South African Documentary Filmmakers at the 2012 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival
Two South African documentaries, Sands of the Skei Queen by Ryley Grunenwald and Buddha of Africa by Nicole Schafer are set to shine at this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival scheduled to take place from the 26th of April to the 6th of May 2012. Founded in 1993, Hot Docs is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference, and market held annually in Toronto, Canada. Each year South Africa’s documentaries are showcased and represented by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), and individual producers.
Sands of the Skei Queen has been selected to be part of the Hot Docs Forum taking place on the 2nd and 3rd of May 2012 as part of the festival while Buddha of Africa has been chosen to receive a total of $115 000 in development grant from the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund.
Sands of the Skei Queen is among 25 projects from 15 countries that will be presented at the Hot Docs Forum which were selected from a 150 submissions. A project supported by the National Film and Video Foundation, Sands of the Skei tells the story of a young rural activist, her poetic 79-year-old village headman and their tribal Queen who are taking a stand against the plan by the South African government to build a highway in their land so an Australian mining company can exploit their titanium-rich coastline.
Sands of the Skei Queen producer Ryley Grunenwald says they are looking forward to pitch at the Hot Docs Forum, particularly after having been an observer last year. “It's a tough nut to crack but we could not have asked for a better opportunity for Sands of the Skei Queen. With the market being quite over-saturated and creative documentary broadcast slots diminishing, it is incredible that we will have the attention of the world's top sales agents, commissioning editors, and documentary funders for 15 minutes. Although the pitching process can seem a bit daunting we know that Sands of the Skei Queen is a strong story. It's like a Shakespearean story unfolding in reality," said Grunenwald.
Buddha of Africa on the other hand explores China’s rise in Africa through the story of a Malawian orphan being raised at a Chinese Buddhist orphanage near the country’s economic capital, Blantyre. Another NFVF supported project, the documentary is one of the two projects that have been selected to receive the Blue Ice development grant. This grant is aimed at providing financial support to independent filmmakers based in developing African countries, with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of social, cultural and political documentaries produced on the continent.
All grant recipients will attend the Hot Docs 2012 festival and also participate at the International Co-Production Day on the 30th of April as part of the South African delegation.
NFVF Head of Production and development Clarence Hamilton says it is historical that two local documentaries get to be recognized at different levels, in a single massive international festival. “Both Sands of the Skei Queen and Buddha of Africa tell unique and real African stories about real African people. What is important with such stories is that they reflect on the real sequence of events as experienced and felt by real people, they don’t seek to project Africa and its people in a particular way, and the recognition that the two projects are getting at Hot Docs is a well-deserved one. As the NFVF, we are very proud of both the projects,” said Hamilton.
This year South Africa will form part of the official delegation of the festival to be hosted by Hot Docs. Through an application by the Documentary Filmmaker’s Association (DFA) the Department of Trade and Industry is supporting the South African delegation to attend the festival. The DTI is financing the travelling, accommodation, marketing and exhibition costs of the South African projects taking part in the festival.
The application process for the Blue Ice fund’s second round of disbursements will be open from the 25th till the 20th of August 2012.
For more information on the application process, eligibility requirements and deadlines, visit http://www.hotdocs.ca/
Issued by Naomi Mokhele