THE cast at the official premiere of the comedy drama, 3 Days To Go, at Ster-Kinekor Gateway last week. From left: Leeanda Reddy, Jailoshini Naidoo, Lillete Dubey, Zakeeya Patel and Kajal Bagwandeen.     SIBONELO NGCOBO African News Agency (ANA)
THE cast at the official premiere of the comedy drama, 3 Days To Go, at Ster-Kinekor Gateway last week. From left: Leeanda Reddy, Jailoshini Naidoo, Lillete Dubey, Zakeeya Patel and Kajal Bagwandeen. SIBONELO NGCOBO African News Agency (ANA)

Step aside Hollywood, enter KZN’s Dollywood

By Mercury Reporter Time of article published Jan 24, 2019

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DURBAN - A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to the premiere of 3 Days To Go, a gripping film produced here in Durban by young film-maker Bianca Isaac.

Working together with the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission committed financial resources to the production of the film. We at the department were impressed by the work of the young film-maker and her producer Gregory Mthanji, as well as the return on our investment.

This has encouraged us to seek more ways to turn the thriving KZN film industry into a national and international powerhouse. We want to do that by creating more opportunities for local film-makers.

We are thrilled by the strides made in quality, talent and execution of the production of 3 Days To Go. It is also pleasing that the production attracted local talent as well as Bollywood star Lillette Dubey, who has starred in British and Canadian films like Dr Cabbie.

Those who watch 3 Days To Go at the box office will agree they saw the best of what KZN has to offer.

We want to use this sector to create social and cultural cohesion, stimulate tourism and improve local economic development.

The film industry has the propensity and inclination to create opportunities and we should harness that and the government will support such initiatives.

Both the US and Nigeria have used their motion picture industries, Hollywood and Nollywood respectively, to advance issues of nationalism, to create a sense of pride and to establish their local economies, and they have taken their cultures across their boundaries.

The same obviously applies with India’s Bollywood, a film industry that has ignited widespread appeal.

One factor to note is that these three countries have massive populations whose bulk buying power is enormous.

I am alluding to these well-known global film industries because I am confident that South Africa in general and KZN in particular, with all our resources, infrastructure, talent and stories to tell, should be able to establish a solid film industry.

In other words we already have the base; it is a matter of pooling all our resources to realise this.

Charles Igwe, the chief executive of Nollywood Global Media Group, once said in 2015 that Nollywood was unplanned and sprang from the interplay of a few unique coincidences and circumstances. In contrast, our “Dollywood” could be built on a solid base.

Through our entity KwaZulu-Natal Film, we have funded a litany of other locally-produced films like Mbongeni Ngema’s Asinamali; Kalushi, which depicts the last days of condemned young MK combatant Solomon Mahlangu; Beyond The River; and Keeping Up With The Kandasamys, which grossed a record R13million - a first for a local film.

So with the latest offering of collaborative hard work and dedicated effort, KZN has added a new entry to its film heritage. It is prudent to note that during the production of this R6m budget film, skills were transferred, experience shared, jobs created and local enterprises supported.

With this latest instalment, we offer special gratitude to the role players behind the scenes: from gaffers to focus-pullers; from make-up artists to art designers; from runners to the directors of photography.

The movie will bolster our efforts in the promotion of our majestic kingdom as a global destination for film production.

In line with our transformation mandate to have a South African industry that is inclusive, this movie provided opportunities for people from historically disadvantaged communities.

The KZN Film Commission prioritises women, youth and black filmmakers. It insists on the use of a 70% black production crew. This prioritisation is a basis for the sustainable future that will see this industry grow to stratospheric levels.

We are proud that the company behind the film is 100% female and youth-owned.

Perhaps we should also state that the KZN Film Commission is equally proud to be associated with the following films, which will soon hit our theatres: Love Lives Here - directed by Norman Maake; Deep End - directed by Eubulus Timothy; Uncovered - directed by Zuko Nodada; Kings of Mulberry - directed by Judy Naidoo; and The Last Victims - directed by Maynard Kraak.

Our efforts should also focus on the development of young actors through incubation programmes if we are to see this dream realised.

Young videography students should be identified, groomed and empowered.

We should do that while also looking at possible exchange programmes with our international counterparts. The time is now for South African films, directors and actors to also haul in Oscars.

It is possible. As Nelson Mandela once put it: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Zikalala is the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal


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