On the 23rd of April the Documentary Filmmakers' Association (DFA) is sending its second official delegation of South African documentary filmmakers to the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto.
Hot Docs is North America's largest documentary film festival. It not only screens the world's top documentaries, but its market also provides key financing and distribution opportunities for projects in various stages of production.
The 2013 Hot Docs delegation is made possible with the generous support of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). 18 filmmakers from different provinces across South Africa are attending through the dti's group Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) scheme that supports emerging exporters. To this end, the delegation includes young, up-and-coming documentary filmmakers who are working on their first documentary films and attending Hot Docs for the first time. This opportunity will provide a significant leap in their documentary filmmaking careers. Beyond the dti's group EMIA scheme, some filmmakers have the option to self-finance their trips, access funding through the dti's individual EMIA scheme or through the NFVF.
'The Devil's Lair', produced by Neil Brandt and directed by Riaan Henriks, is the only South African documentary selected to screen at Hot Docs 2013, where it will be having its World Premiere. The film is the story of a Cape Flats gang-leader who must grapple between doing what is best for his young family while struggling to lead his men through a deadly drug turf war.
5 South African projects have also been selected to pitch at Hot Doc's new pitching platform, Hot Docs Deal Maker, which provides 55 projects in development or production with the opportunity of one-one one meetings with leading international decision-makers including distributors, sales agents and commissioning editors. The projects selected are 2012 Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Grant recipients 'Blindness' (Team Tarbaby), 'Bukom Fighter' (Village Boy Productions and frank films), 'Little Red Dragonfly' (Thinking Strings Media), 'Ndiyindoda' (Mandela Bay Pictures) as well as 'The Shore Break' (Marie-Verite Films and frank films), which pitched at the Hot Docs public Forum in 2012.
The delegation's project consultant, Pascal Schmitz, negotiated a 30 second promotion slot before all 470 screenings at Hot Docs. The commercial, sponsored by the NFVF, will advertise South African documentaries available for streaming as rentals or purchases on video on demand platform, Africafilms.tv. The advertisement will be seen by an estimated 175,000 documentary lovers attending the festival screenings and will draw their attention to an online shop built by Africafilms.tv for the DFA, hosting South African documentaries exclusively. The DFA is hoping to use this initiative to generate immediate revenue for its members, as Canadian audiences have both access to high speed internet and the disposable income to be able to rent or buy documentaries online.
The DFA regards its regular participation in top international festivals as an important step towards developing the South African documentary film industry. As South African documentary filmmakers are becoming increasingly reliant on international partners, it is crucial that they develop their networking and pitching skills, and knowledge of global trends and expectations. The DFA, dti and NFVF recognise the importance of enabling such skills development to those who would otherwise not have the opportunity to access international film markets and festivals.