Africa First Competition Winners

12 October, 2009 | By Jeremy Kay

For the second consecutive year five film-makers have been awarded $10,000 apiece in Focus Features’ Africa First Program for short films.

The winning film-makers for 2009 are: Stephen Abbott for the dark comedy Dirty Laundry (South Africa), Matt Bishanga for the drama A Good Catholic Girl(Uganda), Daouda Coulibaly for the drama As Long As Bozos Sing(Mali), Matthew Jankes for the sci-fi story Umkhungo (South Africa), and Rungano Nyoni for the fantasy The Adventures Of Mwansa The Great (Zambia).

The award was set up to nurture emerging film-makers of African nationality and residence and the money will be used for financing projects in pre-production, production, and/or post.

In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning film-makers of Africa First will visit New York later this autumn for a weekend of one-on-one workshops with members of the programme’s international advisory board of experts in African cinema Focus CEO James Schamus and production president John Lyons.

Africa First is supervised by producer Kisha Imani Cameron, whose Completion Films has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus.

Original article

Thanks Dad


Another film by local CPT talent Hein de Vos.

THANKS DAD, set in urban Cape Town, South Africa, is a satirical and darkly comical look at the bizarre and often volatile consequences of everyday life within a uniquely diverse and displaced society. It follows a group of quirky characters, each steering the course of their own journey, yet undeniably connected by the impact of their choices.

Thomas Starke is a renowned architect, married to the success of his career and the indulgence of extra-marital affairs. After his wife left him and their two daughters, and moved to Malawi to become a missionary, Thomas reverted to solving all his children’s problems with the only thing he really understands – money.

But, the recent economic recession has taken its toll on Thomas and when his youngest daughter Ruby asks for the exact same model car as her older sister Dee for her 21st birthday, Thomas realises that he cannot afford the expense. During a squash game, Thomas confesses this to his shady business partner Dimitri, who offers to provide Thomas with an “alternative method” of acquiring the car.

Ruby invites Dee, who suspects she is pregnant with her boyfriend Joe’s child, to an exhibition, she gladly accepts in order to avoid Joe. At the exhibition, Dee meets Ruby’s lecturer, Lebo and her boyfriend Tebogo, who we find at a critical point in their relationship, as well as an old friend, an artist named Melville Du Bois. Dee and Melville spend the rest of the evening on a drug binge, leaving Ruby with her car.
When Ruby catches her musician boyfriend, Puddy with another girl after his gig, she drives off with Dee’s car. Dee, by this time, has passed out at Melville’s apartment.

Thomas’ conscience gets the better of him after an emotional phone call with his separated wife, he calls off the deal. But Dimitri doesn’t get the message.

Meanwhile, Tebogo leaves the exhibition after an argument with Lebo and walks home through the streets of Cape Town. He accidentally bumps into Ruby, who is driving Dee’s car, at a traffic light, with interesting consequences.

Brought to you by the same team that recently completed “Dinner for Three”.

Story by Vicky Davis
Directed by Hein DeVos
Executive-Producer: Mike Joubert
Executive-Producer: Phil Contomichalos
Producer: Sascha Müller
Production Manager: Leighla McGregor
Director of Photography: Manoel Ferreira
Editor: Jolene Cartmill

Featuring music by Taxi Violence.

Join the group - let us know about YOUR film!

5 Fingers - Be Phat Motel


Just a follow up on Be Phat Motels new feature film “Five Fingers for Marseilles” The guys are scouting locations and developing their script in the Free State.

The Eve of Departure
Intrepid movie explorers Sean Drums and Mike T Matthews head off early tomorrow into the wild and desperate Free State. We’ve got our story clenched tightly on one hand and our map book in the other. What is it all about? Where and why are we going into the wilderness? Well, it’s all for Five Fingers for Marseilles…

In Five Fingers for Marseilles, we’re aiming to bring the classic western into a South African context, set in the remote Free State, along the Lesotho border. It’s a story of liberation and redemption, friendship and corruption between 5 friends and allies, that spans two generations of one small community. We’re really excited to get on location and into the meat of storytelling. We have the skeleton of the story and great characters almost all figured out; now we tailor the film around a real small town location, for a few reasons:

1) More than anything, it’s to make the film and story authentic, looking at how life really is out there and what issues affect the communities.

2) For costs reasons, so we won’t need to build a town, or too many sets that don’t already exist. That leaves lots of money for all the CG horses and maybe a couple of winged beasts. Should we be inspired to take the story into winged beast territory.

3) To integrate with the community and bring them on board the film: as crew – training local guys and gals up with production skills, as the people facilitating the production – catering, accommodation and security over our projected shoot, and even as potential film stars – casting locally as much as possible.

4) Discover a part of the country pretty much as familiar to a lot of Capetonians as the surface of the moon.

And so we’re heading towards Marseilles, the small, dusty Marseilles of the Free State. Lots to do before we leave… car fix ups, internet fix ups (please please let this little net devicethang work out there, or this blog series will be the shortest in history) hair cuts, Afrikaans and Sesotho lessons… Matrix-style………….. Send us your well wishes and keep in touch so we don’t get cabin fever or desert fever or yellow fever. “Two went out, one came back” sort of shiznizz.


Keep checking in on our Free State blog here in the Motel Diaries… And if you want a present from the Free State you better leave some real nice comments…


D9 Interviews

Jasyn from On Screen sat down and had an exclusive Q&A; with filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, lead actor Sharlto Copley who play’s “Wikus van der Merwe” and the other cast from District 9.

With all the hype surrounding D-9 we had to find out what went into this unique concept that is already being hailed a “masterpiece” and thus far raking in an estimated $38 million at the U.S Box Office. (opening week)

From Zoopy


district-9.jpg Thirty years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa’s District 9 as the world’s nations argued over what to do with them.

Now, patience over the alien situation has run out. Control over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-National United (MNU), a private company uninterested in the aliens’ welfare - they will receive tremendous profits if they can make the aliens’ awesome weaponry work. So far, they have failed; activation of the weaponry requires alien DNA.

The tension between the aliens and the humans comes to a head when an MNU field operative, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. Wikus quickly becomes the most hunted man in the world, as well as the most valuable - he is the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology. Ostracized and friendless, there is only one place left for him to hide: District 9.

Directed by Neill Blomkamp, Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, Produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. Executive Producers Ken Kamins, Bill Block, Paul Hanson and Elliot Ferwerda. Cast. Sharlto Copley and David James - writing studio

Those of you who have seen District 9, post your thoughts on the film here…

Cape Town Film Studios

ZoopyTV bought us this exclusive tour of the Cape Town Film Studios;

The Cape Town Film Studios is by the far the most ambitious film making initiative to grace African shores. Backed by Anant Singh (VideoVision) and Marcel Golding, the large scale studio complex will be on par with the biggest and best studio complexes on the world. With an escalating budget now reaching the 500 million Rand mark, the project hopes to change the face of the African continent by providing world class film making facilities that will allow for big-budget productions to take place throughout the year.

Zoopy met with the CEO for the Cape Town Film Studios, Mr Nico Dekker for an exclusive tour of the site. According to Mr. Dekker the first phase of the studios will be complete by March 2010.

Cape Town Film Studios

Changing Landscape Videos

The Public Pool cut the footage of our first Forum, The Changing Landscape, and I posted them to Vimeo today, for your watching pleasure;

1. The Forum - Introduction/

Louw Venter our panel moderator takes us through the forum introduction:

2. The Forum - Landscape/

Zaheer Goodman Bhayat, producer and panelist on the forum had a lot to say about our current industry:

3. The Forum - Local is lekker/

Pam from Zoopy, made a comment regarding cinema in SA and that “Local is Lekker”. Simon Hansen whom I quote often in my blog, had something to say about that statement:

4. The Forum - Writing/

Getting into the nitty-gritty of where it starts, and our inspiration for the next Forum, Zaheer talked about writing. The idea that writers have this space where they can “just write what I love” does not exists. If you really want to do that either starve, live with your parents or get better and have people pay you.

5. The Forum - Paradigm/

Lastly Simon talks about shifting our paradigms. Having an idea of something is fine but if your idea isn’t the same as reality its not reality that’s wrong. If you want to live in your ideas then change your reality paradigm and come up with something unique and with value.

The Lambda Child Trailer

Be Phat Motel Productions is an up and coming collaboration between a number of South Africa’s hottest young industry professionals. Be Phat are making waves through consistent high-end work and an ability to think outside of the box, squeezing the maximum potential out of every project and never sacrificing production value. “Quality over quantity” and a desire to push the boundaries of the film industry, conceptually, visually and narratively are the driving forces behind Be Phat Motel.

Sean Drummond - Writer/Producer
Michael Matthews - Director
Shaun Lee - Cinematographer
Daniel Mitchell - Editor

Look out for the talented bephatmotel group, they truly have what it takes to make great films.
The Lambda Child is a project the guys have been working on for a few years now, actor Garret Dillahunt signed on to The Lambda Child, as the bad guy, Edward. You might have seen him in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” starring alongside Brad Pitt, or in the oscar winning “No Country for Old Men” last year.

Lambda is bephatmotel’s long term project, In the meantime they are moving forward with “5 Fingers for Marseilles”, a smaller film with a very original concept and treatment.
“5 Fingers For Marseilles is the one we’re really pushing forward at the moment. There’s an interesting development and production model/plan for it. We want to go into production on it march/april next year” - Michael Matthews

We hear the guys will be shooting on red, we will definitely have to get them in for a Q&A; some time and post it to the forum.
Here’s some poster art work for the meantime…


D9 @ Comic Con


This week saw the Comic-con take place in San Diago and saw a host of movies being screened, promoted and talked about there. To name a few: Iron Man2, 9, Avatar, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Where the Wild Things Are, Zombieland and Sherlock Holmes. For a more comprehensive list go here and cry a little.

Anyways, I’ve done my crying a little and decided to try and find out more. I am really interested in D9 (as you may already know) and knew that Sharlto was going to be on a panel discuss with Peter and Neill all about D9. The bastardo’s had a full on screening of the movie - aargh - adn this panel was done right after the film. I have here for your enjoyment all four parts, download them from youtube at work and watch them at home later. That way you don’t use your bandwidth, your not skimping on your work and you have them to share them with your friends later…





Then, just for fun, here’s a little vlog from Slashfilm doing a review of the movie and some hints of what to expect on Assassins Creed. Go Here

From Readwrite

The forum event

louw1.jpg Ladies and gentlemen we’re proud to announce that The Forum is finally off the ground - and the view looks great from up here.

After a relatively short but incredibly busy period of planning and organizing we opened the doors to the first official live version of the Forum at Red Light Studios in Maitland on Thursday last week. Our audience consisted of role players from various sectors in the industry from producers and feature directors to scriptwriters and media representitives from the likes of Zoopy and the South African Movie Data Base.

We didn’t know quite what to expect from the night but I’m very happy to report that the energy on the night was quite electric and we now have a very powerful impetus to go forward. It was exhilirating to see the enthusiasm among filmmakers to connect with each other and discuss the issues of making film in South Africa. In fact, far from being at a loss for subject matter to chew over I had to call the discussion part of the night to reluctant halt over a veritable sea of eagerly raised hands. SA filmmakers certainly have a lot to say and ask. Among the topics that emerged on the night were the ideas of writing and creating film as a sustainable means of income, the interrogation of the “local is lekker” catchphrase, the identity of SA film and the need for shifting our understanding of how films are, can and should be made.

What we need now more than anything is a mandate from you for the next installment of The Forum. The way forward for the next gathering of The Forum must be guided by what we as filmmakers need to explore and discuss most urgently. Please send us your ideas and suggestions for the next Forum which will take place late September.

If you were there on Thursday night you will know that The Forum is serious about the future of film in SA and it belongs to everyone who loves the movies. Talk to us, we need your imput and we look forward to building something amazing together.

Selected clips from The Changing Landscape will be available on this site very soon as well as a published list of all the business cards collected on the night.
If you’ve been logging in to, please note that the proper adress for The Forum will be from now on.

Look forward to your comments and feedback - Louw Venter

The Changing Landscape - Live Feed

The Forum event will be broadcast live on 23rd July 09 at 20h00 - Watch the feed here or The Forum Live Feed on

Watch live video from theforumza on

Ted’s 38 Reasons

Producer Ted Hope came up with 38 reasons he feels the Indie-Film “scene” is under stress. The points he raises are very good and not wanting to become pessimsitic (it’s too early in my career) I think there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, coming from a realistic, positivist generation feel that we should listen to those offering advice and keep these things in mind when making our own films.

There are certainly problems we face as film makers today. Besides the over abundance and accessibility ANYONE has to call themselves film makers (I wonder if it was like this in the 80’s with stockbrokers?) there are also no working business models that satisfy “The Money” to invest in our new distribution methods. But, democracy takes time and living in a country with a fledgling democracy I can tell you that it’s more-difficult than it is easy, if you catch my drift. All we have to go on is the passion we had to start off and a sh*t-hot script. The stories we tell are indubitably part of historical record and mark social spaces in our history. Society will never be able to forget the films we have made because they are part of an era and an age. They are more true to history than textbooks if you believe in the anecdote that history is written by the conqueror. That makes what we do more than entertainment even though that is what we pitch in the present. Hoeraa! and all the other psych terms you use to get up in the morning to get behind (or in front) of that camera!

Here’s Ted:

*Distrib’s abandonment (and lack of development) of community-building marketing approaches for specialized releases (which reduces appeal for a group activity i.e. the theatrical experience).
*Distrib’s failure to embrace limited streaming of features for audience building.
*Reliance on large marketing spend release model restricts content to broad subjects (which decreases films’ distinction in marketplace) and reduces ability to focus on pre-aggregated niche audiences.
*Lack of media literacy/education programs that help audience to recognize they need to begin to chose what they see vs. just impulse buy.
*Threat of piracy makes library value of titles unstable, which in turn limits investment in content companies and reduces acquisition prices, which in turn reduces budgets, which in turn limits the options for content — so everybody loses.
*No new business model for internet exploitation at a level that can justify reasonable film budgets.
*Emphasis on single pictures for filmmakers vs. ongoing conversation with fans has lead to a neglect of content that helps audiences bridge gaps between films and that would prevent each new film to be a reinvention of the wheel for audience building.
*Lack of marketing/distribution knowledge by filmmakers limits DIY success.
*Filmmakers still believe that festivals are first and foremost markets and not media launches.
*The ego-driven approach to filmmaking vs. one of true collaboration generally yields lower quality of films and greater dissatisfaction amongst all participants.

To read all 38 reasons go here please…


$70 + 18mnths + Internet = Colin

Our hero Colin is bitten by a Zombie; he dies and returns from the dead. We follow him as he wanders through suburbia during the throes of a cadaverous apocalypse.

If you dont know yet, then here’s your chance. If you have heard about it believe it, becuase it’s true. I always love these “break through” narratives. Everytime we all agree that in order to make a movie you need money and blah blah you end up reading about some film maker with nothing to loose (literally) and a couple of friends making an obscure but original film. The film maker generally walks away from some prominent festival (this time it’s Cannes) as a hero! “….And we all cheered when the titles came up!!…..”

Colin was made with $70, that’s the official press number, and according to the director the film has about 100 people in all of whom worked for free. They (the extras)also got to bring their own weapons to “work”.

What thrilled me is the use of social networks director Marc Price put into action and how amazingly they helped him make a film. From getting make-up for free (the same make-up that was used in Wolverine) to extras and wardrobe.

Le-Super Cool.

Although I havnt seen anything on the film the story of making the film stays inspiring and keeps my mouth shut every time I want to mutter the word “impossible”. At the end of the day nothing is “impossible” we only make it so.

The cast was made up of Price’s friends and young actors who agreed to do the film for free. Makeup artists were “hired” via postings on the Internet, to which they replied quickly, hearing they would be given the permission to use the images for their portfolio in exchange of a salary. All “actors” were free to bring their own weapons on the set, the most expensive of which was, according to the 30-year-old director, a crowbar. In between takes, the entire crew would get treats such as “Tesco Value tea and coffee.”

“The main actor, Alastair Kirton, is a friend of mine. We’d made a short together before and then we worked on Colin. I then got friends to come along and play both zombies and humans. A lot of them doubled up and end up getting killed as both zombies and humans. We ended up with over 100 people in the film.” Price says for the Mail. Once production was over (after 18 months of shooting with a camcorder in Swansea and London), sales agent Helen Grace from Left Films approached Price and suggested he should send the film to Cannes.

“Colin” opened the other day at the film festival, and critics are already warmly singing its praise. As a matter of fact, the film fared so well that two Japanese distributors have already started a bid for distribution rights, a perspective that pleases Price to the extreme. Should everything go well, then perhaps the director’s next project would be much more expensive, somewhere in the range of a hundred pounds, as he jokes for the British publication.

“We seem to have sorted something out for Japan, which means we’ll get to do a Japanese dubbed version. I’d love to have a UK or US distribution deal. I just want people to see it. It’s not really about money. We didn’t set out to try and make our fortune with our first film. I don’t think that really happens too often. We just wanted to make a film that we hoped people would want to see, and we hope it will get into a position where we can make another film with more of a budget.” Price explains.

Excerpt from Softpedia


J.J. Abrams: Filmmaker

TED” has an interesting and revealing seminar about J.J. Abrams;

As the Emmy-winning creator of the smart, addictive TV dramas Lost, Alias and Felicity, J.J. Abrams’ name looms large on the small screen. As the writer/director behind the blockbuster explode-a-thon Mission: Impossible III, Cloverfield and the new Star Trek movie, these days Abrams also rules the big screen - bringing his eye for telling detail and emotional connection to larger-than-life stories.

Abrams’ enthusiasm - for the construction of Kleenex boxes, for the quiet moments between shark attacks in Jaws, for today’s filmmaking technologies, and above all for the potent mystery of an unopened package - is incredibly infectious.
“As a boy, JJ Abrams was fascinated with magic. As a television writer, director, and producer, he has beguiled audiences with a masterful use of suspense, plot reversals, and special effects.”