At a glittering ceremony held on Wednesday 1 August, the Gauteng Film Commission launched Women’s Month in style and announced four successful projects that will be supported during the first quarter of this financial year 2012/13.

Jeppe on a Friday
A still from Jeppe on a Friday, on of the four film projects supported by the Gauteng Film Commission in the first quarter of this financial year.

The GFC commits to supporting films that aspire to excellence and accomplished storytelling, and substantially contribute to the development of the Gauteng film industry. Support has been given to assist filmmakers with the development, production, post-production and distribution of their films.

  • The GFC proactively strives to support Made in Gauteng projects and practitioners by providing:
  • development funds for features, drama, documentary and digital media
  • production assistance in targeted initiatives, one-off projects, or in collaboration with broadcasters or other funding entities
  • support to projects that enhance employment and professional development opportunities, and the creation of a vibrant screen sector for independent filmmakers.

“We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the industry and the growth of the local content,” GFC chief executive Mzwandile Masina said. “All in all, we are very excited about prospects for this year.”

The four projects supported by the GFC are:

Jeppe on a Friday

Jeppe on a Friday follows eight people over the course of a day, as they reveal the dreams and desires that tie them to the city, and how they survive.

We meet Beninese entrepreneurs Arouna and Zainab, who survived 10 days barricaded in their apartment while xenophobic violence raged in the streets below. Later, the couple established a West African restaurant fondly referred to as an “embassy of foreigners”. As Zainab says, “When you choose a life of adventure, you choose a life of suffering too.”

Ravi is a second-generation Indian shop owner who considers himself a Jeppe boy. A shrewd businessman, Ravi grew up in the neighbourhood, until the apartheid government forcibly removed his family.

Vusi, a garbage reclaimer, walks 15 kilometres with his trolley from the affluent suburbs into the city every day, transforming waste into money, and remaining proudly independent. We meet Mr Gift, a blind Zimbabwean who, with a few hundred other blind migrants, fled to Johannesburg and now illegally occupies an inner city building.

Then there is JJ, a young white venture capitalist who returned to South Africa from Europe, hoping to develop what he believes might be the next New York-style urban environment in the inner city. His project is up against building hijackers and slumlords, but also people with nowhere else to go.

Shot by a team of up-and-coming South African directors, Jeppe on a Friday reveals how identity and community are defined in a changing African metropolis. Underneath it all are everyday struggles, laughter and love, and the ways people find to live with, or apart from, each other.

Alexandra

Alexandra is a six-part documentary shot fully on HD and aimed at local and international broadcasting platforms. Based on the book Alexandra: A History, it is being produced by documentary filmmaker Rehad Desai under his production company Uhuru Productions. The documentary already has a licence deal with SABC 1 and will be broadcast in October 2012.

The film is still in production, with five parts already shot. It will be launched in Alexandra on 23 and 24 September during the township’s centenary celebrations. The episodes will cover politics as a lived experience, rights to the city, the involvement of women as key actors, and Alexandra’s culture.

The 48 Hour Film Project

The 48 Hour Film Project is an exhilarating sleepless weekend of filmmaking, where participants are given the challenge of scripting, shooting, and editing a short film in 48 hours – and most importantly meeting the submission deadline and challenging them to learn to work under pressure. However, the competition is one of the very last activities, after back-to-back intensive workshops from conceptualisation to the completion and delivery of the product. Through its competition and festival, the project aims to advance filmmaking, promote filmmakers, and encourage them to get out there and make a film.

Elelwani

Elelwani is a dark romantic comedy directed by Ntshavheni waLuruli, adapted from the novel of the same title by TN Maumela. It offers important insights into Venda culture, reflecting the myths, legends and taboos of not just cultural beliefs but the challenge of incorporating contemporary South African aspirations with deep-rooted ritualistic practices. The film shows how education is important to changing the treatment of women in the Venda community.

The making of the film in contemporary South Africa could not have a stronger historical relevance than now, as the issue of women’s rights and their relation to cultural practices remains one of the most debated issues not just in South Africa but across the continent. Such a film challenges not only local audiences but offers foreign audiences insight into a culture very rarely, if ever, seen, since so little is known about the sacred and ritualistic practices of the Venda community.

The film’s intention is not a romantic obsession with the African past. Rather, the attraction to this story lies of its timeless social themes and its cultural and political relevance to contemporary experiences in South African life.

For more information contact Tumi Ntshingila, GFC PR & Communications Manager, on phone 011 833 0409, fax 011 833 0282, cell 083 447 7011 or email tumi@gautengfilm.org.za.