Film Indaba 2009

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26 Nov 2009

Programme Director
Chairperson of the NFVF Board Ms Charlotte Mampane
CEO of the NFVF Mr. Eddie Mbalo
Representatives of Government and its associated institutions
Representatives of different sectors of the film industry
Distinguished Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Last week at the meeting between the President, my fellow ministers and I with the creative sector, President Zuma began his address by saying that we were starting a conversation.

He emphasized the importance of dialogue for us to be able to address the problems of the creative sector.

He spoke about the importance of unity in a country in which the arts have been divided for so long and in which artists have chosen to express themselves as individuals rather than collectively.

The opening up of a conversation is consistent with a government that takes all facets of its society seriously.

Above all taking the cultural industries seriously, we consider and take into cognizance the pivotal role that the arts and the heritage sectors play in shaping, nurturing and promoting a way of life that is distinctly South African, thereby fostering social cohesion and nation building.

Similarly today I wish to say to you that this meeting of minds is part of this ongoing dialogue in which together we seek the best ways forwards for the creative sector in general and for the film sector in particular.

Last month on the 12th of October we met the film industry with the view to touch base on industry matters that need the attention of both government and the private sector.

We were heartened and very grateful of the responsiveness, which followed our clarion call at the October gathering for the industry to engage with the Ministry in order to collectively create an enabling environment that will adequately support a thriving industry.

Last week’s Presidential imbizo focused exclusively on the issues pertaining to the Cultural Industries.

It in this context that the 10th anniversary of the NFVF becomes important. It offers an opportunity for introspection about the first ten years of its existence and to plan for the future.

This is a vital milestone that presents us with an opportunity to assess, examine and deepen our understanding of the industry, thereby emerging with informed and well thought through interventions geared at the development of the industry in its totality.

In our view, the NFVF should use this opportunity to rigorously engage with its stakeholders. To reiterate President Zuma’s words, let us not underestimate the importance of dialogue. Genuine dialogue tells us not only what we want to hear, but what we need to know to make progress and to take the sector forward.

We do not want a land of praise-singers along but we want the criticism of those who would like to help to enhance our work and improve our policies and programmes of action. Therefore I am glad that today’s platform offers this opportunity of genuine, open and honest engagement.

We beseech all participants in this Indaba to make use of the platform presented by the NFVF to fully engage with all the topics presented to fully inform the future direction of the industry.

The second edition of the Value Charter presented particularly requires more attention as it seeks to put together a framework that will drive the developmental path of film into the future.

We are resolute in ensuring that this sector contributes to the national imperatives of developing and promoting arts and culture in South Africa and mainstreaming its role in social development. The agenda of our new administration is to expand the opportunities for a better life for all and in the arts in particular this means that we need to focus on Arts for All and building a people’s culture.

My hope is that through work in this sector, we need to see that this one vehicle through which development and promotion of the official languages of South Africa and the enhancement of the linguistic diversity of our country can be carried out.

We also need to ensure that our work in this sector extends economic and other development opportunities for South African arts and culture nationally and globally through mutually beneficial partnerships to help to ensure the sustainability of the sector.

During our meeting with the industry, some of the concerns raised were that the voice of the DAC vis-à-vis that of the DTI has been relatively quiet yet together we need to put forward clear rules of engagement with the industry.

We have allowed an arm’s length approach to prevail which is well and good, but our mandate also enjoins us to go beyond this and to be among those in the forefront of rigorously developing and monitoring the implementation of policy.

We need to tighten our legislative function and with the participation of all stakeholders put forward clear strategies going forward for the identification, conservation and promotion of cultural heritage through the medium of film.

In this regard, we are going beyond the direct and quantifiable impact of the Cultural Industries in general and will focus to a greater extent on their indirect and non-quantifiable contribution to the national economy.

It is here where fine arts’ contribution to the quality of life, cultural identity and pluralism finds expression in our programmes and legislative framework.

In the meeting we had with the industry, we received a number of useful suggestions that may improve the collaboration between Government and the private sector with a singular aim of creating an enabling platform that seeks to ensure that we have a vibrant and thriving industry.

It emerged that we need to bolster our research capacity. Research and the employment of Best Practice models are important cogs for sector development. It is clear also that evidence-based information is critical in defining public and private sector actions needed to improve the economy and it further improves the quality of our interventions.

Through using facts and stats to highlight the economic contribution of this industry, we shall attract more support and contribute to a better appreciation and appraisal of culture and heritage.

With this in mind, we need to do our own appraisal of the dynamics that underpins the sector, for this will provide us with an informative and impartial platform against which public sector interventions can be measured, monitored and improved.

In our meeting with the sector we have already made reference to the prioritization of the Sectoral Information System (SIS) by the NFVF, which is also the focus of the Value Charter an integral document for this Indaba.

We think this focus is long overdue and we should start seeing cohesion in the industry through the provision of critical information.

It is critical that consensus is built in this Indaba as to the areas that seek immediate attention and what will be the process to be followed in gathering this information.

The preservation of our culture and the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods remains our core focus.

We need to develop audiences, foster appreciation for our home grown talent and strengthen enterprises within the sector.

It is critical that we arrest the trend which has seen us as the top thirteen net importer in the world for filmed entertainment as alluded to in the Business Case, these by securing more space for our local filmed products.

President Zuma also spoke about the importance of local content and the need for us to open up a debate on the nature of that content and what contribution it makes to nation-building.

Can we say that at all times we provide a South African audience with enough ideas to give them a more thoughtful and challenging understanding of who we are?
Can we say with truthfulness that we are helping our nation to get a better sense of the complexities of our national identity?
Can we say that we are helping our children and our youth through our art to get a better sense of self-worth, of human dignity and of imagining a country far better than it is today?
Can we argue that our films portray women of this new generation who challenge society’s stereotypes and work towards their own emancipation with the help of our menfolk or do we simply feed existing negative stereotypes and thereby promote sexism and racism?
Or are we simply part of the reproduction of a consumerist culture with a consumerist youth?
Do we merely show reality as it is or do we seek to change it?

These are some of the issues that need to be placed on the top of our agenda.

Let me concede that the NFVF’s second edition of the Value Charter is forward looking and it is incumbent upon us in our engagements to determine what that future should look like.

Let us engage with the picture of the value chain as painted in the value charter and satisfy ourselves that this represents to the best of our knowledge, the areas that forms the core of our industry.

We are focused on ensuring that we move towards the development of enterprises which we view as essential in creating empowerment, ownership, transformation and improves competitiveness in the film industry.

It is my hope that the deliberations for the next two days should also carve a way forward on how to reach out to the rest of the public in rural areas of our country
Together how do you seek to empower these communities with information if they do not have access to the internet and technology ?
How will you assist them with funding applications and what kind of support is organised for them?
How do they become participants to this film industry.

That achievement will translate into a better life for all!

I hope that I leave this gathering with some food for thought. My Ministry and Department wish you success in your deliberations.

We await to hear the results of your discussions but I am confident that your dialogue and discussions will take us to a more prosperous and productive future in which we can say with immense pride that we have arrived at our goal of an Arts for All.

I thank you.