This year’s theme is collaboration and if Rafiq Samsodien, the festival’s executive chairperson and Oscar-nominated producer and Jehad Kasu, the marketing director, are to be believed, it is going to be one for the books.
Samsodien was nominated for an Oscar in 2013 for his short film Asad. He is a proud Capetonian, matriculated from Spes Bona in Athlone and has spoken passionately about the plan to empower film-makers from these shores at the upcoming event.
“Being a person with his feet on the ground who resonates with the challenges that film-makers experience trying to get funding, we decided to look at the opportunity to see what can we do,” he told Weekend Argus.
Kasu believes the film festival will empower those interested in pursuing careers on the small and big screens and there are plans to help them get a foot in the door.
“We’ll have a platform for aspiring film-makers to apply to the festival for free access to the event. We have a limited number of tickets to grant to them to access the workshops and pitching sessions if they have projects ready for pitching and to network within the film industry in the Western Cape and beyond.
“Moving forward we are going to run a fully fledged youth film workshop that focuses on mobile content and also using mobile devices to shoot content, so as to draw them into the art and business of film-making.
“We will bring in as many as we can at our expense as a way of giving back to the community. We are taking ownership of this space and saying as business owners we have a vested interest in the success of the industry and we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is.”
The festival has a partnership with the City of Cape Town, but is largely self-funded. The company, based in Table View and formerly a non-profit organisation, switched to being a Pty Ltd to enhance its profitability. It has seven core staff members, including CEO Nazeera Hartly Roach.
Kasu sang the praises of their leader.
“I think it’s worth mentioning that the company has a female CEO of colour. I think it makes a bold statement about the transformation of ownership of businesses in the country. And we’ve got a lot of admiration and respect for her.”
Samsodien said: “Everyone aspires to go to Cannes Film Festival, Tiff (Toronto International Film Festival) and Tribeca.
“Why don’t we have something like that on a domestic level that is accessible to people? For us that is a very important thing.
“Most film-makers see themselves as struggling artists trying to understand business. What we want to establish by this endeavour is to build successful filmmaking entrepreneurs.”
Samsodien stressed the importance of hard work and being prepared to start at the bottom. “I’ve come from the ground up, and worked as a PA even when I had some measurable credentials to my name. I still had to take the broom and I had to sweep. You have to pay your dues. You cannot go from zero to hero and expect to be entitled to ownership. We cannot live with that kind of mindset. If you have a dream, you’ve got to pursue the dream. But if you’re going to pursue the dream you have to do so with purpose.”
The festival runs from October 12 to 21 with the opening of the market on October 18. Before that a partnership with the Global Max Media Group kicks into gear.
Global Max is the largest independent Chinese media company in Africa, with a footprint in nine African countries and another 17 globally.
Kasu has big dreams for the event. “The vision is that the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival will become the most iconic and respected film platform in Africa. We want people all over the world to aspire to submitting their films to our festival.”
* More information on the festival can be found at www.filmfestival.capetown.