Address by Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha at the opening of the World Cinema Festival at Sithengi 2005, in Cape Town
It is indeed a great pleasure and privilege for me to stand in front of you at a time when South African cinema is making its claim amongst the nations of the world and the broader film fraternity. South African film has indeed come of age. As we celebrate 10 years of Sithengi, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessors, the current Minister of Justice, Ms Brigitte Mabandla and the Minister of Water and Forestry Affairs Ms Buyelwa Sonjica who I am told, during their tenure as Deputy Ministers of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, embraced this event and contributed to what it is today.
I am told Minister Mabandla was one of the key drivers at the establishment of this Market and I am glad to say that I will carry on from where she left off.
The Department of Arts and Culture takes pride in its involvement in such a great initiative, which now celebrates its 10th year of existence only a year after we celebrated 10th years of our freedom. The Department acknowledges the support from other Government Departments, the National Film and Video Foundation, the Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town, parastatals and the National Lotteries for their continued support of this initiative. We urge others to come forward and support this initiative that has become one of the important vehicles for investment attractions into our film industry. It is of absolute importance to create synergy and work in a comprehensive coordinated manner if we are to achieve what we have set ourselves as a nation.
It is critically important particularly by State institutions and government departments with a role in the development of our film industry to have a co-ordinated approach to service delivery and work together. It is the reason we established the National Film and Video Foundation to co-ordinate all film related programmes so that as government we are guided by one strategy. I am informed that the Film Industry Indaba adopted the NFVF’s Value Charter in August this year as the programme that will take us to the next decade of our democracy. We will on our part as the Ministry and the Department do everything in our power to ensure that our government listens to your call and adopt the Value Charter as our film development programme.
This Film Festival offers many opportunities to all emerging South African film makers: the exposure to local and international buyers, the platform to grow audiences, the platform to expose the films to peers, but most of all to create interest to South African stories.
Our Department’s idea of investing in Sithengi and the Cape Town World Cinema Festival is a commitment to unearth, nurture and promote South African talent in story telling, and to provide opportunities to those artists who may not otherwise be able to afford to showcase their best repertoires.
In many ways the Cape Town World Cinema Festival is thriving in promoting and profiling the objectives of NEPAD through the sharing of African stories. The Department of Arts and Culture, on behalf of the South African Government hopes that the expertise obtained in this festival will go a long way to cement ties across political boarders and differences in gender and language, hence the theme “difference”.
It is commendable that the festival does not only cater for those in the first economy but will reach those in periphery of the city.
The opening film tonight, “Tsotsi” a film adopted from a celebrated novelist and a playwright, Athol Fugard, will be screened in at least three townships around Cape Town. It is evident that African films will never really know success until a critical mass of Africans have access to the cinema and to films. Ours is a continent that is largely non-electrified, with the majority of its people still living in villages. In this instance, the Department of Arts and Culture is encouraging other Departments especially those participating in the Economic Cluster to show interest one way or another in assisting the growth of our film industry if this country is to obtain an increase in its economy from 4 to 6% by 2010, as set out by the President Mr. Thabo Mbeki.
The Department regards filmmaking and festivals of this nature, but one of the programmes that assist it in achieving its objectives of social and economic development. You might be aware that the Department and the NFVF will be hosting the African Summit in the new year. Amongst other objectives of the Summit, is to provide a platform for African film professionals to dialogue about the state of African cinema within the context of the global economic order and global cultural industries and make contribution to NEPAD cultural programme.
The Summit is scheduled to take place in April 2006. I urge all professional filmmakers to make note of this Summit and respond positively.
I would like to complement the Chairperson of the Board, Eddie Mbalo; the CEO Michael Auret and the entire board for having made this event possible.
In conclusion, Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa and also the Ministry of Arts and Culture, to extend a very warm welcome to everyone present here and those participating in the events of the Sithengi and the Cape Town World Cinema Festival, and also a special welcome to all our friends from our sister countries.
I hope you will enjoy every minute of your stay in our beautiful country and experience the hospitality and “ubuntu” of the people of South Africa and particularly those of Cape Town.
I thank you.