In light of recent reports about the “crisis” at the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), it is important to give context to the work that it does. The NFVF embarked on a transformation programme in 2014 and the effect of this is beginning to be felt.
The aim was to create access into the industry for massive numbers of new entrants.
This decision led to a three-tier system:
- Tier 1 – experienced film-makers who have produced more than five products;
- Tier 2 – film-makers with limited experience, but who have produced more than two products; and
- Tier 3 – new entrants, the bulk of whom are drawn from previously disadvantaged sections of our society.
The rationale behind moving more funding to tiers 2 and 3 was to support film-makers’ development and ensure their access to the industry. The limited allocation for tier 1 was because these are experienced film-makers and they have been recipients of NFVF funding before.
A deliberate attempt was also made to reach out to other provinces, beyond Gauteng and the Western Cape, to ensure a fair geographic representation.
This strategic approach was also implemented with regard to the allocation of bursaries and marketing funding for festivals, with a view to addressing historical imbalances in the infrastructure and distribution of skills and resources.
More funds have also been allocated to film students studying at public institutions.
In addition, the NFVF sends delegations to international markets and, in recent years, these have largely consisted of historically disadvantaged individuals.
As stated, the effects of this decision are beginning to be felt, which is why some industry players are up in arms, mounting frantic efforts to discredit the good work of the NFVF.
Allowing more new entrants will enrich the substance of the narratives that our film productions seek to capture and articulate.
Our goals are as follows: to increase the number of people trained in the industry; to increase the number of local films produced; and to promote the South African film industry locally and internationally.
We cannot promote our films internationally while sitting in our offices in Johannesburg.
Many South African films, such as Happiness Is a Four-Letter Word, have been screened internationally because of our continuous involvement in strategic markets such as Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival.
International travel by council members is in line with our statutory mandate to “promote and develop the film and video industry” in South Africa and globally.
The NFVF presented its annual report to the parliamentary portfolio committee on arts and culture this week. It showed that the foundation had achieved an unqualified opinion for the 2016/17 financial year.
There are, however, challenges in view of a number of serious allegations levelled against management and some council members.
To this end, the council has established a special task team to deal with internal staff grievances, while Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has instituted a forensic investigation into the matter.
* Phile Molefe is Chairperson of the National Film And Video Foundation.