Highly Successful CTIFMF 2018 Builds Bridges and Growth Through Collaboration

25 October 2018

For 11 days, from October 9th – 19th, the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival (CTIFMF), ensured the focus of the media, the public, and key industry stakeholders on the importance of films and filmmaking within the socio-economic ecosystem. The gathering of industry professionals and film-lovers was unprecedented in terms of the profile and numbers of those in attendance.

The 11 days of film screenings commenced with Opening Night, one of the most high-profile events the city has seen in years with over 1,300 guests descending on the massive red carpet that draped the Artscape Theatre’s piazza. South Africa’s submission for the Oscars, and the film that went on to win Best South African Feature at the festival, “Sew the Winter to My Skin” was screened for the guests in attendance.

Throughout the remaining 10 days, Nu Metro and Ster Kinekor Cinema Nouveau at the V&A Waterfront saw a host of red carpet premieres and multiple sold out shows for some of the 160+ films from South Africa, the rest of the continent, and further afield. International juries, filmmakers, members of the media, and thousands of Capetonians, including over 500 students who were brought in from across the Cape Flats, were able to enjoy the eclectic selection of Festival Director Leon van der Merwe and the festival team.

In terms of both the Market and the Festival, the 2018 edition of the CTIFMF saw exponential growth in attendance, partnerships, as well as industry and public support. This year we reached an estimated 70 million people through social media and press coverage. Increased attendance this year also impacted positively on tourism with an emphasis on breaking cultural barriers and unlocking new markets such as the Muslim and MENA regions through our partnership with Africa Halal Week.

Moreover, this year the festival screened no less than 10 films that are official submissions from their respective countries for the Oscars. Namely, “Sew the Winter to My Skin” (South Africa), “Supa Modo” (Kenya) and “Dogman” (Italy) to mention a few. The latter of which went on to win the Best Actor, Best Director as well as the Grand Prix Award. This exceptional quality of film submissions is testament to the rising prestige that the CTIFMF has already achieved over just two years and asserts our relevance within the global film festival fraternity.

As CTIFMF Executive Chairman Rafiq Samsodien explains, “The international market’s response to the quality of our content delivery is yet another validation of the innovative steps we are taking to connect and provide global insights and solutions for the challenges facing the creative industries. This year’s event galvanized the industry and reached out to share this spirit across the continent. More than ever, there is now a keen willingness for more open collaboration and dialogue between stakeholders across disciplines and even borders. We will further develop the sustainability of our industry, but also give new opportunities to markets within the MENA region and beyond.”

The critical support of the City of Cape Town was integral to making the entire event a success, as Rafiq elaborates further, “The fact that the City of Cape Town recognized the key strategic importance of this event, as well as the CTIFMF contributing towards the latest accolade for Cape Town as Best Festival and Events City on the continent, shows our relevance and impact as a sector. We will continue to drive meaningful change and opportunities for our people across the demographic spectrum and ensure that transformation remains a top priority to provide access to those less advantaged.”

Adding to this, Festival CEO Nazeera Hartley Roach had this to say, “One of our main objectives is to effect meaningful change by creating opportunities for youth from underserved communities, ensuring that transformation and job creation remain top priorities. This was demonstrated in our focused youth programme this year that engaged more than 500 youth from across the Cape Flats and as far away as Paarl.

“Women in film was another key focus, as gender equality was another key priority for the festival. This was underscored by the many female filmmakers, jury members and panel speakers who participated in the festival this year. Women took home the majority of the awards in the Works in Progress programme, as well as winning The Writers Guild of South Africa Pitch Competition. The CTIFMF also hosted the launch of the Ladima Foundation’s A-List, South Africa’s largest searchable database of female film industry professionals.”

Marketing Director Jehad Kasu explains that this year’s success was not without challenges, “Our recent success was enabled by a few key visionary supporters, namely The City of Cape Town, Brand South Africa, the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, as well as WESGRO, who truly understand and share our vision for the domestic film industry. Being only two years old, it is during these initial years that we most need the support of sponsors and collaborators. It’s easy for brands to align with an event once it’s established, but it takes vision, belief and courage to invest in the unknown. Now that the City of Cape Town has declared October ‘Film Month’, we hope to attract more support from both the private and public sectors.”

This year’s Cape Town International Film Market and Festival’s Industry programme, meticulously programmed by Market Director Elias Ribeiro and his team, saw over 300 industry professionals and experts taking part in 4 days of intensive discussions and sessions that focused on skills transfer, best practice, and intellectual capacity building.

The CTIFMF Market programme included the incredibly important Works in Progress programme, the ENGAGE Audience Development programme, the ADAPT book adaptation programme, as well as the Writer’s Guild of South Africa’s screenwriting pitch competition.

One of the key sessions within the Industry program was the unique Work Café – a full day devoted to harnessing the collective power of the some of the more exciting emergent national film industries across Africa through a focused discussion where policy makers and experts could develop best practice to move the industry forward.

All of the participants, which included Wesgro, the dti, the Kenya Film Commission, The Nigeria Film Corporation, the NFVF, and the KZN Film Commission, were aware of the uniqueness and importance of the rare opportunity for so many key African film policymakers to be in one room and that the discussion was only the start of what now must become a Pan-African collaborative effort to bridge the gaps between bureaucracy and practicality, and to create a fertile environment in which developing film industries can flourish.

A major announcement was also made during the festival, the confirmation of IFFR as official partners with the CTIFMF to ensure that the festival will now be part of the on-going annual EAVE program. 5 African and 5 European producers will be selected to take part in a year-long programme where 10 audiovisual projects will be developed through two residential workshops and presented at CTIFMF October 2019 and at the 38th CineMart in January 2020.

This partnership is a vote of confidence in the processes and programmes that have been put into place by the CTIFMF and is part of the festival’s long-term strategy to develop African filmmakers within a global context.

The many experts, local, regional and international organisations taking part are too many to list, however, the support of a number of partners needs to be acknowledged. Other partners and participants of this year’s event included Brand South Africa, The European Film Market / Africa Hub, Cannes Film Festival, The Kenya Film Commission, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Nigerian Film Corporation, The Black Filmmakers Festival, SWIFT, the National Film and Video Foundation, The dti, The KZN Film Commission, BFI London, Curtis Brown, The Ladima Foundation, Italian Consulate South Africa, Tribeca Film Festival, Electric South, Black Rhino, Flourishing Films, The Moving Billboard Picture Company, The Refinery, Hollard Insurance, African News Agency, The Callsheet, European Audio Visual Entrepreneurs (EAVE), Independent Producers Association, The Durban International Film Festival, Ster Kinekor, Nu Metro, The V&A Waterfront, The Cape Town Comedy Club, Workshop 17, Africa Halal Week and many others.

The immense success of this year’s event has built a solid foundation for 2019, although the increased support of industry and related stakeholders will be essential in order to constructively build on this foundation.

Rafiq emphasises this point in his final thoughts on the 2018 edition of the CTIFMF, “The entire team involved in this event is grateful to the support of our key partners. I urge everyone with an interest in seeing real economic growth and transformation within our industry to support us as we journey towards CTIFMF 2019.