Film festival set to boost industry

Rafiq Samsodien and actress Pearl Thusi at the launch of the Cape Town International Film and Market Festival.

A newly re-branded Cape Town International Film and Market Festival (CTIFMF) will take place in October.

The aim of the festival is to boost the film industry in the city, by taking cinema to those who cannot access it and providing support to film-makers.

The event started as the Winelands Film Festival in 2007.

Leon van der Merwe, festival director of the CTIFMF, said he was excited about the festival coming to Cape Town.

“There was a demand for people to see films that are not normally distributed. We immediately grabbed the opportunity to start the Cape Winelands Festival to bring international films to Cape Town,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

He was happy to see how the festival has grown in the last 10 years. “It’s got a market, three times the visitors that we had and we are overwhelmed with entries.”

He said that there were entries from more than 60 countries for the festival. “It makes you excited to see things like this happening, it’s something that the public needs and is craving for.”

He said that to try and increase audience development, the festival would be doing screenings for new audiences. “Taking it out to other communities is one of our priorities and that is one of the reasons we have partnered with the China Africa International Film Festival.”

Another aim of the CTIFMF was to help up-and-coming filmmakers and a pitching sessions would be an important part of the festival. “Young filmmakers can come and pitch their work to 12 international directors and producers to help them shape that work into a format that is ready to be sold internationally.”

He said there were also workshops, seminars and master classes planned for the festival.

Jehad Kasu, marketing director of the CTIFMF, said what was different about this festival was it was an African film festival. “For a number of years, various film industries throughout different countries have been operating in isolation of one another. We need to establish an African platform on which all of us can stand and shine together. This is is the message that we want to drive home, not only to the industry stakeholders but also to the public “

Mr Kasu said the outreach programmes, which will be announced closer to the time of the festival, will be vital to its success.

“There are lots of public participation activations that we are rolling out so that we can include the community into this festival.”

He said this would give the public a chance to see what career opportunities there are in the film industry.

“We want to challenge the narrative by taking cinema to them. We are going to have a number of public screenings. We are trying to create access to this platform by bringing cinema to the stakeholders rather than expecting them to come to us.”

He said one of the biggest challenges for people looking to get into the film industry was to acquire the right level of support. “That is one of the challenges we want to highlight through the festival and build support mechanisms so that these graduates can be absorbed into working environments.” Mr Kasu said that there would be a number of international guests visiting and the festival was looking to recreate the spirit of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Lance Greyling, manager of enterprise and investments for the City of Cape Town, said they were happy to be supporting the festival. “We believe that events such as this are vitally important in cementing Cape Town’s position as Africa’s film hub. There seems to be a new vibe in the film industry and that this industry is going places.”

He said they see the film industry as an important sector in Cape Town, one that contributes more than R3.5 billion to the local economy and employs about 10 000 people. “It also helps us position Cape Town internationally as a destination that embodies iconic beauty and enormous creativity.”

He said there was a need to form strong partnerships between government and the industry and that the festival was an example of one. “It is demonstrating that Cape Town is serious about films and filmmaking. We are also calling on all our local residents to support this festival and to come out in their numbers.”

Actor Khalil Kathrada who grew up in Bo-Kaap, said he was excited to be a part of the festival.

He also said that one of his mentors growing up was chairman of the festival, Rafiq Samsodien. “With the board of directors that we have, we have a group of people that understand the nature of the film industry. Inside the business of it and the products.”

He said it was important to explore other skills and sides of the industry as an actor. “Things start to happen when you have people with the same vision and can see the potential of something. We are grateful for our partners who have come on board and can see what this will mean for the city. What we’ve created now with the festival is to create a proper trading platform.”

He said the market was a vital component of making the festival successful.

Actress Pearl Thusi, who was unveiled as “the face” of the festival at the press conference last week, said she was excited to be a part of it.

“For far too long we’ve had our local industry professionals seek recognition around the world. Today we move away from this mindset and start building our own global stage in South Africa where we can shine. For me having worked in the United States on an American production I firmly believe that we have the talent and ability to actively compete for a place in the global film economy,” she said.

The CTIFMF will take place between Thursday October 12 and Saturday October 21 at the V&A Waterfront and other venues across Cape Town.

Visit http://films-for-africa.co.za/Film-Festival/ for details.