By Olu Alemoru, Staff Writer
Last weekend Angelenos got to enjoy the vibrant culture of one Africa’s leading nations with a three-day music and film festival that no doubt delighted downtown culture vultures.
The inaugural South African Arts Festival came at a time when the country’s political icons, Nelson and Winnie Mandela are being brought to life by Hollywood stars like Jennifer Hudson (“Winnie Mandela”) and Oscar-tipped Idris Elba, who plays Nelson Mandela in next year’s “Long Walk to Freedom.”
Prior notable South African productions include “Invictus,” (Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela) and the wildly inventive “District 9.”
Therefore, it was perhaps fitting that all this week a delegation of top film and television officials have been visiting L.A. and The Independent was invited along to a Monday briefing held at the South African Consulate, located in Miracle Mile. The party included Ms. Mmabatho Ramagoshi, Chair of the National Film and Video Foundation, Mr. Welcome Msomi, Chair of the KwaZulu-Natal (one of South Africa’s nine provinces) Film Commission and Ms. Carol Coetzee, the commission’s CEO.
What is the difference between the KZN Film Commission and the NFVF?
Ramagoshi: The NFVF is a national entity as part of the department of arts and culture that represents all of the nine provinces. Its mandate is to build the capacity for filmmakers out in the country and ensure we have a vibrant industry.
Msomi: Our focus is developing film and television in our province. The film and tourism department funds the commission and we seek to inspire young people to enter the industry.
What is the main purpose of your visit?
Ramagoshi: We want to show that all of our provinces have a lot to offer. We have places like the Kruger National Park, and then you can venture to Karoo, a semi-desert natural region of the country. South Africa is a great location to shoot any type of production. As part of building that film industry, the government has offered [financial] incentives; a producer must partner with a South African producer and spend at least four weeks in the country to qualify for those incentives.
Coetzee: We’ve been excited to share something new. The commission was promulgated last year and I was only pointed a week ago. We want to get companies to invest in our infrastructure; there is a very strong developmental agenda. That is a key mandate because the industry can have a huge impact on job creation.
Msomi: The reason why we’re here is to identify people that are important and can be supportive. L.A. is especially important because it dominates the world market. You have people here that have achieved what a lot of people would like to achieve, so we would like to come over as role models for our young people.
Who specifically have you met and how successful has the trip been?
Coetzee: It’s been incredibly successful and we’ve certainly met the right people. One of our long-term goals is to set up an Academy; listening to young people here we know that that will inspire our industry.
Msomi: We met people at Sony, the Academy of Motion Pictures and the L.A. Film School. We have identified a number of role players and our meetings were very good. We would like to come back for a round table and then have a summit in South Africa.
From left, Cyril S. Ndaba, South African Consul-General, Carol Coetzee, Mmabatho Ramagoshi, Welcome Msomi and L.A.-based filmmaker Joe Brown, who liaised with the commissioners on their visit. Olu Alemoru/The Independent