There are two facts that are undisputed in Mpumalanga and about the province.
Fact#1 Mpumalanga, with its scenic beauty and postcard landscapes does not have an office that can hold accountable anyone wanting to exploit its beauty for financial gain. This means that any Tom, Piet and Zodwa can pack their filming equipment in a combi rented at OR Tambo Airpot, go to the Blyde River Canyon, film for a week, while sleeping in tents, pack the canned reels and fly to Europe not through Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (connecting in Jozi), but directly out of OR.

They can get to Europe, distort the facts about God's Window, then sell the film back to us with French subtitles. This can be done without informing the powers that be or them laying rules for the wealthy exploiter. Part of Fact #1 is that you can't do half the above in Cape Town, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal without paying a certain amount or employing locals. Actually you can't do it anywhere in the world - but Mpumalanga. No ways. During the filming of Blood Diamond, a building at Victoria Street in Cape Town, owned by Centre for the Book was used for a single scene of the flick. Filming lasted for three days and the producers ended up parting with approximately R100 000 for using the facility. Using 'a fixed facility' not a human being, while a local extra told Kasiekulture last week he was paid R100 for taking part in Catch A Fire as an extra, filming for the whole cold Witbank day in a dam. Insulting heh?
If you tried guerilla filming in regulated zones you'll soon find yourself in a situation whereby you are forced to buy milk at eMsinga for you and your crew's breakfast, uphuthu at Pietermaritzburg for your lunch and red meat at Howick for your dinner. Cape Town is even more regulated since you can't just hire a chopper, film Tafelberg and package it into your advert selling parachutes without the Film Commission holding you to account. The issue here is that you can't just shoot films in a province without hiring locals as unionised and well paid extras, bit part actors, camera operators, drivers, security guards, cleaners, caterers and runners. You can't always order your McDonalds from a mall in Fourways and get them couriered to set without supporting the Chisanyama, Chickendust and curios shops in the bundus. This is how it is supposed to be, this is how it's done in Gauteng, Cape Town and KZN even though they don't have equally scenic locations to sell.
Question is; why could anybody just do it in Mpumalanga without answering to anyone. Answer; because some comrade will not approve the establishment of something s/he can not materially benefit from. S/he can not give a green light for the creation of an office so technical he can not successfully recommend the deployment of his/her cousin, nephew or sister. Someone is holding the development agenda of the whole province hostage because of his/her selfish greed.
Fact#2. A proposal for the establishment of a film office for the whole of Mpumalanga was presented last year on the 2nd of October at 09:02 and addressed to pontsho@nel.mpu.gov.za and pontsho@mpg.co.za. The proposal for a meeting to interrogate the establishment was received, according to the Mail Administrator at webmail, but no correspondence followed. Pontsho did not respond to the proposal for a meeting. No acknowledgement of receipt, only clips in newspapers about how the department was going to send individuals to the Los Angeles Film Festival to study how to set up such an office. Shame, one can forsee unnecessary expenditure, or a comrade dying to see the States.
The proposal, which the first paragraph of its contents was;
"We, the abovementioned group are hereby requesting a formal business meeting with your office to make a presentation on the following;
1. A Proposal on the establishment of the Mpumalanga Film Office, an initiative that will bring millions of rands into the province and create hundreds of jobs while at the same time transferring much needed skills to the youth of this province. We call this part of the proposed meeting The 2nd Gold Rush - Mpumalanga Through the lens of the camera.".

The full proposal was not that explicit about what needed to be done but was outlining the benefits likely to emanate from such an office for the hollistic growth of the province
When told about the idea having been pitched one bureaucrat asked, "Would you mind if your idea was taken by the department then put to tender and it results in you losing the bid even though the idea was yours?". The answer he got was, "No, because we are currently making money out of whatever activity we are involved in and are not that desperate. Our intention is for the office to be set and for local talent to benefit. Even if we lose it, it won't matter as long as the office will be there, competent and marketing the province while ensuring the circulation of the dollar in the province". Then he asked further, "Do you know that if it's put to open tender you might lose it?" The response, "This is a highly specialised institution and there's no way we will lose it to a local company, and we believe local procurement is one of the key stipulations of any government procurement policy". To the uninitiated, generally, a Film Office is an agency of government, a Section 21 company and not a part and parcel or Directorate of the Department of Arts.
Then, when another bureaucrate at Arts and Culture was called and requested to furnish the proposers with email addresses of key people, including Member of the Executive Council Nomsa Mtsweni and her Head of Department, he said that those addresses can not be given because "the MEC will still refer you to the Chief Director or to Communications, those addresses you can have". When told that the letter will be dispatched to all of them including the Chief Director he insisted that only one person should receive the letter. The proposal was sent and it's been quite.
Then a question was asked to one of the managers at Mbombela Municipality which, according to the proposal was going to benefit in the form of an annual week long film festival, corporate sponsors, gay and lesbian film festival, Mpumalanga International Film Awards and cultural activities meant to co-incide with the week-long event; why would the folks at Provincial government display apathy to such a brilliant concept?
Look, the guys were prepared to conduct film workshops in Mpumalanga schools, organise tertiary bursaries for short film competition winners and even bring local film premieres to the province, with all the benefits of celebrities, hotel bookings, car rentals, restaurant customers, tourists, booming film industry and exposing the province.
The guy from Mbombela responded, "they are not going to approve any idea coming from people they don't know or not known to the guys at KaMkholo or from whom they cannot extort kickbacks". You know, that sucked. 'The guys at KaMkholo' refers to the African National Congress provincial top brass. It was puzzling, if the comrades can hold a development agenda hostage because an individual who listened to President Thabo Mbeki that any service not currently rendered must be solicited, is not known to them? In which capacity? ANC member? Inner-circle crony or belong to the same faction? Who the fuck are they or who the fuck do they think they are? Government?
Maybe the bunch was not known indeed. However the attraction should be that they are young and black. A journalist who attended the premiere of Catch A Fire last week commented that one bureaucrat from Arts and Culture told him that Mpumalanga does not have capable people who can set up and run the institution and that they (DASC) are currently in discussions with National Film and Video Foundation about its establishement. Sorry comrade, point of correction; NFVF is a funding agency, not a consultancy.
Even predominantly rural Limpopo will have an office before Mpumalanga, that is if Trade and Investment Limpopo's Saul Molobi's brainchild gets born instead of being aborted. It looks like it will be born because it's past twelve weeks, unless a miscarriage happens.

Is Mpumalanga that brain drained? Maybe one needs to review some of the individuals who pitched the proposal for a meeting. They called themselves Izithombe Bioscope Concepts and were made of some the following people;

1. Goodenough Mashego is a published poet/ journalist/ scriptwriter and novelist who has written for a variety of South African magazines and newspapers amongst them City Press, Leadership, INSIG, DRUM, Sundayworld, Black Business Quarterly (BBQ), Y, etc. He currently freelances and has written extensively for Mpumalanga News. He was the Contributing Editor of the now discontinued Bohlabela News, the newsletter for the municipality. He has done Public Relations Consulting for the Limpopo Provincial Government (Premier's Office, Departments of Tourism, Transport and Treasury) through a Johannesburg based communications company called The Corporate Communications Agency (CCA). He is currently based in Mpumalanga where he writes film scripts, poems and perspective articles. He runs his own media company.
2. Lucky 'Shaft' Moropane is an award winning film director of the M-Net New Directions series screenplay Idia (Ivory Mask). He won the Durban International Film Festival Best Short Film award two years ago and his student film Small Street is one of the few to be screened by the public broadcaster as a commercial venture. He is a BA Honours degree graduate of the famed AFDA film school where he majored in Directing. He has since directed tens of advertisements, music videos, short films and most recently thirteen episodes of the SABC1 drama Tsha-Tsha. He also directed the first IsiSwati variety show Ses'khona. He has just finished filming a forthcoming series for SABC called Plein Street with James Ngcobo as an ANC Chief Whip. He is a successful young filmmaker for whom home is Bushbuckridge. He is currently based in Johannesburg.
3. Ntobeko Dlamini has worked on numerous film projects as a Director of Photography (DOP) or what is called a cinematographer. He has worked very closely with Moropane on many projects and he is being credited for having brought Tsha-Tsha from oblivion into the mainstream through his intelligent camera work. He has done many music videos and many other projects for SABC. He is also a graduate of AFDA and holds a BA Honours degree in film, majoring in Cinematography. He is a a citizen of Swaziland, which makes his SiSwati as pure as any spoken in the province. His ambition is to have as many films and dramas as possible produced in local languages and shot on scenic locations he has spotted through his DOP eye in the province.
4. Moyahabo Phosa is a Mpumalanga resident who graduated from AFDA Film School with a BA Degree in Production. She went to the same school around the same time with Moropane and Dlamini.
This is the Untold Story of how Mpumalanga does not have a Film Office, how an international film was shot two weeks ago at Graskop, funded by the French and starring no one from the province. It wouldn't be surprising if nobody at Government knows that such a multimillion activity took place under their noses. A documentary was shot in this provinces two years ago, starring six Mpumalanga residents, it was filmed at Shatale, Nelspruit, KwaNdebele, Matsamo Cultural Village and Masakeng but nobody initiatived a local premiere. What's wrong?
Suggestion; the government must just put the bid for Mpumalanga Film Office to tender and invite interested parties to pitch, no patronage, no connection and let's see if this province will not create employment for all the Mncedisi Shabangus and Ayanda Mbulis who are still waiting to be discovered.

* Attempts were made to contact the son of Mpumalanga, Mncedisi Shabangu who works for the Market Theatre in Jozi, Kasiekulture was told that he's rehearsing for Can Themba's The Suit. No attempt was made to contact the people at government because their story is known. What do you make of people who came up with an arts festival that has got nothing to do with the province but is named MACFest? People who come up with awards to honour everyone but Shabangu, an award winning director and actor remains unhonoured. A decision was made that you be the one who contact them at 013 766 5200 and not Kasiekulture because it has no green barcoded ID and cannot vote.

* If you have strong comments about the article and its contents send your petition to pontsho@nel.mpu.gov.za or pontsho@mpg.co.za (these are the adresses given to the patriots who wanted to see the province flourish). Or send your beef to us we'll publish it and invite the guys to read your concern.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear Commentator

Kasiekulture encourages you to leave a comment and sensitize others about it. However due to spammers filling this box with useless rhetoric that has nothing to do with our posts we have now decided that to comment you have to go to our Facebook Page titled THE Kasiekulture BLOG. We will not authorise any comments. Apologies for the inconvenience.