Speech by Minister Paul Mashatile on occasion of the handing over of a Film Studio to the community of Diepsloot

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26 Mar 2014

Programme Director

The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Parks Tau

MMC Chris Vondo

Councillors here present

Representatives from our partners; Top Crew Home Brew Movies

Our artists

Honoured Guests

The community of Diepsloot:

Thank you for coming to bear witness to this official hand over of a state of the art film studio to the community of Diepsloot.

Allow me at this stage to remind you that in June 2011, my Department organised an Imbizo for young people in the arts here in Diepsloot and surrounding communities.

On that occasion we listened to many young people who were yearning for opportunities to use their abundant artistic talents to build for themselves sustainable livelihoods.

They asked their government to help them with performance spaces and with opportunities to develop their skills so that they can be the best at what they do.

They asked us to help them by providing facilities that they can use to showcase their talents and to tell their stories through various art forms.

As government we committed that we will work with the youth of Diepsloot, and indeed the youth of our country, to continue creating opportunities for them to participate in the arts and benefit from it.

Today, we are happy to be here in Diepsloot, this time to bring delivery on some of the commitments we made to the youth of this area.

As you saw earlier we cut the ribbon symbolising the official handing over of this community based and run film studio to the artists of this area.

By delivering this studio, we are saying to the community of Diepsloot and many other communities throughout the country; do not despair.

We are giving you hope that; gradually, step by step, as this government we are delivering on all our commitments.

We take this opportunity to thank our partners from Top Crew Home Brew Movies and the City of Johannesburg for working well with us as we delivered this project.

We also thank the community of Diepsloot for fully embracing the project.

To the community we say; this is your project. Protect it and use it to your benefit.

Let it be your asset. Let it be the pride of your community!

Programme Director, allow me to quote what was said by two of the young people who are beneficiaries of this project.

Writing about her experience in this project, Marcia Mankhense says:

“I want to be an actress because it’s been my dream from childhood. I’ve always wanted to see myself on TV. Thank you to the Department of Arts and Culture and Top Crew for giving us a chance and for believing in us.”   

Another young person Shandukane Mashatana writes:

“My dream is to become the best actor and comedian that South Africa has come across. Thanks to Top Crew I was granted the opportunity to try my best to fulfil my dream.”                 

I am quoting the words of these young people to demonstrate the very real impact this project is having on the lives of aspiring artists.

Indeed, through this ground breaking project, we are opening doors of opportunity for our artists.

Specifically, we are providing them with access to resources and skills to create their own movies and tell their own stories in the languages of their choice.

We are providing them with an opportunity to narrate their individual and community experiences from their own perspectives through the medium of film.

We are partnering these young people with an established film production company that boasts no less than seventeen movie titles currently being shown on our television screens.  

We are doing all of these things to give these young people a head-start in the lucrative film industry; an industry worth five billion rands per annum.

We are providing a platform for them to reach for their dreams.

We are making it possible and worth-while for them to pursue careers in the arts, in particular in film, and to build for themselves sustainable livelihoods.

We are encouraged that already seventy young people have received training and will continue to make movies as part of this programme.

We are also delighted to announce that this programme will be rolled out to two other provinces; Mpumalanga and the North West.

The programme is in line with our Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, through which we are unleashing the potential of the arts to contribute not only to social cohesion and nation building, but also to economic growth, skills development and job creation.

In order to ensure that we continue to support these young people and many others in the film industry, we will strengthen efforts to have more local films shown on our television and cinema screens.

We will also continue to create opportunities for local films to be show-cased in major world stages such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Durban International Film Festival and many other high-profile film exhibitions.

Indeed there is nothing stopping us from taking films made here in Diepsloot, at this studio, to Cannes!

This we say because South African talent, including talent from here in Diepsloot, can match the best in the world.

This we have seen from the growing number of South African artists who continue to receive international acclaim.

Equally the world is hungry to hear our stories; stories of a nation that has overcome adversity; stories of a resilient people; stories of reconciliation; and stories of how together we are building this nation on the foundation laid by giants such as the founding father of our nation, Tata Nelson Mandela.     

We will also work with our film makers to develop and increase audiences for local film productions.

Our audience development initiatives include efforts to bring back the old culture of “bioscops” in our communities.

In this regard we will, as we have done here in Diepsloot, strengthen investment in the provision of more film production and exhibition infrastructure, especially in previously disadvantaged areas.

We will also continue to invest in the development of the skills required by the film industry.

This we will do through our National Film and Video Foundation, which we will soon convert into a fully-fledged Film Commission.

On a much larger scale our skills development initiatives will be undertaken through the planned National Skills Academy for the Creative and Cultural Industries.

The Academy will become a centre of excellence, providing opportunities for our artists, including film makers, to be the best they can be and to be the best in the world.

I thank all those who have made this project possible.

This is a worthy investment in our young people. It is also a worthy investment in the future of the arts in our country.

More importantly this is a vote of confidence in the talented youth of Diepsloot.

We look forward to seeing more quality film productions coming out of this studio on our television and cinema screens.

Thank you.