There was great excitement as the inaugural Durban FilmMart (DFM) ended, with the announcement of the winner of the Hubert Bals Fund Award in the ‘Specialist Projects’ sidebar.
The award of €5,000 towards script and project development, for “the most promising African project presented at the DFM,” was given to Jenna Cato Bass for her project “Tok Tokkie.”
The winner, chosen by a jury comprising Matthew Plouffe (Focus Features/USA), Peace Anyiam-Osigwe (Africa Film Academy/Nigeria) and Iwana Chronis (Hubert Bals Fund/Netherlands), was one of 12 projects selected for the Durban Film Mart, from a total of 80 projects submitted from South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia and Burkina Faso, with contributions in both feature film and documentary genres.
“Although the jury’s decision was unanimous,” says Hubert Bals Fund representative, Iwana Chronis, “it was a tough choice because all the projects have enormous promise in some way.
“‘Tok Tokkie’ is fresh, innovative and original as well as having enormous commercial promise, that could appeal to South African, African and international audiences alike. In addition, we felt that the €5,000 prize would really make a significant difference to this project.”
The Durban Film Mart (July 23-26), is the largest and one of only two co-production markets on the African continent. Hailed as a “resounding success” by delegates and guests alike, 185 delegates, from 16 countries, attended the four-day event.
“The main aims of the DFM were that it would be a key driver in raising the visibility of film content from Africa and encourage project collaboration between African film-makers from different African countries,” says acting CEO for the Durban Film Office (DFO) and joint-organizer of the DFM, Toni Monty.
“In addition, it has given African filmmakers the opportunity to pitch film projects to leading financiers, funding organizations, sales agents and internationally-reputed directors and producers, in order to form alliances for future collaborations.”
“We hope that as a result of these partnerships DFM will become a ‘feeder’ of African product to other international festivals and markets such as CineMart (Rotterdam), International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and others,” Monty continues.
The delegate program, presented by local and international specialists, Luciano Gloor, Mike Kelly, Leena Pasanen and Clare Downs took the form of master-classes, workshops and covered industry-related issues, such as financing and funding projects, managing rights in the digital age, pitching and packaging product, scriptwriting and marketing and distribution strategies.
“As a result of the meetings and connections made at DFM we hope that film financiers will be successful in identifying fundable African projects that will ultimately find their way to the big screen,” says Peter Rorvik, director of the Center for Creative Arts and Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) and joint organizer of the DFM.
“Feedback from the funders and financiers in attendance is that the standard of the projects was very high and the producers and directors were well prepared, as a result of the input they had received from the master-classes and one-one meetings with the specialist speakers.”
“The DFM promises to be a further catalyst for growth in the region by becoming one of the key events of the South African and African film industry and a focal point to interface with global parties and stimulate interest and activity in the city and the province,” Rorvik continues.
According to Marit van den Elshout, the Durban FilmMart’s international liaison person from CineMart Rotterdam, the DFM/DIFF partnership brings an important business component to the existing Durban International Film Festival.
“It provides a focal point for international players to interface and engage about global trends affecting and ultimately impacting on how Africa accesses the global marketplace. Running a film festival and co-production market in tandem is essential to the success of a market of this nature for the long-term,” van den Elshout emphasizes.
“We are extremely fortunate to have had the support, in cash and in kind and co-operation of our local role players in order to make this FilmMart such a success,” says Monty, “from the support of the eThekwini Municipality, to Tourism Durban, SABC, CineMart and the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Microsoft, TIKZN, IDFA and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).