Silwerskerm Film Festival: nurturing local talent for a decade

25 February 2021

The kykNET Silwerskerm Film Festival launched 11 years ago with only one feature and over a decade later, it showcases 11 annually.

Over the last decade, more than 160 short and feature films debuted at the festival, providing a springboard for new voices that would go on to shine on the global stage.

When Silwerskerm held its first festival in the Karoo-town of Prince Albert in 2010 the aim was to provide a platform for local talent.

Its move to The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay a year later provided an opportunity for growth including the introduction of a short film competition.

This competition created a platform for aspiring filmmakers through a mentorship programme facilitated by the M-Net and kykNET content teams.

“kykNET is proud of the talent, opportunities and films that the Silwerskerm Festival has produced over the last decade. We are very excited about the future and the way the festival is expanding and broadening its horizons, remaining focused on prospering the local industry,” says Karen Meiring, director of M-Net’s kykNET channels

Career Launchpad

The Silwerskerm festival also provided a platform for the team at Gambit Films which won best short film category with Nommer 37.

The story was later developed into a feature film and received international recognition through a US distribution deal.

The Cape Town-based production company has since produced Netflix series Blood and Water and over 1200 episodes of kykNET’s first soap based in Cape Town – Suidooster.

This initiative led to the development of a new studio complex, Atlantic Studios, which has provided more than 100 job opportunities in the film industry since 2015.

The studio also boasts with its own driving school, through the SA Film Academy, which helps young professionals to obtain a driving license.

Christiaan Olwagen is another young talent who was able to secure a feature film deal after the success of his first short film, Toevlug.

His latest feature films Poppie Nongena and Kanarie won numerous international film prizes.

The festival has become the perfect networking platform for young filmmakers.

It is where Amy Jeptha and Ephraim Gordon of Cape Town-based Paper Jet Films met Johan Cronje, Zandré Coetzer and Chanel Muller to establish Nagvlug Films.

This year, two of their exciting projects – feature film Barakat and television series Skemerson – will be distributed for Showmax.

The Silwerskerm Film Festival launched in 2009 with only one feature film. A decade later, it has shown over 160 films and launched countless careers

Nurturing the next generation of filmmakers

In continuing with its support of emerging filmmakers, Silwerskerm partners with film schools around the country to showcases students’ work during the annual festival in Camps Bay.

This initiative gives future filmmakers the opportunity to attend the festival and to interact with producers and major role players in the industry.

“The biggest testament to the success of the Silwerskerm Festival is the impressive careers it launched and the production companies that grew out of the opportunities created by the festival,” says M-Net’s Jan du Plessis.

“We now know that Silwerskerm not only celebrates homegrown stories but it is also opening doors for the potential global future of our local film and TV industry.”

The festival also broadens horizons and opens new doors by inviting international festival directors, curators and film production experts to facilitate workshops and talks with local filmmakers.

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 edition was hosted as a webinar.

The online version of the festival offered organisers the opportunity to secure more international speakers who shared their experiences and knowledge about new ways of creating content for homebound audiences.

The webinar also provided a valuable forum for the discussion of new industry challenges in this uncertain time.

Thus, what started as an opportunity to introduce new voices, has become a talent development factory for the film and television industry.

The Silwerskerm Film Festival shows the commitment of kykNET and M-Net towards the development of local talent by providing a prestigious platform, mentorship programmes and financial support to South African filmmakers.

More information on the festival: