SA Film Summit 2019
February 4, 2019

SA Film Summit 2019: Film Can Build a Nation

Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, gave a rousing speech this morning on the opening of the inaugural SA Film Summit, held at Skyrink Studios in Johannesburg. Here’s a look at the highlights:

We Need Engagements Like This

“There is a need for an engagement like this – and not as a once off but annually – to get together and to take stock of everything that has been done.”

Partnership was emphasised in his speech. “In true partnerships, in rationalising what we have – and not working in silos – I think we can get something out.”

Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

Skyrink studios is 100% black owned and managed. It is one of the biggest and most sophisticated studios in the country, and has received support from the IDC and Transnet. The studios are a great example of government’s support of black industries across the economic spectrum.

Motivation for the Summit – Telling a Different Story

“We are gathered here for the next few days to answer the fundamental question of what will be the contribution of the creative and cultural industry, particularly the film sector in developing the South African story, and us contributing to the efforts of nation building and social cohesion. This is the one single-most important story of South Africa. After the fall of Apartheid in 1994, the story that should be out in the world should be of how we are forging this path of building a nation.”

“Whatever we do today will determine the kind of future we are building. The film sector, which is an integral part of our society, was heavily affected by the gross historical injustice metered out against the black population in general – effects that are still being felt to this hour.”

“What is our national identity today? In the past you would have responded to this question differently – we were the children of Apartheid. In South Africa today you experience racism without racists. It’s a phenomenon where everyone punctuates whatever they say with ‘I’m not racist’”

“We must not forget the long journey that has led to this point. We must not forget the majority of our people have historically been excluded in critical posts and tasks assigned across the developing sector. More importantly, young people. Women. People with disabilities.”

DAC Committed to Supporting the Film and TV Sector in Africa

Investing in the film sector is imperative because the unlocking of its economic potential could be huge – look at Hollywood, Bollywood, etc. Even Hillywood (Rwanda’s film sector) is growing really fast.

“After looking in the cultural and creative industries, we have come to the conclusion that our national interests are going to lie in the film industry.”

Market access to BRICS countries will go a long way for South African filmmakers. We need audio-visual treaties with these countries because they want to see stories from South Africa. SA signed an audio-visual treaty with Brazil last year – we could reach over 100 million people through this!

“Wherever people go and whatever they watch, they want to see themselves.”

“The growth of Nollywood is felt throughout the continent.” SA can partner with Nigerian filmmakers to strengthen film growth on the continent both in terms of storytelling and the production of quality content.

“The preservation of women in the industry is not unique in the world.” SA has made many strides in the development of women.

Film as a Catalyst for Economic Growth

“The cultural and creative industries have long been recognised as a catalyst for growth. Many studies have shown the industry’s contribution to the gross domestic product of the nation and its multiplier effect.” The Summit must answer the need to reorient the industry to one that transfers knowledge as set forth in the National Development Plan.

We need to embrace technological and digital developments in order to grow the film sector. We need to capture opportunities like digitisation and convergence.

The film and TV industry have seen significant strides since 1994 but there is more that needs to be done. “The Summit acknowledges this and seeks to respond to rapid developments following policy, legal, market and technological shifts.”

“We should celebrate as Africans the 50th celebration of FESPACO this year.”