Cinema The South in film

The South in film

South American filmmakers Alvaro Brechner and Pablo Cesar shared the experience they had with bolstering their continent’s flagging independent cinema industry, hoping that it can benefit the South African film industry.

At a Think!Fest talk, A Meeting between South American Filmmakers and South Africa, Brechner says Uruguay’s film industry only started to take off about 15 years ago, as previously they didn’t have the skills or the resources.

With Brechner’s participation in the industry, the Uruguay Film Institute was opened, and now produces five to six films, as well as documentaries, in a year.

South Africa’s own film industry finds itself in a similar situation to Uruguay 15 years ago, with a comparable lack of institutional support for film. Independent and local filmmakers are scarce, and those who are working are filling our screens with American pop-culture instead of local tropes.

“Everything about an art tells something about that person, place, country or origin,” Brechner says. “Cinema is very transnational. It talks about human beings and says a lot of the circumstances in which the film was made.”

Cesar, an Argentinian filmmaker best known for The Sacred Family, has a unique collaboration with African cinema, specialising in co-producing with nations from the African continent. It’s a connection that local independent filmmakers can learn from.

“We think money is in the North,” Cesar says. “But money exists in private and public spaces in the South. The money is there, it’s about how we convince these private and public entities to participate.”

By meeting with the Minister of Culture of Angola in 2013 and convincing him that a link between the two cultures was important, Angola invested $400,000 into the production The Gods of Water. His experience in this collaboration has also led him to write a book titled South Co-operation in Cinema, due to be published at the end of this year.

In 2002, laws were enacted in Argentina to ensure the national film institute received the tax revenue from movie and theatre tickets, DVDs and television, allowing opportunities for official co-productions.

“Movies create spaces for work,” Cesar says. “It’s art but it’s also industry.” He explores the links between continents, “because we’re different, but we’re also very much the same”.

Presently, the Argentinian government is waiting for the signature on an agreement between The National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) in Argentina and The National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) in South Africa.

The similarities in the social and economic landscapes of the geographical South gives hope that the South African independent film industry could benefit from the experiences of filmmakers such as Brechner and Cesar.

 Jesamé Geldenhuys

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