Monday February 4th witnessed the Department of Arts and Culture and stakeholders in the Film Industry come together at the SkyRink Studios in Johannesburg for The South African Film Summit. The Summit began with the central theme of Transformation and Innovation in the South African film industry. Specifically, “The 4th Industrial Revolution and Implications for Transformation and innovation in the South African Creative Economy: Key focus on Audio-visual Industries.”
The Film and Television industries are built based on their ability to tell their story. Now with the 4th industrial revolution looming on our horizon, the government and the industry saw it fit to interrogate the ability of our industry to grow during the revolution. While having these conversations, the summit could not avoid engaging in similar relevant issues like storytelling and conditions in the industry.
Various speakers took to the podium to address the value of telling our own South African stories. During their speeches, they went on to express their frustrations with the transformation process. The most frustrated voices came from the young people and women. Like most institutions in post-apartheid South Africa, the systems created during the apartheid era are still present. Unfortunately, unlike most institutions the film industry does not have organisations and structures in play to protect those who are taken advantage of.
Going into the summit, government and the industry provided time to allow delegates to gather and discuss specific issues that they face in the industry. After lunch delegates broke away to various commissions. Each commission had a specific mandate for them to focus on. The aim of the commissions was to motivate conversations and inspire solutions. The conversations and recommendations from the commissions will be inform the transformational process of the industry.
The summit did not only focus on the various problems faced by people in the industry but he also inspired hope. The Minister of the Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa engaged with delegates and considered the value of keeping the government and stakeholders accountable to the process of transformation. He emphasized on the importance of creating content that tells the South African story. The government has recognized the Film Industry as a national interest. This is due to its ability to create jobs and the positive impact it has on the economy.
The conversations continue Tuesday February 5th. The transformational process in the film industry is important to the development of young black people. Why young black people? Historically this industry was not too welcoming of young black filmmakers or those who had interest to pursue a career in it. Upholding its existing standards, the young people, women and black filmmakers will continue getting exploited. The growth of the industry and the development of the industry should include the previously excluded.