Address by Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha at the 6th Apollo Film Festival held at the Victoria West Town Hall, Northern Cape

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30 Sep 2006

Premier of the Northern Cape : Mme Dipuo Pieters
MEC of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture  Mr M.K. Molusi (in absentia)
Mayor of Victoria West  Mr Arens
Executive Mayor of the
Representative of the Flemish Government, Mr Yves Wantens
Representative of the French Embassy, Mr Vincent Garrigues
CEO of the NFVF, Mr Eddie Mbalo
Members of the ADA Board
Filmmakers, Directors, Producers, Actors
Distinguished Guests

It is, indeed, a great pleasure and an honour for me to be addressing you this evening. I came all the way from Pretoria to be here tonight because I regard this film festival and this awards ceremony as a very important step in the growth of the creative industries and the film industry in particular.

It is exciting to learn that the youth of our country are enthusiastic about following a career in the audio visual industry. You most probably already know that a student from the South African Motion Picture and Live Performance (AFDA) Tristan Holmes won South Africa yet another Oscar. This young filmmaker won the 33 rd Student Academy Award through his film ‘Elalini’ It is a story about a female police officer who is caught in between her duties as a police officer and her responsibility as a mother. We wish to congratulate Tristan for this achievement and for once more placing South Africa high on the global map.

I regret that I could not be here through out the festival. I believe that the festival has been a great success. I understand that the productions were of very high standards, and that there has been a remarkable improvement since last year. I am quite confident that any of the participants, be it filmmakers, crew members, performing artists, stand a good chance of representing South Africa in any of the major film international festivals.

I understand that the Apollo Theatre is in itself a monument, that was built in the late 1920’s and was revamped in the late 1950’s, only to be reopened in 1999, and now the Apollo Theatre operates as a Section 21 company. Its mission is ‘to promote cultures of the inhabitants of Victoria West, and filmmaking, arts and crafts, which will ultimately result in economic development and cultural enrichment of the area.

We appreciate the efforts of the Apollo Festival especially its skills development programme. I understand that the Apollo Theatre offers a two weeks skills training programme in filmmaking, which is conducted by an experienced filmmakerZulfah Otto-Sallies. I am also thrilled by the outreach programme offered by the festival. I would like to see more people, coming here to see the creative work of our young people

South Africa has since 2004 demonstrated that it can hold its own against the world’s best in the film industry. In my first year as Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, I had the opportunity of leading South African delegation to participate in the Cannes film festival in France. That year (2004), I think, was a very successful year for our film industry. In the past two years South Africa has been scooping up a number of awards in some of the most prestigious international film festivals. Today we can be proud of our achievement of our country, which include an Oscar Academy award for best Foreign Film “Tsotsi”. And also the nominations of films like Yesterday, Drum and U-Carmen e’Khayelitsha. Zola Maseko also won the “Stallion of Yennenga” for his film “Drum” at the African Film Festival (FESPACO) in the previous year.

We are pleased to have amongst us today, another achiever who won the Ammy Award three days ago for his film “Lion Trail and this is none other than Francois Verster. Please join me in congratulation Francoir for this outstanding achievement.

South Africa is increasingly becoming aware of the economic and social importance of the creative sector. Throughout the world, governments are beginning to recognise the creative industries as an important vehicle for promoting local economic development, cultural tourism and a national identity with all its diversity. We need to understand better the full economic contribution of creativity to the economy of our country. We know that the creative industries constitute one sector of our economy but we have not yet conducted a comprehensive study to determine how much creative industries contribute to the GDP.

Film, television and advertising are at the centre of our creative industries, they are however supported by so many other industries such as design, music, dance, fashion, craft, architecture, scriptwriting and literature as well as technical services, such as lighting, sound, stage and events management. The Audio Visual industry is the vehicle that pulls along with it all these creative industries. Besides, the production of just one film boost other sectors such as hospitality industry, the business sector, suppliers of equipment, and suppliers of consumables.

Skills development in all these industries become critical, and requires government to develop a comprehensive and well coodinated strategy to ensure job creation and economic growth. The strategy should incorporate the establishment of Incubators that will target skills development in a holistic manner that will give access to many more aspirant artists. These Incubators will also provide a platform for the transfer of skills by the older and experienced artists and crafters to younger generation.

Festivals, other than creating a market for local audio visual products, create jobs for those who are in the industry for those who are from other disciplines. One should think of a film production whereby, technical experts of sound and lighting will be needed, transport services, accommodation and catering services, crafts and fashion designers. This is evident to us that filmmaking in this country can be utilised to address poverty alleviation and economic stimulation.

I am making an urge to the youth that the film industry is in their hands to take it to another level. When South African pop music ‘Bubblegum’ was becoming outdated, we thought that there would not be a market for our local Disco music any longer, and then the youth came up with Kwaito as a music genre. And since then young musicians especially those from the previously disadvantaged backgrounds gained more ownership of their productions. More of our youth considered music as a profession as more of them studied music at tertiary institutions, and that has helped to shape up the curriculum of music in many of the tertiary institutions. These young people came up with alternative venues for concerts and markets for their own music. We have heard in their interviews when these Kwaito stars confessed that they used to sell music records from the boots of their cars.

A challenge for our young filmmakers today is that they do not have adequate resources for their productions. I would urge these all young filmmakers not to give up hope as we lobby for Treasury for an increased financial injection into the film industry. In his 2006/2007 budget speech, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Pallo Jordan, announced the allocation of an additional amount of R9million to film and audio visual industry. This amount will assist in promoting and developing the industry.

However, as government, we must make the point that it is the community of Victoria West, and the larger community of the Ubuntu Municipal area and, indeed, the people Pixley ka Seme district municipality, particularly the previously disadvantaged who must benefit from the Apollo Community Project. It should be utilised for the upliftment of these communities. The communities must take ownership of this project and this modern film facility. The programmes must be people-centred, in other words, the Apollo Community Project should take into account the diversity of the local communities.

I believe that there are many interesting stories that are often told by the people of this area about their history and their culture. These stories should be used more often in film productions. However, stories about the local people must be told by the people of this community so as to avoid distortion or misrepresentation.

I also believe that the spoken languages in this area are IsiXosa, Afrikaans and English, and it is, therefore, unacceptable that only the Afrikaans and English medium is used. The indigenous languages should receive equal treatment as any other language. Government cannot continue to invest money in programmes that perpetuate inequality. The Arts Institutions that provide for skills development should make a serious effort to ensure that transformation the accelerated.

Furthermore, the participation of young women in such programmes should be encouraged and vigorously promoted. Women should be afforded meaningful opportunities that will enable to assume leadership positions and be economically empowered. Men should not grab all the opportunities that arise. They must remember that women also want to enjoy a fair slice of the pie.

To date, DAC has signed Co-Production Treaties with the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Canada. The thrust of signing these Treaties is to create or to increase a market for South African audio-visual products globally.

Co-productions are a way of consolidating finance for films. They allow film practitioners from both countries to collaborate at various levels, sharing expertise, budget, and also to explore the maximum marketing and distribution of the audio visual products.

The Department also supports the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) which acts as the link between all African Cinemas on the Continent. FEPACI promotes and protects African Filmmakers against the dominance of developed countries.

We should always remember and appreciate the role played by the arts and culture in the struggle for our liberation, and we should continue to use this medium to address the challenges that we face today like, poverty, unemployment, sexism and racism, HIV and AIDS. I cannot emphasise more the need to elevate this Province, and that cannot be done without acknowledging our Identity, our Heritage, our Pride, our Culture as a people.

In Conclusion, I would like to congratulate organizers of this event, and thank their sponsors, the NFVF, the Flemish government, the Open Doek Film Festival as well as the Premier of the Province, and the MEC Molusi and the Mayor of Ubuntu Municipality (in absentia) for their support. Thank you also to the Executive Mayor of the Pixley ka Seme, Comrade Hazel Jenkins, and thank all the guests and members of the local community for being here with us tonight. A special word of thanks to the judges for their hard work, and lastly I wish all t he entrants of this competition all the best.

Halala Apollo Film Festival Halala!

I thank you.