Johannesburg- Earlier this week the Department of Arts and Culture held a two-day film summit under the theme “Transformation and Innovation in the South African Film/Audio-Visual Industry and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).”

Speaking at the event, attended by some of the country’s most creative minds including the award winning Anant Singh, was University of Johannesburg Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.

Marwala explained how even with the revolutions before, Africa has always been slacking behind.

“The first industrial revolution happened in the United Kingdom. The scientific revolution that came of that allowed humans to produce machines. When the first industrial revolution happened in the 1700’s only 60 years later did the first steam engine arrive in South Africa, we cannot afford to be 60 years behind in this day.”

He said the roll over of the second industrial revolution saw Africa as spectators again.

“It was shortly after the Battle of Isandlwana where we won the battle but lost the war and that is because we had not mastered the technological ways of organising ourselves. In the 3rd revolution in the US, 70 years after the discovery of the transistor, this country still does not have a single semiconductor company, this is quite a concern.”

Marwala said now that the fourth industrial revolution was here, it was Africa’s chance to make real advances.

“In the digital technology space and the physical and biology spaces as well we are becoming technological beings. One of the most effective ways of torturing people is to separate them from the cellphones. In fact, studies have been done which show that the brain activity of people who have been separated from their phones is actually very similar to the brain activity of someone who is trying to stop doing drugs. This is a confluence because digital is part of us.”

He said whatever technology was brought to the country needed to be contextualised and most of all people should not be afraid of it.

Young filmmaker and creative, Mpho Ntlatleng spoke on the lack of access the youth has to quality equipment, financial incentives and complying with funding policies.

“The red tapes remain the biggest gate-keeping tools that hampers our entry, progression and overall participation in this industry,” she said.

Ntlatleng added that the success and viability of South African culture and the creative economy was at risk if transformation did not take place.

“What will happen to us young people if this economy does not include the largest population? Africa has the youngest population in the world, it is estimated that by 2055 the continents youth population between 15-24 will more than double to 226 million.”

She said government policies needed to respond to 4IR.

“The west is analysing Mars; the next best destination for human habitation. Our aerial shots as filmmakers are now captured from the ground looking up with our drones tasked to capture images with remote controls which are traditionally shot from airplanes and helicopters.The  world of robotics is moving fast taking over the world and the work we humans are doing. How ready are we as an industry? How ready is the youth? Are we investing in technologies in schools, adapting our film curriculum and making technology accessible for children and the youth to be digitally literate?”

These are questions she asked to minister Nathi Mthethwa who attended the summit with various stakeholders including the NFVF, IDC and the NEF.

“This Summit cannot avoid or escape the imminent disruptions and opportunities presented by all the technological and digital developments. Therefore, adapting and embracing innovation for the transformation of the sector is a necessity if the industry is to realise growth and capture opportunities presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution, digitization and continuing convergence,” said Mthethwa.

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