24 May - South African Culture Minister Zweledinga Pallo Jordan today signed an agreement with his British counterpart in London, which will make the way for co-productions that may tap from British promotion funds. The UK government was guided by the many recent successes of the South African film industry on the international market when choosing a new partner for a co-production agreement.
Minister Jordan in London met with the British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and today finalised the deal that will unite the two countries' national film industries. The deal is to "enable the UK and South African film industries to work together to create top class cinema," the optimistic ministers said in a statement today.
Under the new co-production treaty, filmmakers from both countries may pool their resources to create films that will benefit both countries financially and culturally. This means that a South African film deploying some UK actors or other professionals may be termed a co-production and thus have access to British state funds promoting the national film industry.
This type of agreements enable films made jointly by UK producers and their counterparts in other countries to qualify as films with "national" status in both the UK and the other country, meaning that they may be eligible for any national incentives. The co-productions will also be treated as "national" films at film festivals and other arrangements that may include prices.
The British government has so far entered into rather few co-production treaties with other countries, only focusing on prestigious filmmakers. Existing UK agreements include Australia, New Zealand, Canada and France. Currently, however, the Britons aim at developing a new package of bi-lateral co-production agreements, namely with India, China, Jamaica and Morocco.
The first new deal within this initiative - and the first African deal ever - however became South Africa. While Africa's film giant is Nigeria, South African films lately have convinced with several international successes, testifying of the high quality of the national film industry.
This success had been a decisive factor for the Britons to seek an agreement with South Africa, Culture Secretary Jowell revealed. While the British film industry is down from its previous heights, South Africans have gone from success to success. Since 1986 the film industry in South Africa has produced 78 feature films, including "Totsi", "Drum", "Hotel Rwanda", "Red Dust" and "Yesterday". In 2005-06 the industry produced 17 feature films with combined box office earnings of around 50 million rand.
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