South Africa's Rand Merchant Bank, The National Film & Video Foundation, broadcaster SABC2, and distributor Ster-Kinekor have partnered with Jeremy Nathan's & Joel Phiri's Dv8 films to produce and distribute four digital feature films per year over three years.
Dv8, a feature film initiative originally launched at the end of 2001, will develop, produce and market twelve South African digital feature films over the next three years.
In an industry that is notorious for fragmentation and working in isolation, the teaming of some of the biggest players from diverse sectors has been welcomed by the local film industry.
Eddie Mbalo, CEO of the National Film & Video Foundation, underscored the significance of the Dv8 initiative "Dv8 is a paradigm shift in the way that the South African film industry operates. It is a landmark evolution. It is an example of the public-private partnership model that the NFVF believes is crucial in creating an economically dynamic sector. The collaboration between the NFVF, SABC and Ster-Kinekor, and the business sector is what we have been striving for. Having already secured a distribution platform, in the form of the national broadcaster and a major theatrical distributor, it is a critical boon and a model that should feature more regularly in South African co-productions".
The Dv8 Launch also marked the first time in which the new deputy minister of arts & culture, science & technology, Buyelwa Sonjica, publicly addressed the local film industry and announced that government has injected an additional $4.5m (Rand 35m) to the medium term budget for local feature film production.
The first two films to be produced in 2003 have already been selected: Good Mourning Max, a comedy about a young man who comes from a rural area to Johannesburg, becomes entangled with urban gangsters and ends up as a professional mourner at funerals, is written and directed by Teddy Mattera.
The second is Forgiveness, an odyssey about a man who travels to a desolate landscape seeking absolution from his past, written by Greg Latter and directed by commercials director, Ian Gabriel.
Two more projects have been selected for development. They are: Harry Moonstar, a comedy about two grizzly pensioners, a Jew and a Muslim, duelling it out at a delirious old-age home, and P-I-G, a dark comedy about a nine-year old Indian girl's obsession for pigs.