And so the Silwerskerm Festival 2017 ended on a celebratory note with the Afrikaans filmmaking fraternity being honoured for their passion, perseverance, ingenuity and heartfelt storytelling.
Karen Meiring, who, in her role as the M-Net Director: kykNET Channels, plays a crucial part in this creative process.
She first revisits the birth of this festival, saying, “The festival was first launched in Prince Albert in 2010 and presented for the first time at The Bay Hotel in 2011. The motivation for starting the festival was to create opportunities for new, established and veteran filmmakers to get together and be exposed to one another’s work. It was also to create a platform for the development of new filmmakers through a short film competition and a means to discover talent for kykNET content. The results of the festival, now in its seventh year, has exceeded all expectations.”
Last night, the industry celebrated as a whole. It didn’t matter whether they won, were nominated or they were simply at the festival to screen (or talk) about their work - there was a camaraderie that was not just admirable but inspiring, too.
The selection process started early this year, where the festival producers approached film distribution companies to find out what they are working on and what they could premiere. This discussion is also extended to film producers. Thereafter a list is compiled, content viewed by an internal panel and then assessed on merit.
Of this process, Meiring points out, “We allow for up to eight premieres at the festival depending on the amount of high quality films available.”
She continues, “The short films, of course, run as a project from early in the year. Filmmakers submit their concepts online and then a large panel of internal and external readers whittle them down to roughly 20-30 finalists, who get to submit a first draft script. From those scripts our panel then chooses the final short films to be put into production and completed for premiere and competition at the festival.”
On the conspicuous surge in Afrikaans movies/short stories, Meiring offers, “What really stands out this year and indeed year-on-year are two key things. Firstly, the overall quality of the films keep improving and are starting to reach heights in terms of stylistic and technical proficiencies. Secondly, we’re seeing very distinct and individual voices emerging – young writers and directors who bring to their work a conviction and clarity of vision in terms of genre, tone, stylisation and intent. It is also very encouraging to see the collaboration between different production companies, merging talent and technical skills into an important supportive stream.
Highlighting the festival biggies, Meiring reveals, “ We had 65 films on the festival programme; 21 were short films that compete and are funded by kykNET. The six Afrikaans films in competition were: Raaiselkind, Liewe Kersfeesvader, Vuil Wasgoed, Meerkat Maantuig, Wonderlus and Vaselinetjie.
By the way, Raaselkind, Meerkat Maantuig, Vuil Wasgoed, Wonderlus and Vaselinetjie walked away with honours.
The short films shown at the festival will be screen on kykNET later this year.
Meiring adds, “All Afrikaans films will be scheduled on kykNET when it becomes available in the broadcasting window. Although we are here to showcase new work, the festival is ultimately a platform for conversation and opportunities.”