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SABC's exit puts film fest at risk

By unknown | May 22, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

The future of one of the success stories of the local film industry, the Encounters Documentary Film Festival, hangs in the balance.

This follows the withdrawal of the SABC, its main sponsor, the festival's organisers confirmed yesterday.

The film festival provides a platform for local film-makers to showcase their talent to local broadcasters and film buyers from the international community.

The SABC suddenly withdrew their financial support for the 2009 edition of the festival this week, citing the SABC's "new austerity measures".

"Encounters is now faced with the task of raising sufficient funds in the coming week if it is to take place as planned," says festival director Mandisa Zitha.

It is now doubtful whether the 2009 edition will be showcased from July 2 to 19 in Cape Town unless new sponsors come forward.

Encounters had to withdraw from being held in Johannesburg this year after the Gauteng Film Commission also withdrew its financial support.

"We are appealing to individuals, government and the corporate sector to come forward to help save the festival.

"We now have one week to solve our funding crisis," says Zitha.

The festival, in its 11th year, crucially promotes the growth of the documentary film industry in South Africa.

It has screened hundreds of documentaries in South Africa seen by more than 80000 viewers.

The festival has also commissioned over 40 documentaries and runs access programmes, outreach programmes, school film projects and seminars on documentary making.

"We hope that we can still receive sufficient support to ensure a successful festival this year.

"We believe, if we can get through this current crisis we will be able to produce an even stronger 2010 edition," says Zitha.


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