A new township film distribution concept, dubbed Ekasi Cinema Caf�, has kicked off, aimed at developing a nationwide township-based movie theatre network. Ekasi Cinema Caf� is dedicated to screening independent films from the African continent and its Diaspora, the developing world as well as the latest Hollywood releases.

The concept was developed by the Ekasi Cinema Caf� Consortium, a public-private-partnership initiative that aims to economically empower budding filmmakers and film entrepreneurs from South Africa�s previously disadvantaged communities.

The movie theatre network will comprise single screen cinemas seating 150 people, equipped with 2K DLP cinema projectors, digital servers, Beta SP, DVCam and DVD screening capabilities and a state-of-the-art sound system for film, event and live music performances.

Nine localities across South Africa have been identified to pilot this initiative, which seeks to promote a digital cinema concept that enables the majority of South Africans to have access to the cinema experience.

Ekasi Cinema Cafe�s Motheo Seleke explains how the idea came about: �As a filmmaker, I share in the frustration of fellow filmmakers who have completed their films and have no platform to showcase their work. Film distribution and exhibition in South Africa has always favoured film content from the Hollywood system. To counter this, I founded the Aluta Film Festival in an effort to create cinematic platforms for films that do not enjoy broad release in South Africa's Hollywood-infested industry.�

Through the festival, Seleke found that South African audiences were starting to develop an appetite for diverse film content from South Africa and other countries around the world.        

The Ekasi Cinema Caf� has already begun broad consultations and stakeholder inputs pertaining to the collective vision of establishing a nationwide township digital cinema exhibition network in previously disadvantaged communities by 2015.

At present, they are finalising the selection of budding film entrepreneurs who will spearhead the establishment of the concept in their locality. Hosting of the official launch will co-incide with the next edition of the Aluta Film Festival in 2010. 

Ekasi, which means �township�, was initiated after years of research. �We pride ourselves in consulting broadly with stakeholders in the public and private sector. The Ekasi Cinema Caf� will, among other things, spearhead the installation, training, film content procurement, marketing, servicing and upgrades both over the roll-out period and onwards,� says Seleke.