Zwelakhe Shangase

Johannesburg will hold its own international film festival from next year, the newly appointed head of the Gauteng Film Commission, Mzwandile Masina, announced on Monday evening.

Man on Ground

A still from Man on Ground, one of the four movies – including Elelwani, Ugog Helen, and One Last Look – the GFC has selected as its main projects for dialogue and networking sessions at the Durban International Film Festival.

Masina was speaking at a filmmakers farewell cocktail party at Melrose Arch north of Johannesburg as they bade farewell to filmmakers who will be taking part in the 33rd annual Durban International Film Festival starting tomorrow.

He said: “We are proud to announce that we will be hosting the first annual Johannesburg international film festival. We want to make sure that we put together one of the best shows on the African continent.”

Many stakeholders from municipal, provincial and national levels, and companies from the private sector, had been approached to help put the Johannesburg film festival together.

Masina added: “The MEC for arts and culture in Gauteng, Lebogang Maile, has also expanded the mandate of the film commission to include the digital aspect as well as engaging industry players.

“But also, we are reaching out to the fashion, music and other industries to make sure that we find a sustainable approach so as to ensure that people in the arts don’t die as paupers.”

The GFC is supporting a number of productions that are headed for the Durban film festival but selected four feature films – Elelwani, Ugog Helen, One Last Look and Man on Ground – as the main projects which will start dialogue and networking sessions.

He said: “We’re always excited to go to the Cannes film festival or New York but we decided to take a different strategy this time.

“We are recognising that if we can lead as a country, we’re making a meaningful contribution to the film industry. We felt that we must start supporting our own local films here at home before we can venture outside. The four features have been selected for the purpose of showcasing, and for promoting them at the festival.”

Masina said their strategy was to hold on-site business meetings and workshops and to try to find ways of strengthening the film industry, as well as the Gauteng economy.

The Durban film festival this year emphasises the promotion of the local film industry as well as those of other countries.

There is massive support for the burgeoning animation industry and also for the growing number of documentaries that the local industry is producing.

The Durban film festival runs from tomorrow until July 29 and screenings will be held in the city as well as in some in townships.

This article was originally published in The New Age.