Rafiq Samsodien is chairman of the latest addition to Cape Town’s film festival calendar. He is on a mission to make film-making more accessible. Picture: Yazeed Kamaldien
Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid comrade Andrew Mlangeni made his way to the opening night on Cape Town’s latest film festival this week.

He was attending a screening of An Act of Defiance, a fiction film telling the story of Bram Fischer, the lawyer who defended Mlangeni.

Their court case, known as the Rivonia Trial, is a landmark in South African history as it led to the decades-long imprisonment of Mandela and others, including Mlangeni and the deceased Ahmed Kathrada.

This film set the tone for the 11-day Cape Town International Film Market and Festival, essentially telling audiences it wants to be taken seriously.

Politicians, film industry professionals and artists filled two cinemas at the V&A Waterfront on Thursday’s opening night.

Festival chairman Rafiq Samsodien said they had scheduled workshops aimed at strengthening the business side of film-making.

“We are showcasing many good films. And it’s important to celebrate films. But it can’t be disconnected from the business component of what we do,” said Samsodien.

“Some film-makers position themselves as struggling artists trying to understand business. We are trying to build solutions to take people out of this paradigm so they become equipped to understand business.”

A number of workshops will include talks by established film-makers as well as an introduction to international industry developments.

A free expo will also run during the festival. Samsodien said this was intended to “connect people to the film industry”.

“The expo is not only for the film industry. It is for everyone. We want to have people connecting. The film industry is completely reliant on every service to make it functional. We need caterers, costume designers, lawyers and entrepreneurs.

“We want to erase barriers to young people who want to be film-makers. You can find a home in the ecosystem of the film industry.

“People with smart phones capture things on their cameras all the time. That can be the starting block of becoming the next generation of film-makers.

“And young people understand technology and its uses. But they don’t understand storytelling. They can come to a film festival and learn that.”

Apart from workshops and industry talks, the main focus is on films.

Categories include feature and documentary films as well as a number of short films, which are sometimes overlooked at festivals of this nature.

The festival runs at Ster Kinekor cinemas at the V&A Waterfront daily until October 21. The free Film Market Expo runs at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal inside the Cape Town harbour precinct.