I left South Africa a few weeks ago with such great pride and fulfillment. NYC PictureStart Film Festival Visits South Africa finished April 28th in Johannesburg with two back-to-back sold out screening nights. We had over 225 people attend the Potchefstoom screenings as well. The South Africa film festival project was a solid success on so many levels.
The three weeks I was in South Africa went by pretty fast and most of it was a blur. This is what I knew going to South Africa: that the event would definitely take place regardless. The funds had been raised through friends and family via Kickstarter and all was planned. But because this was a first time event outside of the U.S. for NYCPSFF there were a lot of uncertainties. We had no idea how many people would attend for one thing. We also didn’t know how we would be received. However, I started to get a feel of how things were shaping up by the end of my first week there.
The certainty started with my very first live radio interview. The show, Jenny Crwys-Williams on Talk Radio 702, is the number one cultural show in Johannesburg and apparently a hard get. Chris, Kevin, Thabo and Siya of Dark Horse communications, the media group that volunteered their services because they believed in what we were doing, scored that interview along with all the others that followed – Kaya FM, MIX FM, Getaway magazine. They organized a press night where I screened some of the films and talked about the festival. Interviews with a fashion show on Soweto TV, an interview on The African Channel and an interview on the biggest morning news show, Morning Live, ended my media run in Johannesburg. In Potchefstroom, we were also interviewed by the local university radio station as well as by the student newspaper.
I couldn’t have made this festival happen here without a lot of people. Steven Bosch, Director of NYCPSFF – South Africa was my main partner in crime. Steven is a lecturer of Communications at North West University, and I knew right away when I first met him last November that he was the one. I was right. Not only did Steven and I have many, many conversations about film, which always seals the deal with people I connect with, but he also went beyond the call of duty with helping out and getting things organized before I landed. This was his show and I was very happy about that. He has this love of film and this need to introduce film to others that inspires me.
There were many others that came forward to help with this project, starting with Werner Prinsloo, who I met in NYC at the end of summer of 2012. Werner lives in Johannesburg
and when I told him I was thinking about coming to Johannesburg in November to explore the possibilities of bringing NYCPSFF to South Africa, he opened up his house to me and introduced me to Chris (Dark Horse Communications) and also to Jamie Ramsay, a filmmaker based in Johannesburg, who started Kasi Movie Nights, an initiative to bring South Africa based films to rural townships via a mobile cinema.
Christoff Swanepoel was the first person I met in NYC who I started chatting about bringing the festival to South Africa. He works at North West University and set up the initial meetings with people in Potch, including Steven. Christoff is now again playing an integral part in the future of the festival for next year. Thanks Christoff.
Others to thank who stepped forward: Henry and Mariska at Videotheque in Potch. They were so excited about our festival and were very eager to help and I can’t wait to work with them again; Albert at Snowflake, the venue we screened at in Potch was also very kind and supportive as were all the students that volunteered their time to film, shoot, host and work the ticket counter; Russell and Darryl at Bioscope and their hard working staff, who ran ragged during our Johannesburg run. The Maboneng Precinct is happening and I was thrilled to have been part of this urban, hip environment.
The biggest accomplishment though was the response from the audience from our program and the feedback I received from the filmmakers who attended. We screened a total of twelve films. Six films were South African based films and six films were films I
had screened and received well in past NYC festivals. It was truly an honor to screen all twelve films. Many thanks to Soham Mehta (Fatakra), Serge Kushnier (The Boyle Effect), Simon Toy (True Love), Aaron C. Peer (Poolside), Matthias Rosenberger (Spaghetti For Two) and Jim MacDonald (Heavy Lifting). Your films were very well received and provided great shows to a new audience. I love all these films and was proud to screen them.
I was also proud to show the South Africans the films that their own are producing. Filmmakers, crew and/or actors of all but one of the South African films attended. They were so humble and appreciative and I was impressed by their passion and enthusiasm. I saw them talking with audience members about their films through out the end of the evening. Every one of them thanked Steven and I profusely. Bringing this community
together was a goal we had and we succeeded in that regard. Thank you Miklas Mannake (Kanye Kanye), Garon Campbell (Umkumbhi Wethu), Daniel Levi (Henry), Vaughan Coetzee (Brunch), Zee Ntuli (Bomlambo) and Alexander Melck (Waterborne), not only for being so supportive and thankful to us, but for your professionalism and your intense talent.
Audience members also brought smiles to our faces many times over the course of the week. They loved all the films. They appreciated all the films. They appreciated the festival
being brought to South Africa. Our Facebook likes jumped over 100 people in the last week and our Twitter followers also jumped up in numbers. Most asked me to bring the festival back next year.
And, we will return. Towards the end of our run in South Africa, potential sponsors for next year’s festival approached us. No commitments yet, but the interest is strong. So, on that note, I can confidently state that we will be back in February 2014. We will add Cape Town to the mix along with more initiatives. NYC PictureStart Film Festival Visits South Africa will be bigger and better.
I left South Africa with such great pride in the people. Thanks Potch! Thanks Joburg! Thanks to the filmmakers for their great work!
NYC here we come: June 2 – 6, 2013. Get ready to watch some great films from all over the world and particularly from South Africa.
More pics from the event: