It’s Finally Here: African Stories Stimulating the Creative Economy with the Joburg Film Festival 2019

Joburg Film Festival was established as an independent platform with a focus on African narratives. Running from 19 – 24 November 2019; the festival acts as a platform to showcase and praise excellence in film both locally and internationally. Brought to the public in collaboration with MultiChoice, handpicked films selected from more than 16 countries will be screened at the event. In tandem with these aims, the film festival’s mission is to attract a wider audience to the cinematic arts with a keen focus on accessibility and youth inspired initiatives. Simultaneously the work of the Joburg Film Festival stimulates our budding creative economy as they invest in local talent and voices. Timothy Mangwedi shares, “We see the film festival as a critical catalyst for social cohesion, showcasing a special collection of films that celebrate Africa’s beauty, people, creativity and reflect the continent’s bold spirit and talent.”

To inspire support from the youth and act as a catalyst for the enjoyment of cinema, the festival produced the Joburg Film Festival Film Club, in collaboration with Until Until ZA. This initiative, according to  Ndumiso Buthelezi of Until Until ZA, acts as a middle ground between cinephiles and the Joburg Film festival. Joburg Film Festival Film Club events were held in the lead up to the event, enticing filmgoers to attend the festival. Venues for these screenings included the historic Constitution Hill.

The festival is the only one on the African content which features specially curated content selected by a panel of experts led by the respected filmmaker, Pedro Pimenta. This becomes a specific statement when considering Jozi as the base of the country’s television and film industry. Titles to be screened at the 6-night festival include Bloodlight and Bami, a cinematic expression of the life of Grace Jones, as well as Amazing Grace a live concert of Aretha Franklin and Sprinter, featuring executive producers Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Image still from Sprinter 

The selection of venues for the screenings create a dynamic map of Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela Square and Sandton City act as the hub for this year’s festival with other venues spreading the expanse of the city including: The Bioscope in Maboneng, Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank and Kings Cinema in Alexandra. Having multiple venues in the city allows for accessibility and inclusivity.

The extended programme of the festival is divided into three focus points including the Film Programme, the Industry Programme and the Youth and Audience Development Programme. There are many exciting elements of the festival. Including the critics of the films, which consists of a panel of 5 leading industry experts such as the South African novelist Zakes Mda. As a part of the Industry Programme, current best practice trends will be shared amongst industry professionals and new comers, made possible by DISCOP. Other elements include masters classes and panel discussions revolving around the art of filmmaking. Whereas the Youth Development Programme creates an opportunity for young filmmakers to meet industry professionals. The Film Programme has all the elements associated with big film screenings; red carpets, premieres, screenings, starts and an awards ceremony.

This year’s festival comes together as an amalgamation of worlds. The glamour of film stars, the cosmopolitanism of curated films, the homeliness of African stories as well as strategies to welcome young voices into the sphere of film and television. The efforts of this year’s festival cannot be understated. With aspirations of having all of the elements associated with film festivals, special care was however taken to not only stimulate our economy but to be inclusive to wider audiences as well as pay tribute to our wonderful city. In its 3rd instalment this year, it looks to be the best festival yet.

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