Speech delivered by Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, on the occasion of the official handover of the Mmabana Film Studio in Mahikeng, North West

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15 Sep 2015

These words spoken by a prolific Nigerian woman author, Buchi Emecheta, aptly resonate with what brought us here today.

We are here to officially handover the state of the art Mmabana Film Studio which will create a platform for members of the community to tell their own stories through film making.

This handing over ceremony happens at a time when South Africans from all walks of life, young and old celebrate Heritage Month under the theme: “Our Indigenous knowledge, Our heritage: Towards the identification, promotion and preservation of South Africa’s living heritage.”

Be A Top Crew (BATC) is an empowerment project initiated by Top Crew Home Brew Movies (TCHBM), in partnership with the National Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) to provide integrated development strategies that ensure a linkage between economic development and skills development in the area of film production. The first film studio funded by DAC was launched in Diepsloot, Johannesburg in 2014.

The Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy strategic investment approach seeks to reposition the arts, culture and heritage sector as the key players in government’s programme of action towards creation of sustainable jobs, audience and skills development, social and economic development of the sector. An amount of R850 000 was spent towards the development of the Mmabana Film Studio.

The Mmabana Film Studio will amongst others seek to identify new talent, facilitation of necessary training, provide experience through “At-Work” training, workshops, mentoring, as well the profiling of aspiring film makers and actors thus exposing them to the real world of film making. This allows members of the community to better use the studios to continue to tell their own stories.

These training will empower young people to tell our own South African stories through filmmaking. The stories of South Africa are many and diverse, and collectively they tell the story of our entire nation. They also teach us lessons about the past to better arm us for the future.

Film is one of the most powerful artistic media in the world; it can reach across time, language, culture and geographic location to tell compelling stories, document events and spark debate. For many, film and TV defines a generation, and our role in the Department of Arts and Culture is to enable the telling of the stories that will record our journey.

We do this in a variety of ways; firstly through the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) which provides grants and bursaries for film development, amongst other support mechanisms. We work closely with the Department of Trade and Industry on the administration on the large scale commercial incentives such as the Film Rebate.

The Department of Arts and Culture’s most important role however, along with the NFVF is to support the development of artists and local content. What this means is that we focus on the people and processes that create films.

Through this partnership with Top Crew Home Brew Movies (TCHBM) we will support the training and development of young film makers. This will ensure that we continue to support the transformation of the arts, culture and heritage, because it is only through creating more access to people, particularly young people, and ensuring that these talented artists have the necessary skills to become professional film makers that we can change the status quo.

This film making training programme will produce socially conscious material that speaks to the realities of our society and also speaks to local languages, but most of all, develops and nurtures new generations of film makers who will continue to tell our story at home and abroad.

Our community members will get an opportunity to watch the locally produced movies without having to travel to big cities where there are cinemas since the DVD’s will be distributed and sold locally.

In order to address the problem of piracy and other challenges affecting the growth of the film industry, I am told that Top Crew has introduced a mass DVD distribution concept called “Woza Month End” which is an informal distribution system licencing unemployed youth as entrepreneurs. The youth entrepreneurs will distribute the DVD’s together with the Hola magazine which primarily information about government programs.

I have no doubt that the community of Mahikeng here in Bokone Bophirima, working together with the Mmabana Cultural Foundation and Top Crew Home Brew Movies, will look after this state of the art film studio as we continue to tell our own stories.

I am looking forward to see best film stars and movies that would be brewed out of this project. I am certain that high quality local movies that will be produced here will surpass many movies at national and international stages.

I thank you.