For nine years Leon van der Merwe successfully ran the Stellenbosch-based Cape Town & Winelands Festival. But now he has teamed up with Jehad Kasu (Marketing Director) and Rafiq Samsodien (Executive Chairman) to re-launch it as the Cape Town International Film Market & Festival (CTIFM&F).
Kasu explained the rebranding: “We want to position the festival as a global brand, a platform that can help transition the Cape Town film industry from a services industry to a content producing industry.”
The film market is an important addition to the festival and will provide opportunities for film production companies to interact with support industries and establish contacts for content procurement and new projects. Cape Town has not had a film market since Sithengi (2001-6). Film is an important contributor to the region’s economy. The Cape film and media Gross Geographic Product (GGP) stands at R2 632 million and generates 9 490 jobs. This amounts to 20% of South Africa’s total film industry revenue, which - according to the NFVF - added R12 billion to South Africa’s GDP in 2016.
Gauteng is the hub of the South African film industry, and the number one destination for content business is DISCOP, operated by Basic Lead - a business to business trade-show organiser with offices in Abidjan, Johannesburg and Los Angeles.
Patrick Zuchowicki, who owns DISCOP, enthused, “Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s fastest-growing entertainment marketplace. It is set to expand by 30% in the next five years, delivering close to US$10 billion in consumer revenue by 2021. The number of pay-TV subscribers is set to double in five years, alongside the rise of OTT (over the top) video services. And, untapped advertising revenues represent a further source of potential growth for sub-Saharan Africa.”
To accompany this expansion of the sub-Saharan entertainment content marketplace, DISCOP is adding new markets in Zanzibar (in 2018) and Lagos (in 2019) and has entered into a cross-collaboration with CTIFM&F to encourage festival delegates to attend both events. Zuchowicki: “Growth will be driven by home-grown content and intra-regional trade. The hundreds of talents, storytellers, comic book publishers, content buyers and producers who will comprise the entertainment content industry in sub-Saharan Africa don’t need to travel to industry gatherings outside of Africa to improve their expertise, pitch projects, source innovative ideas and close deals. They will remain in Africa to develop, acquire, co-produce and distribute content made in Africa.”
Cape Town is positioning itself as a film destination. Lance Greyling, Cape Town City’s Director of Enterprise and Investment, points out, “When compared to other cities, Cape Town comes in as the single cheapest destination in terms of production, set, site, utilities and labour costs. The city also has the perfect climate and good lighting conditions for eight months of the year, making it a compelling location.” The film industry has a long value chain, impacting tourism (accommodation, vehicles & restaurants); manufacturing (set builders, plumbers & electricians); electronics (camera, sound & lighting equipment) and IT (animation & software). It also positively impacts job creation, poverty alleviation, transformation and skills development.
The industry showcases Cape Town, its diversity of locations, technical film capacity and talent, and provides value-added marketing and investment collateral for the City. And, This is in line with the City of Cape Town’s imperative in terms of economic growth and development. Greyling.
The theme for the inaugural CTIFM&F is ‘collaboration’, with an emphasis on co-productions. The long-term vision is not only for more films to be completed in Cape Town, but for local film-makers to take local stories tothe international market.
But Kasu believes more could be done to incentivise content production: “What counts against the Western Cape is that we don’t have a film fund or film commission that actively supports content production - that’s where the real money is. We’re losing out on potential value-add for the local economy when a foreign production company shoots here, but completes their post-production back home. We need companies to come here and do co-productions with us. They gain from reduced costs and new stories, and we gain from royalties. And that is how opportunities are leveraged by producing content in a territory, as opposed to just servicing.”
CTIFM&F has signed a five-year partnership with the Global Max Media Group (GMMG), a powerful Chinese media company with offices in Gaborone, Botswana. GMMG has an on-the-ground presence in 26 countries, with media platforms across various all channels: television, radio, print and digital.
Kasu explains the significance of the partnership: “The Chinese and the African markets are ripe for our content. Through this relationship we are introducing South African stories to China, and introducing Chinese stories to Africa. They are coming to Cape Town to engage with our established and emerging content producers. As they have a strong presence throughout Africa it will become easier for us to push some of our local content into the rest of the continent, based on the same partnership. That is a great value proposition to promote local content, not only to China, but to the rest of Africa too.”
CTIFM&F has invited top international professionals to share invaluable experience and insights that will benefit all local producers and industry professionals.
The 10-day celebration of world cinema includes: award-winning films from over 50 countries; exciting world premieres for three South African films: District Six: Rising from the Dust, Woodwind and Matwetwe; and special focuses on LGBTQI, Nordic and short films. The festival also includes industry events public events, and offers outreach and skills transfer programmes, encompassing both national and local initiatives.
“The Cape Town Film Market is a welcome addition to our events calendar and will bring the necessary international focus and prestige to this industry in Cape Town,” said Greyling.