Award-winning Kenyan film makers Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki) and Sam Soko (Softie) are set to feature on the virtual edition of the 11th Durban FilmMart Institute (DMI) which takes place from 4th to 13th September this year. 

This year’s Durban FilmMart (DFM) theme is “Brave New Cinema” and will look to bring together leading and emerging African film professionals in an online space, to benchmark themselves, learn from peers, pitch their ideas and projects and network, and collectively demonstrate our courage to tell our own stories.

Toni Monty, Head of the DFM, says, “DFM 2020 will focus on African filmmakers who work to contribute cinema images that celebrate, and canonize our struggles and our beauty.”

“These are African filmmakers whose stories challenge oppressive structures, engage with dominant value systems, and reflect our daily experiences. The creation of film is an act of courage because of the ever-increasing challenges in both funding and media freedom in many parts of the continent. This will be a gathering of filmmakers in a celebration of collective African resilience, collective victories and a call for the stories of the future.” 

Powerful words from Monty, especially as the global film industry faces a barrage of hurdles which include censorship and production delays, owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers have said that in an effort to connect African film professionals across the post-colonial divides and create new synergies and networks, this edition is set to include French and Portuguese, two languages largely spoken around the continent, with the this unique online approach birthing an exciting new addition to the Market: The DFM Content Shop.

With this, distributors, sale agents and programmers will have, at their disposal, a catalogue of 90 African projects (fiction, documentary film of all lengths as well as series) that are ready for sale and distribution. These films have been curated to reflect the unique African storytelling and high-quality content that will be discussed throughout the industry programme.

Following from last year’s inaugural Durban Does Docs sessions, delegates will be able to meet and engage with documentary film directors in a series of talks that centre around the art of the creative documentary film. Filmmakers sharing their processes include Sam Soko (Softie) (Kenya), Dylan Valley (Azibuye, a VR documentary film) (SA), Teboho Edkins (Days of Cannibalism) (Germany/SA/Lesotho), Nicole Schafer (Buddha in Africa) (SA) and Petra Costa (Edge of Democracy) (Brazil), amongst others. 

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The DFM Conversations platform is a space in which delegates can participate in in-depth conversations with industry leaders around topics like screenwriting, audience development, representation in filmmaking and pioneering an African aesthetic. Speakers include Roger-Ross Williams (God Loves Uganda, Travelling While Black, Life Animated) (USA), Chioma Ude (AFRIFF) (Nigeria), Kagiso Lediga (Queen Sono) (SA), and Akin Omotoso (Vaya, Ghost in the House of Truth) (Nigeria/SA) and Wanuri Kahui (Rafiki) (Kenya). 

Trailer to Sam Soko’s film ‘Softie’

In a Special Focus, African Content in the New Normal, speakers will discuss the challenges that national lockdowns present and the unique opportunities that these circumstances have offered filmmakers. Topics include Co-production in the New Normal; Homegrown Online platforms for pan-African content; Risk Under and After Covid – Future Prospects for the Service Industry. 

Within this virtual space the online event platform allows for opportunities for filmmakers to take meetings with other delegates and network as individuals or in teams. “Going online has enabled us to extend our reach and include more filmmakers than ever before,” says Mandisa Zitha, Chairperson of the Durban FilmMart Institute Board.