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