SA loses out at popular film fest

2012-09-16 09:42
Nadia Neophytou in Toronto, Canada
The absence of a significant South African presence at this year’s Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) was sorely noted, as filmmakers from around the world showed their latest work to the North American market and buyers from the rest of the globe.

The 11-day event wraps up today after screening 300 movies.

TIFF has become one of the world’s most popular film festivals and the last major one before the awards season kicks into motion.

A number of films that have had their debut at the fest have gone on to Oscar glory, like The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire.

Last year South Africa had six films in the line-up, and eight the previous year.

This year only one, Sleeper’s Wake, made it into the official selection.

However, other films featured signal the country’s growing role in the global film industry.

Dredd, the 3D action which screened as part of the Midnight Madness schedule, was shot entirely at the Cape Town Film Studios, while Johannesburg made for a convincing Damascus in the thriller drama Inescapable, starring Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.

In previous years, a local delegation headed by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), with members of the Department of Trade and Industry, has attended the film event.

The NFVF said sending a delegation this year was “quite impossible” because only one film was selected from the country and opted instead to focus on the Independent Filmmaker Project’s No Borders event taking place in New York next week.

Sleeper’s Wake, based on the novel by South African author Alistair Morgan, follows a recently widowed man who takes refuge in a small coastal town where he gets caught up in a dangerous relationship with a neighbour’s daughter.

The film received a warm welcome at the festival, where Berk, with actors Deon Lotz and Jay Anstey were in attendance.

The consul-general for South Africa in Canada, Tselane Mokuena, believes it’s just a blip on South Africa’s film radar.

“Next year’s we’ll be back with a bang,” she told guests at a cocktail function to promote the South African film industry’s infrastructure and benefits.