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2020 Durban FilmMart in Brave New Cinema


Chioma Ude

Arrangements for the 2020 Durban FilmMart Institute (DMI) has reached conclusive stages. Already, the organisers have said that following COVID-19 pandemic and the need to observe the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) codes such as, avoiding crowded places and socially distancing, the 11th edition will be held virtual.

In a programme released by the organisers, the festival will hold from September 4 to 13. It looks at current filmmaking development, distribution and marketing trends, with a Pan-African focus, and how the future of cinema will navigate new landscapes including the digital world.

“Going online has enabled us to extend our reach and include more filmmakers than ever before,” said Mandisa Zitha, chairperson of the Durban FilmMart Institute Board. “The disruption of our world by the COVID-19 virus has led to innovation, as well as demonstrated the ever-increasing need for the creation of content. The DFM virtual space now offers filmmakers extensive opportunities to network, make connections with other filmmakers and industry professionals with whom they can collaborate, or build relationships and get down to the business of film. This we believe will provide a positive stimulus for the industry’s economy on the continent.”


The industry programme includes a series of webinars, discussion forums and hangouts. And in an effort to connect African film professionals across the post-colonial divides and create new synergies and networks, this edition will include French and Portuguese, two languages largely spoken in the continent.

“Using the theme, Brave New Cinema, we are bringing together leading and emerging African film professionals in an online space, to benchmark themselves, learn from peers, pitch their ideas and projects and network, and collectively demonstrate our courage to tell our own stories,” said Toni Monty, Head of the DFM.

The festival will focus on African filmmakers, who contribute “cinema images that celebrate, and canonise our struggles and our beauty,” Monty added. “These are African filmmakers whose stories challenge oppressive structures, engage with dominant value systems, and reflect our daily experiences. The creation of film is an act of courage because of the ever-increasing challenges in both funding and media freedom in many parts of the continent. This will be a gathering of filmmakers in a celebration of collective African resilience, collective victories and a call for the stories of the future.”

Nigeria’s Chioma Ude (African International Film Festival, AFRIFF) and Akin Omotoso (Vaya, Ghost in the House of Truth) will headline DFM Conversations. Speakers also include, amongst others, Roger-Ross Williams (God Loves Uganda, Travelling While Black, Life Animated) from the USA, Kagiso Lediga (Queen Sono) from South Africa and Kenya’s Wanuri Kahui (Rafiki).

The platform is a space in which delegates can participate in in-depth conversations with industry leaders around topics such as screenwriting, audience development, representation in filmmaking and pioneering an African aesthetic.

In a Special Focus, African Content in the New Normal, speakers will discuss the challenges that national lockdowns present and the unique opportunities that these circumstances have offered filmmakers. Topics include Co-production in the New Normal; Homegrown Online platforms for pan-African content; Risk Under and After Covid — Future Prospects for the Service Industry.

The Pitch Forum from September 4 to 7 offers financiers, funders, investors, and programmers a chance to fully explore the 70 African projects in development that will be presented.

These include, the selected projects from submissions, projects from the Talents Durban programme in partnership with Berlinale Talents, as well as start-up projects from the Jumpstart incubator programme, in partnership with Produire au Sud, in Durban sister city Nantes, France. Jumpstart will introduce six emerging directors from Durban and Kwazulu-Natal region to project packaging for the international market.


The DFM’s unique online approach has birthed an exciting new addition to the Market: The DFM Content Shop. Distributors, sale agents and programmers will have, at their disposal, a catalogue of 90 African projects (fiction, documentary film of all lengths as well as series) that are ready for sale and distribution. These films have been curated to reflect the unique African storytelling and high-quality content that will be discussed throughout the industry programme.

Following from last year’s inaugural Durban Does Docs sessions, delegates will be able to meet and engage with documentary film directors in a series of talks that centre on the art of the creative documentary film. Filmmakers sharing their process include, Sam Soko (Softie) from Kenya, South Africa’s Dylan Valley (Azibuye, a VR documentary film), Teboho Edkins (Days of Cannibalism) from Germany/SA/Lesotho, Nicole Schafer, Buddha in Africa; (South Africa) and Petra Costa (Edge of Democracy (Brazil), amongst others.

Filmmaker Talks invites directors, writers and animators to discuss the stories they are telling in their works of art – ranging across feature, documentary, animation, and short film creation. Speakers include Mounia Aram (France/Morocco), Clare Tracy Louis (SA), Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (This is Not A Burial, It’s Resurrection) (Lesotho) and Rehad Desai (Everything Must Fall) (SA).


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