Originally published at: Union’s Filmmakers Reflect on Industry’s Past and Future – Novos Mundos
eKapa— Hundreds of writers, directors, and actors have gathered at the eKapa Film Festival for screenings, awards, and celebrations of the year past. The annual event has grown steadily since its humble beginnings in 2001, and it reflects the nation’s vibrant and expanding film and entertainment industry.
As the eKapa Film Festival marks its centennial, it is the future of that same industry which now falls under the spotlight as many take this opportunity to discuss the obstacles it faces.
Among them is Director Sthembiso Gijimi, known for movies such as The Airman and Red Raining.
“Domestic films have become increasingly prevalent within the Union,” Gijimi says, “But we face consistent issues with funding.”
Indeed, low budgets have given rise to a strong subgenre of independently made “found footage” films, some of which have attained viral popularity through internet memes and cult followings.
However, according to Gijimi, many domestic productions suffer from their inability to attract investment and other support. This is particularly true for local language films which cannot easily gain audiences abroad, or even outside of specific localities. Gijima and others within the industry have referred to this as having a “stifling effect” under which unique stories are unable to reach the big screen without first transitioning into English or other languages – A fact which many complain is antithetical to the Union’s national values.
Gijimi and his colleagues have spearheaded efforts to garner government support in the form of expanding subsidies and tax breaks granted to other industries in order to help filmmakers find a stronger footing.
“The public sector should realize that the film industry can not only contribute economically to the nation, but can also support and raise the profiles of our nation’s diverse cultures and art forms,” Gijimi explains, “This community of artists has already had some remarkable accomplishments on its own, but it will take external support in order to achieve true self-sufficiency. If the Ministry of Culture demonstrates its commitment to the infrastructure and financial support needed by this sector, we are all very confident that private sector investment will follow.”