By CityLife Arts Writer
The Durban Film Mart is back in a physical format and filmmakers have every reason to be excited as its full programme promises to deliver on expectations to those who will attend the event.
“The Durban FilmMart Institute (DFMI) is delighted to present the 2023 DFM Industry Programme. Now entering its 14th edition, DFM will be held from 21 – 24 July 2023, under the theme, African Constellations, highlighting the talent and diversity of the African film industry. This year’s DFM marks the return to a physical edition, spanning four days at the Southern Sun Elangeni in Durban.
The DFM 2023 Industry Programme approaches the latest trends and pressing issues head-on. The programme sees the return of key thematic strands such as DFM in Conversation, Durban Does Docs, Animation@DFM and SA in Focus, while introducing two additional strands: Talking Cents and The Power of Programming, which are set to enrich the overall experience,” says a statement from the organisers.
“As we unveil the Durban FilmMart 2023 Industry Programme, our focus remains on highlighting the immense talent emanating from Africa. What sets DFM apart is our unwavering commitment to talent development and forging transformative pathways for African filmmakers,” says Magdalene Reddy, Director of the Durban FilmMart Institute.
Reddy adds, “DFM provides a wealth of opportunities, empowering filmmakers to reach for success and providing them with knowledge and experience to access global markets. Our chosen theme, African Constellations, encapsulates the idea that each individual is a brilliant star, and together we form a constellation that represents the vibrant African film industry.”
Talking Cents presents panel discussions that revolve around the financial landscape aimed at filmmakers in Africa who are seeking financial support and sustainable success. In Talking Cents: Chasing Waterfalls, John Giwa-Amu (Goodgate Media) will share his insights on accessing alternative financing, while emphasising the value of diversifying approaches to funding. Going beyond conventional avenues accessible to industry professionals, Talking Cents: Creating Equity Beyond the Continent will feature Pape Boye (Black Mic Mac), Erica Motley Depuis (Impact X Studios) and Steven Adams (Alta Global) and will offer a comprehensive exploration of the alternative models and ways of procuring private equity financing. Power relations in acquiring funding will be discussed in Talking Cents: Beyond Funds – Navigating the Funding Power Dynamics which includes Jon Sesrie Goff (Ford Foundation), François Bouda (Africa No Filter), Emad Eskander (Red Sea Souk), Aïcha Bahari (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) and Dominic Davis (Sundance Documentary Fund). As Africa continues to become a source of content in the international marketplace, more professionals are crossing over into the mythical Hollywood system. In Talking Cents: Demystifying Hollywood, Steven Adams (Alta Global) and Dana Sims (Creative Artists Agency) will analyse this shift and how filmmakers can maintain authenticity.
The Durban FilmMart and The African Real Collective have joined forces to co-curate Durban Does Docs, the official documentary-focused stream of programming. The African Real Collective (ARC) is an innovative alliance of documentary organisations operating in Africa, the diaspora and globally, dedicated to fostering robust connections within the filmmaking community. Durban Does Docs: Cross-Continental Collaboration: Designing the Documentary Filmmaking Ecosystem will launch the programme, featuring Mandisa Zitha (Encounters South African International Documentary Festival), Laurent Bitty (Les Films Du Continent), Femi Odugbemi (Zuri24 Media Lagos) and Reem Hadad (Al Jazeera). The guest speakers will unpack what measures exist in the African documentary landscape and can be built to create a more dynamic ecosystem that not only creates a space for filmmakers to grow and show their work but develops the documentary community on a holistic level. Durban Does Docs: Cross-Continental Collaboration: Barriers, Catalysts, Successes includes Amil Shivji (Kijiweni Productions), Hicham Falah (FIDADOC) and Toni Kamau (We are not the machine), who will explore why collaboration is crucial, not only in connecting the film community, but also in connecting the continent.
The Power of Programming: Diversity in the Industry brings together programmers and industry experts driven by the ethos of representation who will delve into the pivotal role of programming in fostering the growth and evolution of the film industry. Guests include Lyse Ishimwe Nsengiyumva (International Film Festival Rotterdam), Mbali Mashaba (Behind Her Lens Visuals), Nataleah Hunter-Young (Toronto International Film Festival) and Bird Runningwater (Cloud Woman Media). Programming: Creative Documentaries on Screen considers the constraints of creative documentaries reaching the market, as streaming platforms and television lean heavily towards true crime and factual documentaries. The session features programmers who have championed the programming of creative documentaries, including, Sarah Dawson (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam), Lara Sousa (MiradasDocs), Yiqian Zhang (HOTDOCS), Madeline Roberts (Visions du Réel) and Mandisa Zitha (Encounters South African International Documentary Festival).
SA in Focus explores the expansive South African film and television industry with leading local film organisations. Sisters Working in Film and Television will address the underrepresentation of women in key technical roles, share success stories and explore the barriers and changes needed to promote gender equality. Writers Guild of South Africa will examine the demands on writers in the evolving global market. Writers from film, television and factual content will discuss different writing approaches, while maintaining an authentic voice in the global marketplace. The Independent Black Filmmakers Collective session will unpack the details of their 3-month programme for Producer/Scriptwriter teams, which develops concepts for feature films and series formats. The Documentary Filmmakers Association presents a session focused on creative strategies in documentary filmmaking, emphasising the narrative crafting process in post-production. In addition, the Independent Producers Organisation will present a session about their new producers guild.
The Durban FilmMart Institute and DW Akademie, in collaboration with Berlinale Talents, have set out to create a programme and resources to develop a training system for developing new mentors on the continent. For the Next Generation: Future Mentors Programme will bring together institutions and film professionals, including Yanis Gaye (Goree Cinema), Azza Chaabouni (ISAMM), Neiloe Whitehead (Black Seed Film Hub) and Don Edkins (STEPS), who played key roles in developing the programme and will share insights about its significance and the collaborative process involved.
Animation@DFM returns for its third year, dedicated to exploring the world of animation across the African continent. This engaging series features creators, institutions and collectives, providing a platform to explore the initiatives available to filmmakers operating outside the confines of mainstream studios. Animation projects are a vital part of the official DFM Pitch and Finance forum, and this year’s programme will signal a deeper exploration of the animation landscape.
The Co-Production Corner is a series of discussions that focus on co-production opportunities within the continent and beyond. DFM brings together national film bodies and filmmakers as they discuss not only the benefits of collaborating in the region, but also philosophical connections. Featured organisations include Spcine (Brazil), Jamaica Promotion Corporation, and the Nigerian Film Corporation. The conversations will explore opportunities for collaboration, including financial incentives and structural support, while creating a space for engagement with the international film community.
What’s AI Got To Do With Us? will offer insightful analysis of the impact of technology on the film and TV industry. Discover how the industry is being revolutionised by technological innovation, both locally and globally. In this discussion, DFM will bring together story development executives with practitioners in the film and technological field to engage on the possible symbiotic relationship between filmmakers and AI, as well as the potential of AI to enhance efficiency in filmmaking while addressing the challenges and potential threats it poses.
The Industry Programme will continue to have the presence of some of the biggest streaming platforms on the African continent and beyond. The programme will feature the likes of established players such as Netflix and Showmax, engaging with filmmakers in discussions such as story development and distribution, while seeing the inclusion of platforms such as Viu and Amazon.
The flagship keynote series, DFM In-Conversations, offers talks by renowned professionals. Throughout these 90-minute conversations, experts will discuss their work, motivations and opportunities they have encountered along their journeys. DFM will continue its steadfast commitment to fostering empowering dialogues, by placing a special emphasis on amplifying women’s voices within the industry. Notably, South African producer, Tshepiso Chikapa-Phiri (Known Associates Entertainment (KAE) and American CEO Effie T. Brown (Gamechanger Films) will feature as Headline Speakers this year. Also included as a Headline Speaker is celebrated Abidjan filmmaker, Philippe Lacôte.
DFM’s 14th year marks another milestone in the DFMI journey as a springboard for African filmmakers into the international market. Join us as we celebrate the work of film professionals, contemplate a future-forward African Star System and showcase the extraordinary projects that reveal unique facets of the African continent.
Early Bird registration for participation is now open until the end of June. Visit https://durbanfilmmart.co.za/ to review the options and https://durbanfilmmart.co.za/dfm-2023-website-programme/ to explore the full programme of activities and opportunities on offer at DFM.