WFC in South Africa story

Since WFC began working in South Africa in May 2008, it has run nine programmes offering over 200 training opportunities to young people from Cape Town’s most populous townships. Following on from a 2010 World Cup project, 8 participants were selected to form a production team, which they called Mopix. Working out of an office in Khayelitsha township, these young people have produced a portfolio of films including series’ for the local community TV, an info-ad for Pearson Foundation, a behind the scenes for South African feature film, Black South Easter, as well as 96 short, 1min films for a mobile phone social network, Mxit and a series for South African national boradcaster, eTV, the equivalent to the UK’s Channel 4. [read more…]



WFC in South Africa story continues…

In 2008 WFC began work in South Africa in the province of Free State with the creative arts charity Dramatic Need, teaching 86 children of agricultural workers to make films on cell phones about issues that affected their lives. Following on from this, WFC taught their first workshop in Cape Town with New Africa Theatre Association, arranged and funded by WFC Patron, Gerald Fox. Through working with NATA, WFC was introduced to Simcelile ‘Simi’ Kalimashe, a young man who lives in the heart of one of Cape Town’s most populous township, Khayelitsha. Simi gave us access to untapped youth networks that existed in the heart of this and surrounding townships.

In 2009 WFC followed up this programme with a project teaching Documentary filmmaking to an expanded group of township youth. The programme was taught by veteran documentary filmmaker, Jo Menell (dir. Mandela, 1996) and one of the films produced was selected for the highly competitive Pocket Film Festival in Paris. During this trip, WFC Founder, Alice Bragg, trained a number of young film and drama professionals to become WFC Tutors. In September 2009, WFC ran its first workshops with Amy Biehl Foundation Trust, a youth engagement programme with a 15 year track-record of success in providing after-school activities for young residents of Cape Town’s most dangerous communities. WFC were proud to work with Amy Biehl, who take thousands of young people off the streets and away from risk every year.

In 2010 WFC delivered a Sports and News Journalism workshop to 35 young people to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The young film makers produced over 80 videos reporting on events surrounding the World Cup from inside their communities. They contributed to a weekly programme on Cape Town Community TV, and to the bi-weekly BBC Online programme “Extra Time”. Their work was featured on prominent blogs such as Nokia’s N series blog, MobilizedTV, and and distributed internationally via WFC’s mobile site and through social networks YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

By this time WFC has consolidated the relationship with Simi Kalimashe and after giving him fifty Rands, the equivalent of £5, to buy data to access the internet, Simi drove the grass-roots presence that was key to making the 2010 World Cup project such a success. The project was run in partnership once again, with Amy Biehl Foundation Trust.

Following on from this project, eight participants were selected to form a training production team, working out of an office in the notorious Khayelitsha township. Guided and supported by WFC, the team began by making 28min programmes for the local community TV channel, Cape Town TV, and selling mobile downloads on South Africa’s most popular mobile phone social networking site, Mxit, with a subscriber base to their channel of over 150,000 young people across South Africa.

In 2011 WFC’s work was recognised by the Cape Film Commission (South Africa’s regional equivalent to the Arts Council) who sponsored a training programme that took fourteen Xhosa-speaking Cape Town residents aged between 18 and 26 and trained them, along with the existing team, to make a 12-part series, Uyfun’undazi? In English, ‘Do You Want To Know Me?’

The series called takes a common township statistic and gives it a human face by profiling an individual living in those circumstances. Stories include those of Nondoda, an artist with no arms and no legs making a living through his inspiring and original painting; and Maynadi, leading a child-headed household after she and her brother were orphaned by AIDS. Maynadi recently won the ‘Miss Khayelitsha’ beauty content and will be entered into ‘Miss South Africa’ later this year. The series has already attracted the attention of South African production companies and networks and WFC is currently in negotiations to license it. As a direct result of the series, the popular magazine Glamour South Africa approached WFC expressing an interest in featuring Mayandi in their April 2012 edition. This is the first time a township resident has been profiled in Glamour, and WFC was able to facilitate the interview, working with Mayandi and the Glamour team to make it happen.

Training participant, Loyiso Ngqwebo, had this to say about the programme:

“The World Film Collective experience showed me that everything can be done and everybody can do it if you put your mind to it. And that we the youth can make it possible to change lives in our community through telling stories”

Here are some more highlights of our work in South Africa:

  • 11 students have received work placement with local South African film companies
  • Two graduates from WFC training have been employed as WFC tutors
  • One student from WFC training in South Africa was awarded a place at Big Fish Film School in Johannesburg. Another two have been encouraged to apply next year.
  • One WFC graduate was given a work placement with a Johannesburg advertising agency, ‘Re:Public’
  • A WFC student film was selected for and screened at the prestigious Pocket Film Festival, Paris
  • Three WFC students were commissioned to make a film screened at the MobileActive conference, Johannesburg
  • WFC is in first stage negotiations to provide weekly content to South African terrestrial networks

“U have found me wanting to be in film school and cnt afford the expensive fees and Im raised by a widow mother who is a domestic worker. But I got the training for free at WFC. U showed me how to do short films and documentaries and u didnt leave us. WFC introduced us to the best experienced film makers in SA and also to the students that are in the film schools we dream of attending. The youth in my community have been motivated to be part of this. WFC saved me from crime and drugs.”

Email from training participant and tutor, Simcelile Kalimashe, Khayelitsha, Cape Town

In 2012 WFC partnered with the HIV awareness charity, Grassroot Soccer, to deliver a three-month training programme that used film to disseminate HIV prevention messages. WFC placed the Grassroot curriculum at the core of a film programme, taking one HIV prevention message at a time and building a film module around it. The young participants were drawn from the Khayelitsha community and 25 were recruited to take part. The programme included modules on marketing and distributing the films. As a result, WFC was approached by Cape Town community TV to make a series of films leading up to World AIDS Day in December. WFC approached NOKIA to sponsor the films and, having secured that sponsorship, six of the most talented students were selected to form the production crew that would be supported as they made these films. Local filmmaker, Layla Swart, worked with the young people and guided them to produce a raft of short films that were broadcast in the month leading up to World AIDS Day 2012.

During the process of making these films, it became clear to the young filmmakers that the major obstacle in HIV prevention was the fear of getting tested. As a result, many people were unaware if they or their partner were HIV positive and this contributed significantly to the spread of the virus. As a result, they mounted a campaign, ‘Get Tested, Know Your Status’ and after World AIDS day, the team were given a platform on mobile phone special network, Mxit, to run their campaign in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. The slogan became ‘Love Your Partner, Get Tested’. The Mxit APP attracted thousands of views and comments, some from young people suffering rom HIV and others giving advice to their peers on how to overcome the fear of getting tested. WFC would welcome the chance to expand this project further by running mobile screenings of the films combined with discussions in public areas and institutions around the Cape Town townships. This would be done in partnership with a mobile testing unit so audience members could get tested on site if they chose to do so.

2013 was a break-through year for World Film Collective in South Africa. After long negotiations WFC were commissioned to produce 26 short films for national broadcaster, eTV. Each of the five minute films profiled a different trend in the township, from the latest music events, drinks, fashion – these films combine to give an entirely fresh and positive perspective on a community that is often represented negatively on their behalf. As these films were made by young people who live in the townships and they were also produced from an office in the township, the authenticity and soul of the place shines through. This was a very valuable commission to the WFC South Africa team, not just in monetary terms but also in boosting their confidence.

Following delivery of those films in early 2014, WFC SA was commissioned to cover a conference in Cape Town hosted by Bertha Foundation. The team made four films, each dealing with a different element of the conference. As a follow up to that, three members o the team were given bursaries to study business. They began those courses this year.

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