News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Encounters funding crisis bad for young film makers

Sandiso Phaliso

Young film makers hoping to have their work showcased at the prestigous Encounters Documentary Film Festival have voiced disappointment at the SABC’s decision to withdraw funding, describing it as “disappointing” and a “major loss”.

Encounters documentary festival director Mandisa Zitha announced last week this week that the SABC, the principal funder of the event, would be withdrawing their funding. She said for the last 10 years the SABC had been sponsoring the event.

Zitha said the SABC had earlier given an indication that they would cut funds by 60%. The withdrawal of all funds a month before the festival was scheduled to take place was therefore a “big blow”, she said. Zitha said the reason had been the SABC’s “new austerity measures”.

Organisers were now faced with the “task” of raising sufficient funds at short notice to enable the festival to take pace.

The festival, now in its 11th year, showcases South African and international talent, promoting the growth of the documentary industry. Over the years it has screened hundreds of documentaries.

The dates of the 2009 edition were scheduled from 2 to 19 July.

Rihan Hendricks, 25, a Cape Town based aspiring filmmaker, said the threat of a “no show” because of lack of funds would have a negative impact on filmmakers.

Hendricks hoped that the category where he had submitted his film would run as planned. He has submitted a 27 minute production called ‘Dreams Diminished’ about a young man growing up on a farm whose dreams to become an artist are dashed.

Hendricks said he felt “disappointed and surprised” when he got an e-mail informing him of the possible no show.
“The festival brings a lot of exposure to aspiring filmmakers and withdrawing is a major loss. The festival is important to us filmmakers because it is where we get exposure for our work.”

Another filmmaker, Ladien Cloete, 22, who has also submitted work for screening, said should the festival not continue as planned, “all my hard work will be ruined and money spent making the film lost down the drain”.

The Afrikaans film she has submitted is about the interaction between culture and music.

A disappointed Cloete said she hoped that the festival organizers would be able to organize the festival and screen her film.

Zitha said: “We hope that we can still receive sufficient support to ensure a successful festival this year. We believe, if we can get through this current crisis we will be able to produce an even stronger 2010 edition,” Zitha said.

Zitha said a decision had already been taken not to run the Johannesburg leg, but there were still hopes to run the Cape Town and Durban editions. This was because the Gauteng Film Commission had also withdrew its financial support.

Gauteng Film Commission senior marketing manager Jacques Sitoltz confirmed that they had decided not to fund the festival this year because of “financial constraints within the Gauteng provincial government.

SABC communications officer Rennee Williams confirmed that funding had been withdrawn, but further questions sent by email were not responded to. — West Cape News

Tags: documentaries, encounters

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