Durban-based director/producer Junaid Ahmed plans to use state funding to developing new creative talents from black-filmmakers in South Africa.

Ahmed’s Fineline Productions received slate funding this year from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), R6m for three years. The company will spend R1m per year for developing four features and R1m each year to produce one film from that development slate. The selection of projects will happen at the end of March.

Ahmed said: “I believe it is essential that young aspirant filmmakers are given every opportunity to develop their craft so that South African cinema is further enriched by these new visions and new voices.”

Acting CEO of the Durban Film Office Toni Monty said. “It will be exciting to observe how Junaid Ahmed will use his experience and expertise to enrich the lives of young emerging film-makers and in doing so, give back to his community through such an initiative.”

The projects will include adaptations of local novels.

Ahmed’s motivation for the project was based on his concern over the slow advancement of black film professionals; particularly screenplay writers, directors and producers in the film industry. An intensive-action plan was hatched by Ahmed and his team at addressing the root of the problem.  This involves selecting and grooming aspirant film-makers with “natural DNA and flair for the art of visual story-telling,” said Ahmed. Another key objective is to overcome the shortage of local stories by adapting novels written by black writers aimed at the big screen.

“We have identified a pool of writers who reflect a cross section of people from across South Africa- and their literary works are not only compelling stories but will also translate brilliantly to the big screen,” said Ahmed.

Ahmed is also working on his own film Stockholm, Zuzuland.