Following a visit to Cannes, South Africa's deputy minister of arts and culture has pledged comprehensive support and priority focus for the local film industry.

Minister Sonjica said: "Seeing and feeling the vibrant energy at the South African pavilion at Cannes crystallised much of what I have been reading and hearing about. We are poised to take advantage of the interest foreign countries are taking in our industry. I was impressed by what I saw and heard and am committed to spearheading the way to make the South African film industry a priority growth and development focus in the cultural industries".

Cannes saw the largest-ever delegation of South African film industry players this year, with a 30-strong delegation attending the event.

Eddie Mbalo, CEO of the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) said "Seeing private sector players like the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) meeting with producers and other industry players at Cannes signals a much needed openness to unifying as a sector"

A number of co-production treaties with various European countries were discussed during Cannes. A co-production treaty with Italy is in draft stage, while treaties with Ireland and the UK are in the pipeline.

The final draft of the Italian co-production treaty is set to be signed at Sithengi (the annual South African film and television market held in Cape Town) in November this year.

A delegation of UK filmmakers will also attend Sithengi to conduct workshops and network with South African industry players.

Among the deals reported at Cannes this year, production companies like Video Vision, The Imaginarium and Synergy secured product deals. Co-directors of The Sky In Her Eyes Madoda Ncayiyana and Ouida Smit, were awarded the Djibril Diop Mambety prize for emerging Africa/Diaspora filmmakers. The competition forms part of the Critic's Week.

The South African presence at Cannes was co-ordinated in association with the Department of Arts and Culture, the South African embassy and the South African Tourism office in France. South African Ambassador to France, Ms Thuthukile Skweyiya and minister of social development Mr Zola Skweyiya also visited the Festival in support of the South African delegation.