This week, at the same time that the release of the movie version of Nelson Mandela's celebrated autobiography, 'Long Walk to Freedom', was drawing fulsome praise from South African and international moviegoers, a national government department began celebrating yet another milestone in what has been described as a carefully crafted plan to build a world-class film industry in South Africa.
For the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), the eagerly awaited release of 'Long Walk to Freedom' has been a case of 'mission accomplished' - again. the dti backed the Mandela movie to the amount of R60-million, in terms of a highly competitive rebate system. As far as the dti is concerned, it has been money well spent.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says South Africa's movie rebate system has attracted a stream of movie makers to South Africa over the past few years.
“During the current administration's term of office, the dti has quadrupled the support it provides to the film industry in this country and ‘Long Walk to Freedom' is as a 'real big landmark' for the SA film industry. I think it will end up with a few Oscar nominations - and, perhaps, even win an Oscar or two”, he said.
The movie covers Mr Mandela’s life from childhood to President of South Africa. The production has created 12, 000 local jobs. And the beauty of this job-creation exercise was that all these jobs were transferred from highly-skilled international practitioners to local people. Wherever possible, goods and services were procured from Broad-based Black Economic Empowered companies.
The film incentive programme is one the best programmes of the department in terms of the co-operative relationship that we have been able to build with local and foreign producers as well as the results that we have been able to achieve in relation to our government’s objectives. This is partly as a result of willingness on the part of the dti to be adaptive, innovative and constantly open to new ideas and to learn from our own experiences. Minister Davies described himself as a strong supporter of the rebate system that had been devised and is being overseen by the dti.
“the dti has approved 71 film productions in 2012/13. 'Long Walk to Freedom' is obviously the big SA production. We have a number of other significant successes. Such as ‘Safe House', starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.”, said the Minister.
Other the dti-backed movies recently filmed in South Africa include the $125-million 'Mad Max - Fury Road, 'Chronicle', 'Dredd', 'Mary and Martha, a TV drama starring Hilary Swank. The tremendous performance of Zambezia, animated feature film made us proud at the Box office. These movies follow on 'Blood Diamond', starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and 'Invictus', the movie about Mandela and the 1995 rugby World Cup (starring Matt Damon).
Local movies have not missed out on the dti-backed rebate system: the Film and TV Production Incentive unit said that more than R500-million had been invested in 50 local films in just over a decade. Some of these movies, among which were 'Tsotsi', 'Hotel Rwanda', 'Red Dust' and 'Country of My Skull', were critically acclaimed on release at top international film festivals. And 'Tsotsi' did even better. It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2005.
Sidwell Medupe - Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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