Film body rocked by mass exodus

2014-11-23 16:00

A spate of resignations at the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is threatening to hamper government’s film development plans.

The resignations include the head of production and development Clarence Hamilton and the manager in charge of documentaries, Neiloe Whitehead. A few months ago, the unit also lost the manager in charge of fiction films, Thandeka Zwane.

This, in effect, wipes out the core of the NFVF’s practical film development unit.

Other resignations made known to City Press this week include head of marketing Tumi Rabanye, and policy and legal officer Mawande Seti.

City Press this week spoke to several employees at the NFVF, who wanted to remain anonymous to protect their jobs.

Almost all of them cited the same reasons they believed were behind staff unhappiness – micromanagement by the NFVF council, chaired by Mmabatho Ramagoshi, as well as a lack of protection from council interference by CEO Zama Mkosi.

“We are not given respect. The council does not trust us to do our jobs,” said a source.

“Basically, we report to council and council is supposed to be nonexecutive. They interfere in day-to-day work. They reject our advice if they feel like it.”

But speaking from New York this week, Mkosi vehemently denied these claims.

“This is absolutely not true,” she said.

“There is no staff member who directly reports to council except the CEO … The NFVF has a track record of good governance as can be clearly seen from the clean, unqualified audit reports for the past 13 years.”

She detailed the film body’s operations and structures, insisting that operations at NFVF go by

the book.

When asked if the alleged interference was political, staff sources said no, with one citing the NFVF’s backing of anti-government films such as Miners Shot Down.

They said it was personal.

A disgruntled source said some council members were not willing to work with certain individuals and organisations in the film industry.

“Things are decided based on personal agendas and egos,” said

the source.

Two staffers told City Press the problems began when Mkosi took over as CEO. She had previously served on the council and now struggled to say no to it when it interfered with the foundation’s daily business.

City Press was this week contacted by several producers and directors in the industry who were concerned about the impact of the resignations.

Very few films get made in the country without development funding from the NFVF.

Some said their projects in development were now dead in the water as it would take months before new staff were up to speed.

The NFVF denied there would be a negative impact on the industry.

Said Mkosi: “The NFVF uses the services of external industry panel members to review the applications.

“This structure was put in place to ensure transparency and integrity of the process.

“In the interim, while the NFVF embarks on the normal process of staff replacement, temporary measures will be put in place to ensure the industry is not impacted,” she said.

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