‘Women in Film’ festival a boost for local film industry

Provincial female filmmakers will come under the spotlight at the weekend at the second annual Eastern Cape Film Festival.

Journalism students at Walter Sisulu University will be screening their final year documentaries at the Eastern Cape Audio Visual Centre today.
The Eastern Cape Audio Visual Centre will be hosting “Women in Film: A different take in telling our stories” film festival on Saturday and Sunday

The festival, at the Eastern Cape Audio Visual Centre, starts this morning and continues until Sunday.

Themed “Women in Film: A different take in telling our stories”, the festival will see various Eastern Cape female producers and other film stakeholders engage in workshops about the industry, while locally produced films will also be screened.

Panelists for the event include renowned Isidingo producer Phumla Hopa, content producer Noxolo Nelana, line producer Lesedi Siswana and camerawoman Pam Zokufa.

Nigerian social change filmmaker, Anne Abok, will also be in town.

Representatives from the national Department of Trade and Industry and Industrial Development Corporation will also form part of the panel.

Festival director Nceba Mqolomba said yesterday emerging and professional filmmakers from all over the province would “critique their work and build relations”.

Mqolomba said the more than 100 local filmmakers who were expected to attend the festival would also have the opportunity to listen to presentations from potential funders.

The event would also honour the 60th anniversary of the famous women’s march against pass laws in Pretoria in the 1950s, Mqolomba said.

“This festival was set up as a platform drawing filmmakers, both professional and aspirant, as well as industry experts to conversation on the entrenchment of film as a potential economic sector in the Eastern Cape.

“This will be used as a platform to explore how through film, sustainable employment opportunities can be created and heritage celebrated,” he said.

By developing local filmmakers, he said not only would socio-economic challenges be dealt with but it would also assist in tourism promotion and positioning the Eastern Cape as an investment destination and film location.

“The objective of the festival is to gain an understanding of the direction the film industry is taking, with the significant changes occurring in the fields of production, distribution, broadcasting and new technology, which makes it easier to create content,” said Mqolomba.

He said the film industry created 25000 jobs and contributed R5-billion annually to South Africa’s gross domestic product.

“The key impact of this exercise will be to see film impacting positively on the preservation of Eastern Cape culture and to promote local tourism.”

Workshops to be held by industry professionals will target participants from previously disadvantaged communities and will concentrate on script writing, directing, editing and producing. There will also be daily screenings of locally produced documentaries, feature, short and student films, animation and music videos.

East London-born Nelana yesterday said it was exciting that women filmmakers were being recognised.

Nelana said it was difficult for blacks, especially women, to break into the film industry and the festival would assist them in broadening their skills base. — asandan@dispatch.co.za