By Lucy Byram
Although the movie industry is still largely centered around Hollywood, the lower costs of digital technology has helped many budding film-makers find their feet and realize their own movie dreams.
And interestingly, South Africa is the perfect case study of a nation that has entered the movie arena with a string of initiatives that aim to take on the blockbusters and also give the indie film festivals a run for their money.
Such development are being mirrored all across the Rainbow Nation with many authors enjoying the benefits of self-publishing, as well as the many online games developers benefiting from the convenience of the new digital age.
For many years South Africa struggled with the evils of Apartheid that kept its fledgling film industry suffocated under international sanctions and lack of funding. But when the ANC came to power, the nation’s movie industry relished the newfound opportunities of exploring its past through the medium of film.
Hard-hitting films such as 2005’s Tsotsi dealt with life in Johannesburg’s slums and even won an Academy Award for best foreign language film. And despite movies such as U-Carmen eKhayelitsha providing exposure for the rarely-heard Xhosa language, it’s the country’s more Hollywood-focused offerings that have grabbed the headlines.
From Neill Blomkamp’s stylish sci-fi saga District 9 that made over $200 million worldwide, to Gauteng-native Charlize Theron’s exploits in Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s becoming clear that South Africa is quickly becoming a key location for many top movies. Other great South African treats to check out include the likes of Invictus that dealt with the dismantling of Apartheid and the nation’s joy in the Springboks winning the Rugby World Cup.
But despite these blockbuster successes, many South Africans would have been frustrated to find that the Rainbow Nation only narrowly missed out on giving James Bond’s Casino Royale adventures a home due to problems in securing film locations.
There’s an irony in this as South Africa is enjoying something of a gaming renaissance with sites like Springbok Casino providing handy slot machine tips alongside their massive range of table games that would definitely attract the likes of the English spy.
As a result of such frustrations, many South African filmmakers have taken actions into their own hands through the establishment of some internationally-renowned film festivals. Festivals such as the Jozi Film Festival provides a space for many South African film-makers to show their works to an appreciative homegrown audience.
And with even South African billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk making a cameo in Machete Kills, it looks like we can expect many more South African stars on our screens soon.