As the packed South Africa industry programme came to an end on Wednesday, board member of the Documentary Filmmakers Association of South Africa, Sylvia Vollenhoven, spoke about ongoing collaboration with the festival.
The detailed programme, organised for the second year by Esther Van Driesum for 20+ South African documentarians, consisted of industry talks and sessions, a day observing the Forum in action, and a trip to EYE. Core to the experience was a series of Doc Dialogues during which filmmakers with a documentary in development could discuss their projects in one-on-one meetings with established colleagues from the industry. The aim of these Doc Dialogues was to explore the creative and strategic ideas around the films. “You get to talk to people one-on-one, not as a pressurised pitch … but just to explore and to have a different eye on your film,” explained Vollenhoven.
“The relationship between South African filmmakers and IDFA goes back a long time,” she continued. “What is interesting is that, although South Africa’s film history is old – we have had a film industry since film began basically – the documentary film history is very new, and has been developed basically since the start of democracy in 1994 by government grants and initiatives, and by different relationships between the public broadcaster and the independent filmmakers. So as a result there are new and interesting things coming up, which we are hoping IDFA and platforms like this can help develop and support.”
“What we are beginning to discuss as a result of what Esther has done is how we can make IDFA work even better for us in a way that is innovative,” Vollenhoven added. “How do we, in parallel with IDFA, continue this very good initiative and take it to the next level?”
The South African documentary Strike a Rock, directed by Aliki Saragas, was selected for IDFA Panorama. This film charts the grim conflict between women from a mining community and the mine owners. Meanwhile, Simon Wood and Meghna Singh’s Container was selected for Forum. The project is described as a “multi-sensory journey positioned at the intersection of virtual reality and installation art. In a surreal maze of shipping containers, you witness the truth behind the ‘invisibilized’.”