Tag Archives: Academy Awards

SA Tourism media extravagance in New York criticised as inappropriate!

Le Bernardin private roomIt was interesting to read a critical article about the perceived extravagance and inappropriateness of a recent media lunch hosted by SA Tourism and Marthinus van Schalkwyk, our Minister of Tourism, in New York.

The article was posted on eTurboNews, but the writer is not identified.  Looking at the editorial panel of the online newsletter, one can assume it was written by Dr Elinor Garely, who is the only journalist for the newsletter based in New York.

Dr Garely writes that she had previously visited South Africa ‘many years’ ago, and Cape Town in particular, whilst she was working on her doctoral dissertation in international business.   Her overriding impression was the contradiction she saw then:While the hotels were lovely, the restaurants for dining and tasting South African Continue reading →

Cape Film Commission shoots Minister Winde down re film funding!

The Cape Film Commission, promoting filmmaking in Cape Town and surrounds and assisting production companies with permits for shoots, has publicly criticised Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, for no longer supporting the Film Commission, and for handing over the R 4 million to Wesgro, the Western Cape Trade, Industry and Tourism development agency, reports the Cape Times.

Three months ago Minister Winde announced that monies would be allocated to Wesgro for the promotion of the Western Cape’s film industry. In making the announcement, he promised that Wesgro would ‘aggressively’ market the Western Cape as a film destination, ‘to encourage as many international block-busters and commercials to be funded in the Western Cape’, would ‘facilitate access’ to film rebates (from the DTI one assumes), encourage local ‘local content film making’, grow local film audiences, promote the Cape Town Film Studios for film and TV production, and collaborate with other local film-related bodies.

Cape Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie also criticised the Minister’s support of ‘Search for Sugar Man’, produced by a foreign filmmaker, but shot locally, and having been nominated for and winning the Academy Awards’ Oscar for Best Documentary.  He is quoted as saying that the Minister is ‘promoting a foreign film rather than using public money to support the commission in its promotion of the local (film) industry‘.

The Cape Film Commission took 25 local filmmakers to the Berlin film festival and the European film market in February.  This month it is taking 24 filmmakers to the Tribeca film festival in New York, and 20 filmmakers will be taken to Cannes in May.  The Cape Film Commission is considering legal action against the Minister, for breaching a promise of funding until 2015.  The Minister has not commented due to the legal action being taken by the Cape Film Commission.

While we have the highest regard for Minister Winde, we cannot understand why he is placing so much faith in Wesgro. In the 11 months since taking over Tourism marketing of the Western Cape from Cape Town Routes Unlimited, there has been zero visible action and result.  For an economy very badly hit by Seasonality both in Winter and during the early summer months, every marketing action possible is essential to help the tourism and hospitality industry survive the forthcoming winter!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

South Africa wins and loses an Oscar in one week! Will it affect Tourism?

It is ironic that the Valentine’s Day shooting of model Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend and Olympic and Paralympic hero Oscar Pistorius should have happened so close to the Academy Awards’ Oscar presentations, for which M-Net had contracted Pistorius as its Oscar presentation broadcast marketing icon. Thankfully, South Africa received fame at the Oscars, for the Documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, which was largely filmed in Cape Town, and tells the story of Capetonian Sugar Segerman’s search for forgotten American singer Rodriguez, being wonderful free marketing for our city to all who have seen the movie.  The question that the Pistorius case raises is what damage it is doing to tourism to South Africa generally, and to Cape Town specifically, with the Oscar Pistorius story making world headlines, in such leading publications as Bunte and TIME.

Bunte is one of Germany’s largest cirulation magazines, with a readership of 4 million, and featured the Pistorius story on the front cover of the 21 February issue. The front cover caption murder due to jealousy’ links to the article in the magazine, which names TV series ‘Tropika Island of Treasure’ co-star and singer Mario Oglo as the main focus of Pistorius’ jealousy.  It quotes extensively from the City Press reporting, which subsequently was found to be sensationalist and inaccurate, relating the (inaccurate) cricket bat attack on the victim. The magazine sensationally claims that the couple were the Beckhams of South Africa’, and that hardly a society event was not attended by the glamour couple – yet the couple had only been dating for three months, and were first seen at an event in November last year.  Crime statistics are quoted as 17000 break-ins per year, implying that wealthy South Africans have to barricade themselves in security villages like Silver Woods in Pretoria, in which Pistorius lived.  Pistorius’ Olympics performance is highlighted, and one senses that the magazine cannot come to terms with the sporting hero and the tragic occurrence on the fatal Valentine’s Day.  Parallels are drawn to the OJ Simpson case, and the defence team is likened to a marketing campaign‘.  Overall, the German Bunte reader should be unlikely to cancel his or her plans to come on holiday to the Cape, a relief as Germany appears to be the largest source of tourism to the Cape in this summer season. Fortunately not one of our German guests have spontaneously raised the issue with us  in the past two weeks.

TIME has the world’s largest weekly magazine circulation, with 25 million readers, of which 20 million live in the USA, according to Wikipedia.  Its latest issue tells the story of Pistorius’ rise to sporting fame, and his fall since Valentine’s Day, not too dissimilar to any other reporting of the tragic events.  What is damaging however is that four paragraphs of the article are dedicated to Cape Town (and the Western Cape), its tourism appeal sounding positive, but in the context of the tragic event it is severely damaging to our city:

And from New Year’s Day to Jan. 7 she posted regularly from a vacation she was taking in and around the city where she was born, Cape Town, with a few friends and the man she called “my boo,” who on Twitter goes by @OscarPistorius. On Jan. 3 she posted a picture of the sunrise taken from the balcony of the $680-a-night presidential suite at a spa hotel in Hermanus, 90 minutes southeast of Cape Town. Later that day she tweeted, “The chauffeurs in Cape Town hey. Nice!” and attached a picture of Pistorius driving an Aston Martin. On Jan. 4, name-checking Pistorius, her best friend, a private banker and a luxury-car importer who was sourcing a McLaren sports car for Pistorius, she tweeted about a lunch the five were sharing at Cape Town’s newest hip hangout. “Shimmy Beach Club!” she wrote. “Tooooo much food!!! Amazing holiday :)”‘

This is followed by Cape Town’s ‘dark side’, and this is when the article becomes really damaging for Cape Town:

To understand pistorius (sic) and Steenkamp, to understand South Africa, it helps to know the place where the couple chose to spend their holiday. Cape Town has arguably the most beautiful geographical feature of any city in the world: Table Mountain, a kilometer-high, almost perfectly flat block of 300 million-year-old sandstone and granite that changes from gray to blue to black in the golden light that bathes the bottom of the world. From Table Mountain, the city radiates out in easy scatterings across the olive, woody slopes as they plunge into the sea. Its central neighborhoods are a sybarite’s paradise of open-fronted cafés and pioneering gastronomy, forest walks and vineyards. Commuters strap surfboards to their cars to catch a wave on the way home. The business of the place is media: fashion magazines, art studios, p.r., advertising, movies and TV. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy just wrapped the new Mad Max movie. Action-movie director Michael Bay is shooting Black Sails, a TV prequel to Treasure Island.

But while Cape Town’s center accounts for half its footprint, it is home to only a fraction of its population. About 2 million of Cape Town’s 3.5 million people live to the east in tin and wood shacks and social housing built on the collection of estuary dunes and baking sand flats called the Cape Flats. Most of those Capetonians are black. Class in Cape Town is demarcated by altitude: the farther you are from the mountain, the lower, poorer and blacker you are. Cape Town’s beautiful, affluent center is merely the salubrious end of the wide spectrum that describes South Africa’s culture and its defining national trait: aside from the Seychelles, the Comoros Islands and Namibia, South Africa is the most inequitable country on earth.

This stark gradation helps explain South Africa’s raging violent crime (and why, contrary to legend, Cape Town actually has a higher murder rate than Johannesburg)’.

The balance of the five page article is focused on our country’s ‘violent crime‘, and traces this back to the Battle of Blood River, the Boers building a laager to protect themselves against the Zulus. Similarly whites live in security estates, in modern day laagers, the article relates.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Rainbow Nation barely exists, despite our country being the benchmark for ‘racial reconciliation’, and ultimately still ‘South Africans live apart’, the article concludes.  What makes for fascinating reading is the close to 1000 comments to the article, which is attacked by many loyal South Africans for factual inaccuracy, and supported by a handful of what could be ex-South Africans. Very few international readers appear to have commented.

Gratifying to find is the link by HuffPost Lifestyle UK, which evaluates the media frenzy relating to the Oscar Pistorius bail hearing, introducing the article as follows:‘…could be forgiven for thinking that South Africa is the new Wild West, full of gun-toting, trigger-happy outlaws’.  Its writer Amanda Willard defends our country, having visited ten times already, puts crime into context, shares that tourism is growing, and recommends that tourists continue visiting South Africa:So don’t be put off travelling to this incredible destination and don’t be fooled by the media reports. The bark of the newshound is worse than its bite‘.

SA Tourism, Wesgro, and Cape Town Tourism have a challenging task in communicating that what was a crime involving a couple in a private home is not a reflection of crime in South Africa.  It also needs to highlight that tourists visiting South Africa generally, and Cape Town specifically, will be safe.  The problem is that neither Cape Town Tourism nor Wesgro are doing any marketing at all, let alone damage control to address this tragedy which has keen international interest, a saga that will be guaranteed to fill news headlines for months to come!  Mary Tebje, Cape Town Tourism’s communications representative in the UK, has written to Southern African Tourism Update, calling for an objective and honest response to South Africa’s new status as a gun-toting country, which may reinforce what many potential tourists to our country are already thinking, and will deter them even more from coming on holiday.  Our current tourists will be our best spokespersons, in relating that their holidays were safe and most enjoyable!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town wins Best Documentary Feature Oscar for ‘Searching for Sugar Man’!

Cape Town’s tourism players are ecstatic about ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, the documentary filmed largely in Cape Town and documenting the search for ‘Seventies singer Sixto Rodriguez, winning the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards in the early hours of this morning.  This is the Oscar association with South Africa our country would far rather be known for and proud of!

Searching for Sugar Man’ tells the story of Capetonian Sugar Segerman’s search for ‘Seventies American rock star Rodriguez, who was more popular in South Africa than in any other country, and who ‘disappeared’.  Through an internet appeal, Segerman found Rodriguez and brought him back to South Africa for a series of concerts in the ‘Nineties.  Swedish film producer Malik Bendjelloul heard about the Rodriguez story from Segerman, and made a documentary, which won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival when it was launched last year.

The bulk of the film is shot in Cape Town, and shows off our City’s icons such as Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Camps Bay beach, and the scenic Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, with the Twelve Apostles as a backdrop.  Segerman’s record shop Mabu Vinyls off Kloof Street is also featured.

Not only has ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ won the film industry’s highest award, but it has also won the BAFTA for Best Documentary, and won the Special Jury Prize and Audience Award for best international documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, reports The Times.

‘Searching for Sugar Man’ tells the story of the revival of Sixto Rodriguez as a performer, having just completed his latest South African tour, whilst showing off our beautiful city to audiences around the world, especially after the latest Oscar accolade.

POSTSCRIPT: 25/2: Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde proudly sent out a media statement congratulating ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ in winning the Oscar, and to ‘Asad’, having been nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) : “Congratulations to the teams behind ‘Asad’ and ‘Searching for Sugarman’, you have done us very proud. Both films showcase the natural beauty of the Western Cape and will undoubtedly encourage international and local viewers to come and visit our Province. The film sector is a priority sector in the Western Cape’s economy. It generates R5 billion and creates an estimated 6,058 direct jobs and 2,502 indirect jobs. In the year ahead we will ramp up the support the sector receives. Last year, we announced that Wesgro, our Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency, will now take up the role of promoting Cape Town and the Western Cape as a film destination.” Minister Winde continued.

In improving the support for the Western Cape’s film sector, for the 2013/2014 financial year, Wesgro’s efforts in marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a film destination will include:

• Together with the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, facilitating access to national film rebates.
• Supporting commercial orientation of existing film makers.
• Exploring potential of developing local content film making.
• Developing local film audiences.
• Trade and investment missions in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry.
• Development of a film market within the provincial film festivals.
• Focused engagement with Cape Town Film Studios for investment purposes in the long film and TV productions.
• Hosting regular engagements with industry on key issues for the Western Cape in collaboration with the City of Cape Town, the Media, Information and Communications Technology SETA (MICT SETA), the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Minister Winde concluded: “Oscar Winner ‘Searching for Sugarman’ not only depicts the natural beauty of our City, it also tells the story of who we are as a people. The spirit with which South Africans have embraced Rodriguez was also shared with the foreign travellers who visited us during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We are a friendly, warm and welcoming nation. Our people are undoubtedly our biggest asset.”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town sweetens Oscar awards list!

One of the best accolades for Cape Town is the news that ‘Searching for Sugar Man‘ is one of five films nominated for the Academy Awards in the Documentary Feature category, and that ‘Asad‘ has been nominated for Short Film (Live Action).

Searching for Sugar Man’ tells the story of Capetonian Sugar Segerman’s search for Seventies American rock star Rodriguez, who was more popular in South Africa than in any other country, and who ‘disappeared’.  Through an internet appeal, Segerman found Rodriguez and brought him back to South Africa for a series of concerts in the Nineties.  Swedish film producer Malik Bendjelloul heard about the Rodriguez story from Segerman, and made a documentary, which won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival when it was launched last year.  Not only has the documentary been nominated for an Oscar, but it also has been named Best Documentary Feature in the Critics Choice Awards, according to 2Oceansvibe. The bulk of the film is shot in Cape Town, and shows off our City’s icons such as Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Camps Bay beach, and the scenic Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, with the Twelve Apostles as a backdrop.  Segerman’s record shop Mabu Vinyls off Kloof Street is also featured.  We are surprised by the word for word copying without acknowledgement to the source in the media statement by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, about the role Cape Town plays in the documentary, from our first blogpost about the documentary.  Cape Town Tourism ignored the local release of the documentary on the cinema circuit four months ago, despite its focus on Cape Town, proving how out of touch it is with news about our city!  One can safely speculate that Mrs Helmbold and her PR and  Communications Manager Skye Grove have not seen the film!

‘Asad’ was produced by Capetonian producer Rafiq Samsodien, states the media release from Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, and tells the tale of a boy who struggles to survive in war-torn Somalia. The film was shot in Paternoster, and used Cape Town residents.  The film has already won acclaim at the Austin Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Rhode island Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festival.

Just being included on the Academy Awards nominations list will boost cinema viewership of the two films, and therefore will promote brands Cape Town and Western Cape in the next two months.  It will also boost the Western Cape as a film destination, offering the services of producers, animators, directors, screenwriters, actors and cinematographers, said Minister Winde.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage