In a sign that the South African government is starting to take the local film industry seriously, the government's Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) new film division held a briefing last week for over 100 producers, directors, exhibitors and broadcasters in Johannesburg.

The newly created division - Media and Motion Pictures - is headed by Sam Bhembe who outlined funding opportunities for delegates.

He said that the IDC invests solely in projects and not in companies, funding up to 50% of a film's budget with a minimum investment of $87,000 (Rand1m).

Bhembe said: "If we provide a co-ordinated plan we can explore government incentives and demonstrate the potential of the film and TV industry to play a bigger role in the GDP."

Their mandate, however, restricts them from investing in products that shoot outside South Africa.

Also at the briefing, Steven Sack, Chief Director of Cultural Development and Institutional Governance reprimanded members of the industry for being disorganised, saying:

"All our attempts to engage with the film sector have led to fractious encounters with participants tearing at each other's throats. At a conference last year I said we could give you guys money and you didn't seem to be interested!"

Sack is responsible for presenting to Government suggestions for funding cultural production. He identified an amount of over $11.3m (Rand130m) that could be available to film and TV and said the Department of Labour would put in even more if there were training schemes attached to projects.