Tuesday, October 21, 2014

M-Net is looking for new local content

Opportunity For Filmmakers 

M-Net is looking for fresh, new local content and inviting production companies and format creators to pitch their ideas for an original unscripted show that will provide blockbuster television entertainment in 2015.

The pitching process, which is open to the entire industry, will commence in October 2014 and will consist of a 10 minute face-to-face pitch with M-Net’s commissioning team in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. While M-Net is definitely looking for compelling new reality shows, other unscripted genres will also be accepted.

“Since changing the landscape of South African television in 2001 with Big Brother South Africa, the country's first local version of an international reality show format, M-Net has continued to raise the bar with highly-acclaimed, first, exclusive local entertainment in HD,” says M-Net director, Victor Eckard, “but now it's game on to find ‘the next big thing’. We can't wait to see where this open pitch will take us.”

As this new show will take its place alongside the superb local and international programmes on M-Net, it should have high production values, speaking to the needs of DStv Premium viewers who want to be entertained by slick, sophisticated, unpredictable and unique content for the entire family.

"What we definitely don't want is anything that is dated, old-fashioned or anything we've seen before. It's M-Net, after all," adds Eckard.

Producers and format creators who would like to book a time for their pitch can find the full brief here.


Please note that it is compulsory for producers to submit their show concept via this M-Net web portal too. No hard copies will be accepted.

Once the online submission is completed, producers will be contacted by the M-Net commissioning team to confirm a time slot for their pitch.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Film Review - The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty         (142 minutes)            Italian with English Sub-Titles

From the very beginning “La Grande Bellezza,” in English “The Great Beauty” entices with its audacious scenes of Rome.

Perhaps all of this is a dream. The film may seem as Baroque as in its sensibilities like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” we are in the presence of great theatre, the stage is the city, Rome. If life is a dream, we are easily seduced by Sorrentino’s lush canvas.
From the high vistas of Rome, we travel through the facile world of la dolce vita, although these darkened corners are less the world of Fellini; yet showing a wistful but jaded detachment from all, namely a world drenched in facades.

The main character, Jeb Gambardella, a latter-day Proust without the cork-lined rooms; appears satiated by his life as the dilettante. His character although constantly flitting from party to party represents an older world, where sensory beauty, and art is everything.

Gambardella is surrounded by the opposite side of the coin: the nouveau riche. The contrast between the writer, his interior motives and his destiny are uneasily juxtaposed to the new era. The shallow swans, swains and chimeras of this Rome, an Italy of empty poseurs, indulge their media fantasies, endless Bellusconi-like parties, reprises a large segment of the film. The depths of the dark shades are really a beautiful meditation on loss, life, death, memory, art which encourages a dance, an evocation most satisfying, because it is a life involved in art. The visionary element of this film charts the vagaries of modern Rome. Subtly played by all, especially Toni Servillo as Gambardella; but we are drawn to the furies of the city, both good and bad. This universe brings both creation, but also death. Fame, as some have come to regard it, may be the disease of the age, while some find it difficult to part from its allure. Gambardella seems ambivalent, although he is intoxicated by the beauty of this truncated world, and the nature of Rome.

Rome resplendent is very fine indeed. In the hands of this director we share in a very human fable. The body and life of man: his sadness, his pride and his destiny unfold with the poignancy of the most fervent dreams. “La Grande Bellezza” is full of life with many dazzling scenes. We might have a vainglorious tale; the story of a modern Icarus, but my, how brightly he, Gambardella burns. This is an old-fashioned film, but it is a truly Great one in the European tradition.   

Review by Timothy Sparks
Freelance Writer - Poet - Film Reviewer
Email: tphwsparks@gmail.com 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

You can contribute to the School Eye Health Project with Ster-Kinekor

The South African School Eye Health Project aims to screen 50 000 school children
in three years!

Project will provide support to Government’s Integrated School Health Programme

(At the launch of the School Eye Health Project today, World Sight Day, held at Ster-Kinekor Gateway in Durban, are (from left to right):
Fiaz Mahomed, CEO of Ster-Kinekor Theatres; Prof Kovin Naidoo, Global Programme Director of the Brien Holden Vision Institute; Dr Nina Kriel, President of SAOA (South African Optometric Assn); Jayshree Naidoo, representing the KwaZulu-Natal Dept of Health; with some of the learners who attended the event this morning.)

Ster-Kinekor, Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Durban - 09 October 2014:  A young child sits in school, struggling to follow his lesson. The teacher’s notes on the blackboard are a blur, and the child, unable to see past his arm, soon gives up his attempts to concentrate. It seems his poor eyesight will cause him to fail yet another subject – or perhaps, like others in his position, he will drop out of school altogether.

Although a simple eye examination and a pair of spectacles would correct his vision, the lack of access to proper eye care and spectacles has placed him at a severe disadvantage. His avoidable blindness has impeded his learning, which will affect him for the rest of his life. And he is not alone.

It is estimated that six out of every 10 children in South Africa with reduced vision can be corrected with glasses, yet only 20 percent of those children needing glasses, have them. Considering that up to 80% of what children learn is assimilated through their eyes (an estimate), any form of vision impairment can adversely affect a child’s educational growth. 

In an effort to address this urgent need, Ster-Kinekor Theatres’ CSI initiative, Vision Mission, has partnered with the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the Provincial Departments of Health and Education and the South African Optometric Association (SAOA), to launch the South African School Eye Health Project.

Launched on World Sight Day today (09 October), the School Eye Health Project aims to support the implementation of eye health services within the government’s national Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP). The project will provide eye care to thousands of disadvantaged learners in five provinces - KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Says Geraldine Engelman, CSI and projects manager of Ster-Kinekor Theatres: “During the three-year project, we plan to screen approximately 50 000 children, and provide free pairs of spectacles to at least 2 500 of those suffering from refractive error and low vision. We will also be launching various other initiatives including health promotions and educational messages to reach an even wider group of children and adults in the targeted provinces.”

Working in association with various departments within each province, including the Departments of Health, Basic Education and Women, Children and People Living with Disabilities, the objectives of the partnership will be to:

  • Contribute resources and skills for refractive and low vision services within the district health system;
  • Improve child eye health services through screening, examination and management of vision problems within the ISHP;
  • Improve the integration of child eye health into the government’s broader development and disability agenda; and
  • Improve the eye health seeking behaviour through appropriate health promotion messages and education.

According to Professor Kovin Naidoo, the Global Programme Director for the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the School Eye Health Project addresses a desperate need. “Our country faces many social and economic challenges. In such a context of competing needs, it is critical that civil society, business and government work together to address children’s needs, since they are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society especially in a climate of limited resources.

“The Brien Holden Vision Institute applauds the concern and caring that Ster-Kinekor and SAOA have shown in supporting government’s Integrated School Health Programme. This Public Private Partnership is a quality investment in the future of our children,” concluded the Professor.

Dr Nina Kriel, President of the SAOA, comments: “It is our wish to contribute to the elimination of avoidable vision impairment and blindness due to refractive error and low vision. Working with our partners in this initiative, it is our aim to render these much-needed services in public schools as a pilot programme initially, in partnership with the various provincial departments. Such an undertaking would not be possible without the valuable input from the private sector, and we are extremely grateful for their enthusiasm and contribution to the project.”

For Ster-Kinekor, sight is integral to appreciating the wonderful and magical world of cinema that is projected onto its big screens. “We are excited to be extending our Vision Mission programme into another area of eye health – the ISHP – and, with the assistance and commitment from our dedicated partners, to launch the South African School Eye Health Project. For us, it is a privilege to be in a position to raise awareness about the importance of eye health, specifically around the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness, and to give back to the communities in which we operate,” says Engelman.

The aims of Vision Mission are to contribute to the elimination of avoidable blindness in communities across South Africa, and to increase awareness of low vision as a major public health issue. The programme is also aligned to the World Health Organisation’s Universal Eye Health Global Action Plan 2014-2019.

“Being able to walk into a darkened cinema and watch in wonder as a fantastical story unfolds before your eyes, in a larger-than-life format, is a wonderful experience. All our customers who enjoy watching films at our cinemas can also make a difference, simply by making a contribution to the Vision Mission project when purchasing their tickets,” states Engelman.

Customers can contribute to the School Eye Health Project either when booking online (www.sterkinekor.com) or at one of the self-service terminals in the cinema foyer. The public can opt in to make a donation, from as little as R2.50, to Vision Mission when prompted during the booking process. One click is all it takes to give someone with sight impairment the hope for a clearer vision of their future – and every donation will make a difference.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Free Japanese Film Festival For South Africa

Opportunity to view some gems from the Far East… and it’s free to the public

Continuing in its efforts to bring the best of international ‘art house’ cinema to South African audiences, Cinema Nouveau is excited to announced that it is once again hosting the increasingly popular Japanese Film Festival in South Africa. Now in its 21th year, the festival is co-organised by the Embassy of Japan in South Africa and the Japan Foundation.
The festival content is free to the public, and will be screened over weekends during October at the following cinemas: Brooklyn Nouveau in Brooklyn Mall Pretoria (03 – 05 October), V&A Nouveau at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town (10 – 12 October) and Rosebank Nouveau in the Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg (17 – 19 October).
The Annual Japanese Film Festival is aimed at promoting understanding of Japanese culture among South Africans. This year’s festival aims to celebrate the journey Japan has taken with South Africa, which is significant as it marks the 20 year anniversary of South Africa’s Democracy.
All the films are in Japanese with English subtitles. Free tickets will be available at the box office one hour before screening.  This year’s selection include the following six films:

Sayoko rents out cats to help lonely people fill the emptiness in their hearts. She walks along the banks of the river with a megaphone promoting her service and her animals in a handcart. It turns out that Sayoko is lonely too, ever since the death of her grandmother. All she has left is her cats. However, one day a young man shows up from Sayoko's past. He follows her home and suddenly Sayoko's life seems to completely fall apart.

Akko Chan: The Movie (PG)
Atsuko Kagami - known as “Akko Chan”- is a 10 year old girl in elementary school . One day, a magical spirit appears to her and gives her a magical compact. Akko uses it to become a 22 years old, and has a blast wearing makeup that she adores and many fashionable outfits. And if that wasn’t enough, she even meets the man of her dreams! Her crush is Naoto Hayase, an elite manager at a famous cosmetics company. But his company faces a corporate buyout and is about to be taken over. As he strives to turn his company around by developing an innovative new product, Akko comes up with totally unexpected ideas to take on the crisis. Will she be able to save the man she loves? And what will happen to their relationship?

Tug of War! (PG)
Inspired by a true story, Tug of War! is the “heart-warming tale” of how eight ordinary women band together to try and revitalise their local community.  Chiaki Nishikawa (Mao Inoue) works at the public relations department for the city of Oita. In the past, the city had won the tug-of-war world championship three times and Chiaki is also an enthusiast for the tug-of-war game. To promote the city of Oita, the mayor instructs Chiaki to form a female tug-of-war team. Full of laughter and tears, this heart-warming human drama depicts the everyday challenges of women, as they face the world head-on as daughters, wives and mothers and how just tugging on a rope brings them together!

Fly, Dakota, Fly (PG)
January 1946 - a British military transport plane departs from Shanghai on its way to Tokyo, Japan. During the flight the airplane makes an emergency landing on Sado Island (located in the Chubu region of Niigata Prefecture, Japan). The residents on the island have heard about stereotypes of the British soldiers and have mixed feelings about their new "guests." Nevertheless, for the next 40 days the islanders take care of the crew members until the plane can take off once again. This includes Chiyoko Morimoto (Manami Higa) who is the daughter of the inn owner where some of the British crew members stay.  Based on a true story and filmed on location on Sado Island with support from the local community, including some who witnessed the event back in 1946.

Tokyo Oasis (PG)
Touko seems to have lost her grip on reality.   Along her journey soul searching, she becomes acquainted with people who carry similar issues as she does. A midnight truck driver, NAGANO, who happens to give Touko a ride, is grappling with the discovery of his soul and is unable to move forward. His escape from reality is to continually move from place to place. A movie theater manager KIKUCHI is uncertain of her life. She has moved to new surroundings but feels more lost than ever. A young job seeker at the zoo YASUKO has no faith in her future. She thinks that her luck is slipping away from her. During the extraordinary time they spend together Touko and the 3 characters start to feel a new awareness growing and discover a new found sense of freedom, an oasis within. Together they feel change taking place. Finally, Touko begins to walk again with lightened steps toward a new beginning of everyday life in Tokyo.

Leaving on the 15th Spring (PG13)
On Minamidaito Island there isn't a high school, consequently teenagers who turn 15-years-old leave the island to attend high schools. Yuna Nakazato (Ayaka Miyoshi) lives on Minamidaito Island with her father. She is the youngest child and has two older siblings. Yuna has one year left before she must leave the island to attend high school. Her father grows sugar cane on the island. Yuna’s mother lives in Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, originally to watch over her older sister Mina while she attended high school there. Yuna’s older brother also works in Naha. Every family on Minamidaito Island has a similar situation where the family lives separately. Yuna misses her mom, but she worries about her father, who will be left alone next year. Yuna is curious about the world and also feels unease over her future.

(Source - Ster-Kinekor) 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Opportunity for Durban Filmmakers - Micro Budget Film Programme

Durban Film Office announce first grantees of its Development Fund and Micro Budget Film Programme.

(Philani Sithebe and Bonie Sithebe – Durban Motion PicturesEthekwini Deputy Mayor,  Cllr Nomvuzo Shabalala
Junaid Ahmed – Junaid Ahmed Productions, Sizwe Mkhaliphi – Zamolade Constructing and Resources) 

The very first grantees of the Micro Budget Film and the Development Funding Programmes were awarded at a special Durban Film Office event, which took place at SmartXchange, on the 1 October at 12pm – 1pm. This Film Development Fund event not only marked the start of an exciting new chapter for the filmmaking grantees and the Durban Film Office, it also publicized the official call out details for the next new submissions.
The Durban Film Office, the eThekwini Municipality’s film industry development arm, kick-started the submissions for the Micro Budget Film Programme and the Development Fund Programme at the beginning of 2014 with imperative goals to help provide Durban filmmakers with invaluable support, assistance and funding. Enthralled with the standard of submissions, the Durban Film Office, along with the Deputy Mayor Cllr Nomvuzo Shabalala, were thrilled and proud to award the first grantees for these programmes.
“I want to congratulate all the beneficiaries of our development programme in terms of the film industry. I’m so glad to see how much the Durban Film Office has achieved, in terms of making sure our dream of including the development component in the film industry, especially with developing our own people from Durban and from South Africa. The biggest thing is to make sure that we encourage them to do exchange programmes whereby the up-and-coming artists will be able to learn from those who have been a part of the industry for a longer time. I know once these programmes are known by the public sector there will be people who will come on board and also sponsor some of the film productions. So with that, we will be able to succeed, and will be able to tell of these success stories in a few years to come,” says Deputy Mayor Cllr Nomvuzo Shabalala.
Commemorating the beginning of this new chapter, the Micro Budget Film Programme was awarded to Sizwe Mkhaliphi from Zamolade Constructing and Resources for the project Mhlola, Andile Buwa from Buwa Films for Family Matters, Akhona Matyila from Mulatto Films for A History of Memory, and Similo Gobingca from Burning Coast Films for Ports of Saints. This exciting new programme is set to arm these emerging filmmakers each with a R100 000 grant to produce their film and provide insight into industry know-hows on sourcing additional funding through the micro-budget model, and in depth training focusing on marketing, sales, support, advertising, product placement and sponsorship deals.   
“When I found out I was a grantee for the Micro Budget Film Programme I was so excited and grateful for the opportunity. It is a great platform and a little intimidating at times when I think about what a really cool opportunity it is! I hope to achieve a beautiful film and gain better experience as a filmmaker. I know if I put a lot of hard work and take in good advice this film could bring about other opportunities,” says Micro Budget Film Programme grantee Similo Gobingca.
The Development Fund Programme was awarded to Bonie Sithebe from Durban Motion Pictures and Junaid Ahmed from Junaid Ahmed Productions CC. These two filmmakers have been granted R250 000 funding to assist the production of their projects, which have been deemed to be commercially viable and locally and globally competitive.

“When I first received the email to say that I am a grantee for this fund, I read it three more times to make sure it was real. When I realised it was, I was so happy I called everyone involved to let them know. I hope to achieve a well-developed script that would be of international standard. My first plan of action is to involve all relevant creatives to assist in getting the project off the ground,” says Development Funding Programme grantee Bonie Sithebe.
“The Durban Film Office is proud of the first grantees awarded the Micro Budget Film Programme and the Development Fund Programme; we are confident in our choice and eager to see these programmes in action. We are certain these programmes are going to give our Durban filmmakers the leading edge in the competitive film industry. More importantly we know it will equip them with sound knowledge, support and put them on the map locally and even internationally,” says Durban Film Office’s Toni Monty.   
The Durban Film Office has announced the second phase for these innovative programmes and encourages local filmmakers to take advantage of this exciting opportunity and submit their projects for the chance to be the next grantees. For more information about the programmes, and how to submit projects, contact Project Manager, Fezile Peko via email fezile.peko@durban.gov.za at the Durban Film Office or go to www.durbanfilmoffice.com