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STEPPING IN: ECPACC CEO, Phumeza Skoti. Picture: AMANDA NANO

The Eastern Cape film development sector will receive a much-needed financial boost, the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts Council (ECPACC) announced at a media launch at the Eastern Cape Audio Visual Centre, in East London last Wednesday.

This announcement comes after department of sport, recreation, arts and culture (Dsrac) MEC Fezeka Nkomonye-Bayeni said in her maiden 2019-20 policy speech earlier in 2019 this year that the film sector would be prioritised.

ECPACC CEO Phumeza Skoti said R15.8m has been budgeted for the current financial year to assist filmmakers in the province.

“We currently do not have an operational film office which will inform the database once the portal for filmmakers has been launched.

“However, the film office manager will not be able to drive this alone. We are in talks with four municipalities, including two metros, to support us during this financial year,” Skoti said.

She added that immense support will be needed from the filmmakers and other key stakeholders to help build the industry.

ECPACC has funded three film projects in the 2018-19 financial year, namely Project Nongxokozela, the Iqaba Film Festival and Then and Now.

The Iqaba Film Festival is an annual event held in various villages of Debe Nek outside King William’s Town.

It aims to build the talent of schoolchildren and the youth to equip them with the practical skills needed to make films.

Festival organiser Ayanda Mcwabe-Mama said the key is to have reliable film crews in the province that can help develop content.

“During the festival, we did screenings but also came with our own content to shoot.

“Now the key thing we need in the province is distribution and being without it, stalls the production process,” Mcwabe-Mama said.

Mcwabe-Mama said that interns can be taken to other provinces so they may learn and give back into the community, especially in the rural areas.

Local filmmaker Sivuyisiwe Giba said the Wednesday announcement was a good start and that ECPACC should include filmmakers as stakeholders.

“I am glad Skoti came and spoke to us openly so we know exactly what is going on.

“The talks of establishing a film commission should include filmmakers in its planning, as some projects fail because of not involving those on the ground,” Giba said.

Eastern Cape Film Festival founder Nceba Mqolomba said although he had never received any funding from the government since the festival’s inception in 2014, this promises to be a step in the right direction.

“Everything takes time and hopefully this will make a difference.

“However, we have to keep film development constant to help raise the quality of the work,” Mqolomba said.

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