Friday, December 03, 2004

Documentary funding (DCF) picthing report back

by Liezel Vermeulen

The stress. The five minutes spotlight. The knife-edge teetering between yes and maybe. The Encounters Sithengi Documentary Co-Production Forum allows documentary filmmakers to pitch their proposals to a panel of commissioning editors from France, Germany, Finland, the SABC. Filmmakers go through this grueling, nailbiting process hoping to initiate a friendship based on co-production or commissioning interest from the panel.

With only five minutes to pitch and five minutes to answer questions, Vincent Moloi’s A Pair of Boots and a Bicycle attracted the most attention in a morning worth of pitches. His documentary is about the 120 000 black South Africans who fought in the Second World War to return to South Africa. Moloi’s story tries to reconstruct the reasons why mineworker Job Maseko became a hero at Tobruk and survived 23 days in the desert to return home to poverty and a destitute death. “I got the idea first when I was in rural QwaQwa as a ten year old boy and heard his story on the radio. It stayed in my mind like his memory stayed in the minds of his family. We haven’t had many heroes besides Struggle heroes.”

“It’s overwhelming when you see people appreciating our South African stories, their feedback and support is important, but we must tell our own stories.” says Moloi. He’ll be keeping in touch and developing his story further. “This forum is a first step of getting to know each other and getting a sense of the project” says Sabine Bubeck-Paaz of ZDF Arte in Germany.

About 60% of the people pitching are existing filmmakers, but if they go into production their films will be premiered at the Encounters Documentary Film Festival says Encounters and DCF director Steven Markowitz. “We’ve proven the success of this forum with Rehad Desai’s Born into Struggle which received support last year and won awards at Encounters and the Apollo Theatre Film Festival this year”.

The DCF is modelled on IDFA and “opens the interaction between the filmmaker and interested parties” says Anna Miralis Australian SBS “We specialise in presales and acquisitions, so this is the establishment of a relationship with the film”