are putting in place better structures and systems to make the South African film industry a global competitor, while telling honest South African stories that are in line with the country's values as a nation.

These are stories that drive social cohesion and national identity.

The Deputy Minister urged women not to be "fronters" in production companies with regard to ownership of production companies.

"Though the Presidency task team on creative industries we are reviewing the funding criteria because they are not empowering women. Women do not own the studios, which is why we said our broadcasters have to come to a point that if they are commissioning you- they must ensure that the studios that they utilise must belong to women."

She said work also continues in the development of skills required by the industry.

"At policy level as government- we are going to make interventions, and we are going to do something on skills development. We are working with the SETAs- there is enough funding for skilling but if women can organise themselves and knock on our doors."

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams emphasised that for women to succeed and break stereotypes - they need to support each other rather than seeing each other as competitors.

"They must always at all times seek to complement each other because that is only when they will be able to win the fight against all that they are going through in the industry," she said in addition to marketing their content.

She said local radio stations and social media can play a crucial role in this regard.

"Let us tap into the digital platforms that are there. There are lots of platforms where we can empower and operate in so that we can reach the target markets."

Ramagoshi said the NFVF is funding 64 bursaries per annum of which 60% goes to women. The state-funded institution also has three mentorship programmes for women film makers.

"In-house we also have training- where we train for script writing, internships where we expose the youth to other companies," she said, adding that they also support South African-owned production companies and prioritise projects of national importance and proposals that contain local content and have empowerment or training components.

Government has also identified the film industry as a sector with excellent potential for growth and is regarded as a catalyst for both direct and indirect employment of people from different sectors of the economy.

The industry contributes around R3.5 billion a year to the country's economy, according to a 2013 study conducted by the NFVF.

PanSALB's Monareng said there is a need to invest in the country's film makers in order to compete with other countries and keep the money at home.

"It is important to keep the money home," he said, adding that his organization gives advice on how to structure scripts with a language balance.

"There is a bigger market in rural areas that needs to be explored in terms of content," he said, calling on women to tell their stories as they have the gift of speaking subtly and transcendently.

Ndabeni-Abrahams shared the same sentiment and added that women must tell their stories.

"Women in the sector need to educate, entertain and inform others. If you do not market your craft nobody will know about," she said, noting that the SABC's 90% local content strategy presents a great opportunity to address these challenges, especially for women.

Ramagoshi added that the local cinemas should be encouraged to place local films for more than a week on circuit so they can make money.