Address by Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa at the launch of the Film Hub, East London, Eastern Cape Province

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05 Mar 2020

Programme Director: NFVF CEO, Ms M Khanyile

Premier of the Eastern Cape: Hon LO Mabuyane

MEC of Sports, Arts and Culture: Hon. F Bayeni

MEC of Economic Development: Hon. MG Mvoko

Mayor of Buffalo Metropolitan City: His Worship: X Pakati

CEO of ECDC: Mr N Dlulani

Cortex Hub Chairperson – Dr Andile Ngcaba

NFVF Board Chairperson: Mr P Molefe

Chairpersons of the Boards and Members Present

Artists present

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

Fellow South Africans I extend my warm welcome to all of you present in this gathering. We are meeting in during the month that the people of this country through their government have declared a human rights month.

Fellow compatriots, it remains our task to remake out of our fractured past a more socially and economically inclusive society that is proud of all its cultural expressions; and a people that act together to enable the birth of a new culture and create new forms of engagement towards greater unity.

The challenge we face as a society is the process of building our nation out of a vast cultural and economic legacy of difference and inequality, well articulated in the Freedom Charter of 1955. It states amongst other things the following under the clause

“The Doors of Learning and Culture shall be opened”:

One of the biggest crimes of the system of White supremacy is the damage it has done to the development of the people of South Africa in the fields of learning and culture.

“On the one hand, the minds of White people have been poisoned with all manner of unscientific and racialist twaddle in their separate schools, colleges and universities.

“As far as the non-White people are concerned the picture is one of deprivation all along the line.

“There has been made available to them all the worst forms of so-called Western culture. The best creations of art, writing, the theatre and cinema which extol the unity of the human family and the need for liberty are only made available in dribs and drabs, whilst the general position is one of a cultural desert”.

The Eastern Cape is the victim of this historical injustice deliberately perpetuated to exclude the majority and thus kill the talent.

The launch of this film hub in the Buffalo City is one step in advancing our objective of building the National Democratic Society and correcting the injustices of the past.

The purpose of the film Hub is to bring together all areas of film production under one roof, from pre-production to post production thus providing a high end studios equipped with multiple stages and are capable of meeting the productions needs of high end budget productions while simultaneously servicing the television and commercial production. It will also provide an avenue for aspiring filmmakers to have access to production and post-production facilities at sustainable rates as well as screening facilities. As the Department we are intent in our purpose to seeing more skilled artists and original South African stories coming from all arears of this culturally rich country.

Film is one of the few unique artistic tools of expression that plays an important role in cultural exchange, co-existence, tolerance and it is easily accessible and reaches a wider audience.

Its audio-visual nature creates an immediate impact that shapes opinions and inspires generations of people for centuries to come. It is this medium that bestows upon us the freedom to dream, to explore controversial subjects, to conjure up images that builds and sustains nations.

This launch takes place against the backdrop of a story of a South African film and television industry built by a people that have overcome conquest and conflict, characterised by resistance and resilience to adversity against all odds. It is a story of re-defining and charting a new course wrapped in our unity in diversity that resembles the multifaceted nature of our diversity as a people. It is a story of tolerance and appreciation of our difference and uniqueness. 

This is a story that, when narrated through fiction drama, documentaries, television series and reality shows, peels off various textual layers of cultural and racial tensions and hidden socio-political contrasts that was held hostage by institutionalized cultural repression.  This is a story waiting to be unleashed.

In this new digital economy, immaterial value increasingly determines material value, as consumers are looking for new and enriching "experiences". If South Africa wants to remain competitive in this changing global environment, it needs to put in place the right conditions for arts, culture, language and heritage, spurred by high level of creativity and innovation to flourish in a new entrepreneurial culture. To that end, more than R80 million has been earmarked to implement various capacity building programs for 2019/20 such as upskilling and training of our artists.

The launch of this hub is consistent with our vision of upskilling and training. 

Further, the Department has taken a position to declare the PE Opera House as one of its cultural institutions. This decision is propelled by the need for a more equitable distribution of spaces for artistic expression across the nine provinces of the Republic. Currently, theatres that are declared as cultural institutions are located in four provinces, i.e. Gauteng, Western Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. We have recently completed and launched the Northern Cape theatre, and we are in the process of establishing another one in Limpopo. This will bring to a total of 7 provinces, the number of provinces with theatres. We are also working on North West and Mpumalanga.

Economic aspect of the industry.

This Film hub comes as a result of a study that the NFVF undertook five years ago as a means to stimulating the economic activity, driving transformation, creating jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, address the lack of film infrastructure that will give access to production and post-production facilities to aspirant filmmakers.  Film Hubs are strongly developmental in character. Our Department invested additional amount for this project over and above the NFVF’s normal allocation. This is indicative of our commitment to create access to creative spaces for young aspirant practitioners to thrive without having to leave their communities. Not only will this hub provide affordable, subsidised equipment for film production and post production it will also hopefully attract big production companies to come and shoot in this Province stimulating the local economy.

The cultural and creative industries (CCIs), and in particular the audio-visual sector has long been recognized as a catalyst for economic growth in South Africa with a potential to contribute immensely to the South African economy and to employment. Recent studies have shown the sector’s tremendous improvement in contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), revenue collection and its multiplier effect in terms of creating employment.

The historical realities underpinning the development of this sector places an emphasis on the creatives themselves and those who control the means of production to ensure that this industry plays a significant role in nation building and fostering social cohesion, national identify and the participation of those who have been historical excluded from the entire value chain.

As we gather today, we must not forget the long journey that has led us to this point.  We must not forget that the majority of our people have historically been excluded in the critical processes and tasks assigned across the value on the development of this sector, more importantly young people, women and people with disabilities.  Not only have young people and women been historically excluded in the industry’s value chain, they have also been on the receiving end when it comes to the distribution of available resources for their creative ventures and ideas, let alone ownership of the value chain.

Importantly for us as Sports, Arts and Culture, film is seen as a vehicle to foster friendship, sharing among people, social cohesion and cultural economic tool not only to rival the best in the world but one of the key catalyst for social and economic development growth in the 4th Industrial revolution.

I therefore invite the industry experts to join hands with us to make this dream a reality for the benefit of all of us.

This Film Hub, will be known as Nomhle Nkonyeni Film Hub in honor of her contribution within the sector.

In coming financial year, 2020-2021 it will be formally inaugurated.

Thank you very much for your attention.