On Special Assignment
this week:Episode Title
Tuesday, 28 April 2009Time:
First there was Hollywood, then Bollywood and Nollywood and now there's Vendawood.
The film industry in South Africa is struggling to establish itself as a serious business. There are difficulties in accessing funds and filmmakers find it hard to attract audiences.
According to the National Film and Video Foundation, only 8 to 10 films are produced each year, with an average budget of 9 million rand. Yet, at the box office they barely rake in one million rand.
But in South Africa’s northernmost province, behind the baobabs, Venda filmmakers are making movies guerilla style.
Special Assignment producers Godknows Nare and Johann Abrahams travelled to the hills of Venda to the world’s most unlikely film sets to see how it is done.
They meet filmmaker Khathutshelo Mamphodo, who lives in Lwamondo village near Thohoyandou. His comedies about ordinary life in a Venda village have become favourites around the country. The budgets are tiny, and the actors are friends and family members, but the results are astonishingly entertaining.
Khathutshelo’s first film, Tshovhilingana made in 2006, is a comedy which tells the story of an unemployed man with too many wives. Khathutshelo has since produced three follow-ups using the same characters.
Another filmmaker, Tshidino Ndou, is an IT consultant in Sandton, but every weekend he sets off for his home village Tshakhuma, to work on his latest film. All their films are made for the DVD market and they usually break even within the first month of release.
These filmmakers say that, although they are currently targeting a niche market, they hope to reach a wider audience because they are telling universal stories which everyone can relate to.
Is this the way to go for South African filmmakers?