The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture in partnership with Industrial Development Agency (IDC) led the delegation representing South Africa at Cannes. The South African flag flew proudly as the South African film industry cemented its place as a noteworthy contributor to the international film industry.
The NFVF and the IDC opened the activities with a "Welcome cocktail" aimed at introducing international delegates to the South African film industry. This message was augmented at the Mannequin Films' cocktail event where discussions were focused on promoting South African production services.
Two South African films participated in the Cannes' Un Certain Regard. Rafiki, a co-production between South Africa, Kenya, France, and Germany was applauded for not only delivering exceptional performances but also how it shines a light on the poignant LGBT issues of navigating life in many African communities. The film was fantastically received after its world premiere and picked up by Film Movement for North America distribution rights.
The second South African film in the Cannes' Un Certain Regard was The Harvesters/Die Stropper, the film is a co-production between South Africa, Greece, Poland and France. The film was hailed by critics as "having a brilliantly attentive script", "'mythical and timeless air" with "breath-taking scenes".
The NFVF used the inclusion of the two films in the official programme as an opportunity to utilise them as case studies when hosting co-production platforms for filmmakers. The Rafiki co-production session was held on the 12th of May 2018. The panelists, who included Wanuri Kahiu - director from Kenya, Steven Markovitz - producer from South Africa and Tamsin Ranger - co-producer from South Africa focused the discussion on the film's funding model as well as taking the film industry stakeholders on the incredible journey taken to complete the film.
The Harvesters/Die Stropper's co-production session was hosted on the 13th of May 2018, with the film's producer, Michael Auret, and co-producer Thembisa Cochrane highlighting how co-productions with South Africa work and their experiences while making the film.
These sessions were hosted at the South African pavilion which, over the years, has hosted over a thousand delegates. This has become a home base for all South African delegates as well as festival attendees who are interested in doing business with South Africa. The NFVF's objective for facilitating South Africa's participation at international film festivals is to fulfill its mandate to globally position the South African film industry, open up markets for South African content and to secure partnerships for co-productions.
NFVF funded film, Nommer 37 hosted a market screening for buyers and sales agencies, together with the film's international sales agent Reel Suspects. This was a resounding success and resulted in the film being picked up by a North American distributor, Dark Star Pictures. The film is set to release in South African cinemas on the 1st of June 2018.
Cannes has become a lucrative platform for South African filmmakers to do business. According to Mayenzeke Baza, Head of Sales at South African sales and distribution agency, AAA Entertainment, their agency confirmed a 40% increase in acquisition offers on South African titles, particularly those titles that have an all-black people cast.
The 7 filmmakers that the NFVF funded to attend the festival also reported potential deals from various meetings with sales agents, distributors and potential co-production partners. Producer of The Colour of the Skull, Chuanne Blofield who was funded by the NFVF attend the festival, said "looking back at the workshop, I realise I have gained a priceless experience and have made invaluable advances for our project to the extent which you cannot put a price on." The project is written and to be directed by Sibs Shongwe-la Mer was awarded the Best Pitched Project by Arte Cinema among 15 other projects participating in l'Atelier Cinefondation.
"I am pleased with all the business that South Africans managed to achieve at this year's Cannes film festival and in a tough economic climate, the NFVF is committed to securing partnerships that have become vital in enabling the NFVF to continue fulfilling its mandate. We are therefore particularly thankful to the IDC for contributing towards ensuring that all the NFVF funded filmmakers and, other South African delegates, who attended the festival had a ready for business space at the South African pavilion," said NFVF CEO, Ms. Zama Mkosi
"It is our objective to create a bigger impact in the future by not only representing South Africa but also ensuring that the pavilion is representative of other African countries. Negotiations are currently underway with Nigeria, Namibia and Kenya to co-host an African pavilion at the Toronto International Film Festival (tiff) and at Cannes 2019." Mkosi, concluded.