Durban awards future African films

2012-07-27 08:05

A feminist Western set in the Karoo about the search for an apartheid nuclear weapon called Flatland has been tipped as a project to watch at the Durban International Film Festival.

Cape Town producer David Horler and writer-director Jenna Bass have walked away from the Durban FilmMart with considerable support for their project.

Screening films has become just one part of what’s on offer at the festival.

The FilmMart also hosts discussions, panels, workshops, an incubator for young talent and pitching sessions.

This year, 12 documentary and 11 feature film proposals were selected for an intensive mentorship and skills training workshop for producers and directors to prepare them to pitch their films, which they did to visiting industry experts.

The process culminated with the announcement of awards for the strongest pitches.

Cash for development, trips to international film festivals and grants were handed over by sponsors.

Horler and Bass, who are yet to debut a feature, are at the forefront of a new wave of genre films being developed in South Africa.

They were awarded with trips to the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Eave European Producers Workshop as well as €5 000 (R50 620) from WorldView for being the most promising feature film project.

Another pitch that won big was Live From Zimbabwe. Jackie Cahi and Rumbi Katedza’s feature plays out in a small Zimbabwean mountain village that has been neglected by government.

The son of the chief gets hold of a radio transmitter and sets up a pirate station, bringing a stirring of revolution.

Another South African to get the nod was producer Steven Markovitz, who is developing a controversial African coming-of-age story about two girls with Kenyan writer-director Wanuri Kahiu called Jambula Tree.

Arte France awarded them €6 000 to continue work on the film.

Anant Singh’s Videovision awarded R75 000 for Best South African Film Project to The Visit, lm developed by Imraan Jeeva, Omar Khan and Sara Blecher, which will be directed by Nadia Davids.

It is a sweeping political narrative that explores one family, exile and revolution.

The documentaries that came out tops were South Africa’s The Devil’s Lair and Kenya’s Logs of War. The producers and directors will be making their way to the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam in 2013.

Producer Neil Brandt and director Riaan Hendricks’s The Devils Lair has already attracted support from several international funds.

It delves into crime and the community, tackling the realities facing ex-convicts.

Logs of War by Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman is an expose of the environmental war crimes of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, his illegal forestry concessions and the trade of timber for weapons.

While South African film continues to rise and attract foreign support, what is notable about this year’s festival and mart in Durban is that the Kenyan industry also looks set to boom.

One of the best-loved new features here this year is Nairobi Half Life and there are several new features in development in the city.

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