Glitz, stars in Cannes

2012-05-27 09:44
Nadia Neophytou
A documentary about Nelson Mandela’s childhood, a buddy-cop comedy and an animated film featuring the voice of Samuel L Jackson were just some of the film projects showcased by South Africans at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The festival, staged in the south of France, wraps up today after a whirlwind 12 days of people-watching, deal-making and networking.

This year’s event marked the biggest participation by South African filmmakers since they became regular guests at Cannes 13 years ago.

The National Film and Video Foundation, together with the arts and culture department, hosted the South African Pavilion at the International Village in Cannes.

But the nation didn’t have any films in the official selection this year – as was the case last year and the year before.

But the foundation’s chief executive Zama Mkosi was convinced our exclusion from the official selection is not a setback.

“The fact that we had the biggest contingency, of over 100 filmmakers, this year is a sign of the growing importance of the film industry in South Africa’s economy,” she said.

“It really shows that filmmaking is not just an entertainment exercise. It is not just a hobby – people can make a decent living out of it.”

Mkosi said South Africa should not be disappointed that there wasn’t a film in the official selection this year. “It doesn’t end there,” she said.

“We need to interrogate why this is the case this year, and go back and work harder so that we feel confident we can match what’s on the international stage.”

Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile signed a co-production treaty with Ireland, bringing the total number of such agreements to eight.

These treaties enable nations involved to share the costs involved in filmmaking and create a larger distribution avenue.

Anant Singh, Videovision chief executive and a veteran at Cannes, said Mashatile’s engagement with the film industry was valuable.

“It was great to have him come in to the Cape Town Film Studios and see the team of 300 people who are employed right now.
“It’s a 15-year journey we’ve been on, and to have him there (in Cape Town), and then here in Cannes, understanding the industry and how it works, is something to be very excited about.”

Singh is behind the upcoming film based on Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom.

For Stuart Forrest, whose company Triggerfish created the animated film Zambezia, it’s about exploring other avenues of film production for South Africa.

Comedian David Kau hope South African comedy will enjoy similar success. He and fellow comedian Kagiso Lediga were shopping around their buddy-cop film, Blitz Patrollie.