South Africa’s presence at Cannes this year is being touted as the biggest yet, with 150 local filmmakers having registered to attend the 66th edition that opened on Thursday.
Last year’s representation involved 130 South African filmmakers, and productions showcased under the banner of the National Film and Video Foundation included a film about black surfers in Durban titled Otelo Burning, as well as a documentary about the life of Pan Africanist Congress founder Robert Sobukwe.
This year’s “official” selection includes foundation-hosted screenings of three South African films, the comedy Blitz Patrollie, starring David Kau and Joey Rasdien, directed by Andrew Wessels; director Carey McKenzie’s crime thriller Black South Easter, starring Tony Kgoroge and Fana Mokoena; and Anthony Silverston’s wildlife animation Khumba, with voices dubbed by a stellar cast that includes Liam Neeson, Steve Buscemi, Laurence Fishburne and Richard E Grant.
Last year, South Africa continued to build links to outside industries when Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile signed the country’s eighth film co-production treaty with Ireland.
At Cannes this year, South Africa, led by foundation chief executive Zama Mkosi, will sign a memorandum of understanding with Kenya, which will create opportunities for local filmmakers to explore working partnerships with their counterparts in that country.
The foundation will also host presentations of the South African film industry, and a promotion and networking opportunity for French producers and directors working in South Africa.
This year, the foundation has invested R250 000 to pay for the travelling costs of 12 local filmmakers out of the 150 attending.
According to the foundation, South Africa’s theme for Cannes this year is “attracting new markets and investments”. This will include an effort to further market the country as a suitable shooting destination for international filmmakers.