Monday, September 22, 2008

Address by Eddie Mbalo (NFVF) at the Intergovernmental Indaba on Film

Address by CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), Eddie Mbalo at the Intergovernmental Indaba on Film held on Tuesday, 2 September 2008 at the CSIR International Convention Centre. The Director General of the Department of Arts & Culture Mr Themba Wakashe would have given some contextual matter to whet our appetite about the role of the state in film development.

As a matter of highlights these are some the points he would have made:

1. Film as vehicle for Social cohesion
2. Film as means of Public Diplomacy
3. Reflection of South Africa to itself and to the world
4. The recordal of a people’s history

The Director General of the Department of Trade and Industry Mr Tshediso Matona spoke of the following:

1. The film sector needing to harvest the work it has done to date and taking the industry forward in leaps
2. The public sector’s needs to take the lead and to find ways to add value to the industry
3. Frameworks that need to be created in order to provide the space for self-discovery which in turn will lead to economic development
4. Fragmentation in the industry, which has to addressed and overcome in order to create an effective environment for self-discovery

Of course all these inputs are made against the discussion paper as well as the introductory remarks that were made by the Facilitator, Mr. Thami Nxasana.

With all these inputs what is left for me to say?

* Firstly, I would like to give the background reason for this Indaba
* Secondly, I would like to engage all of us here about the Human Agency Notion of the Film Sector
* Thirdly, I would like to talk about what Value Charters are in general and the NFVF Value Charter in particular as the longstanding NFVF position.
* Finally I would like to register the importance of our collective input as the actors to address the challenges face by South Africa.

Background reason for this Indaba

First and foremost, the National Film and Video Foundation Act No. 73 of 1997, guides us on how the NFVF relates to different government departments, in this case the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Education as it relates to the issue of the National Film School. The Cultural Laws Amendment Act which amended the NFVF Act also speaks to the permission the NFVF should seek from the Ministers of Arts and Culture and of Trade and Industry in relation to the establishment of a separate legal entity that will invest in film. The NFVF Act also guides us on how the NFVF relates to provinces, “…interact with the Member of the Executive as appointed by the Premier…”

The good thing about this is that, it does not necessarily mention which MEC, and that could mean, Arts and Culture, Economic Development or even Education. In relation to other government departments, the Value Charter guides us as per protocols on co-operative governance enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic.

As it has been mentioned in the discussion paper, we are faced with the challenge of addressing the problem of fragmentation of the Film Sector. Fragmentations occur along these lines:

* Industry to industry
* State to State
* State to Industry

To quote Mr Nxasana, as he deals with the Strategic Challenges for the film Sector in a political economy, he writes, “… the correction of industry fragmentation and skews is achieved through state intervention. This calls upon the involved organs of the state to determine the scope of fragmentation, put in place appropriate corrective measures and appropriate roles to specific state organs. State bureaucracy on its own cannot motivate itself to act appropriately, therefore political championing is necessary”.

He continues to write, “Since the new democratic dispensation, a number of state level interventions have been undertaken such as to perform and transform the institutional infrastructure and to bring in new institutional instruments. The issue for this Indaba is to have a sense of what impact did these interventions have on dealing with fragmentations and skews, what is the new ground that still needs to be covered. Action in this regard can only occur if there could be understanding and explanations for the causes of the state of fragmentation and skews that still exist and the new emergent ones”.

During the Indaba 2005 it was deliberated to deal with all these fragmentations. Since then the following has happened:

* The Industry to industry fragmentation was addressed by the formation of the industry umbrella body, The South African Screen Federation (SASFED). The federation will play a critical advocacy role and bring about policy and programme changes by way of improving the sector. The establishment of the federation aligns our sector to the matured sectors of the economy in which professional bodies play a critical role to shape the sectors.
* The address of the state-to-state fragmentation is what we are here to do. At the Indaba 2005, whilst the Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo Jordan challenged the industry to organise itself, the industry lamented the fact that the state and its institutions were not speaking with one voice, something that impedes industry development as state institutions competing amongst each other with programmes that are not aligned.
* Subsequently, and hopefully in the next Indaba we shall address the issue of state to Industry fragmentation.

The Human Agency Notion of the Film Sector

The economy of any country is made up of a number of sectors of which the film sector is one. The sectors compete with one another to bring about prosperity and the quality of life to the citizens. In our country, national cabinet identified cultural industries and particularly film as a growth area. In this regard the film sector competes with many other sectors as identified in the Microeconomic Reform Strategy (MRS) and later Asgisa, etc.

The sector itself is made up of certain things and people or the community of practice that must arrange these things in an optimum way.

Things are institutions such as the private and public sector, policies/legislations, instruments such as incentive schemes, funds and programmes.

The people are what provide the spirit, visioning, leadership and management of things. It is the people within the sector who interact with society at large to make a particular sector attractive.

We, the people gathered here today are that community of people who are playing the film side of the economic derby.

I often hear people criticise Bafana Bafana or the Proteas for a poor show, even criticise individual players as the liability to the national squads. As we gather here we are the Bafana Bafana or the Proteas of the film game. Are we a winning team? If the general notion is that the sector is fragmented does this not refer to the fact that we are not a good side? This is what we should address, very painstakingly, if we shall ever emerge to be the winning side.

The Integrative Nature of the Charters

Throughout the high tide of the struggle for liberation, South Africa was guided by the most noble of documents to emerge out of the unity of our people to remove the Apartheid system, at the Congress of the People in Kliptown, the Freedom Charter. That denoted the integrative nature of Charters. It provides a sense of direction and commitment.

It is this understanding that led the NFVF to formulate the Value Charter. The Value Charter positioned the film sector in terms of the Microeconomic Reform Framework that was approved by the national cabinet in the year 2002. It covered the capital formation strategy, the human capital development strategy, sectoral co-ordination strategy, Sectoral Information System and the critical programmes to achieve these strategies.

The written word by itself cannot go too far without the ownership by us the fraternity that constitute the human side of the sector.

Our Collective Input as the Actors to address the challenges faced by South Africa.

Again we always hear about the challenges faced by South Africa, global competitiveness, job creation, poverty alleviation etc. What wins do we want to post to the scorecard of successes? These are the questions that we should address.

Thank you.
Eddie Mbalo CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF)

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