The Durban International Film Festival, scheduled to take place from 20-30 July 2023, is not only a platform for showcasing exceptional films but also a stepping stone for aspiring filmmakers looking to enhance their skills. In a bid to support and empower emerging talents, the festival has unveiled its development project, Isiphethu, which will feature a series of enriching events and workshops throughout July. Among the highlights are an isiZulu Scriptwriting Workshop, the International Student Film Festival, Isiphethu on Tour community screenings, and an Industry Workshop Programme.

The Isiphethu workshop programme, to be held both at the KZNSA in Durban and online, aims to foster crucial discussions on topics essential to the success of filmmakers. These workshops will delve into funding access, budgeting, representation, and Intellectual Property, offering invaluable insights to participants. Through the Isiphethu project, the Durban International Film Festival is actively encouraging the empowerment of filmmakers in the KwaZulu-Natal region.

One of the headline events, “Funding for Film Projects: A Guide to Accessing Funds in SA as Emerging Filmmakers,” will tackle the challenges of securing funding and provide comprehensive information on available funds for entry-level, semi-skilled, and skilled filmmakers. Access to funding is a recurring concern for emerging talents globally, and this workshop aims to shed light on the funding landscape and opportunities in South Africa.

Another important topic to be discussed is representation in the film industry. The seminar “Representation Matters in Film: Tackling Diversity and Gender Parity in Filmmaking” will provide a platform for directors, producers, and writers to explore the significance of gender diversity and inclusion, both in front of and behind the camera. Recognizing the vital role that diversity plays in storytelling, this seminar aims to inspire and promote equal opportunities for all voices in the industry.

To further enrich the dialogue surrounding critical aspects of the industry, the workshop “Intellectual Property (IP) for Creators” will delve into various types of Intellectual Property, the importance of IP protection, commercialization strategies, and potential careers in IP. This session aims to equip filmmakers with the knowledge and tools to safeguard their creative work and navigate the business side of the industry.

For those aspiring to be in front of the camera, “The Role of Casting Agents in the Television and Film Industry” will provide valuable insights into how talent can collaborate with casting agents or managers to showcase their skills and secure roles in various productions.

Photography’s significance in film production will also be explored in a session titled “The Significance of Photography in Film Production,” featuring the expertise and experiences of US photographer Lauren Barkume. This session will highlight the power of visual storytelling and the crucial role that photography plays in creating compelling narratives on the silver screen.

Recognizing the importance of sound in film, The National Film and Video Foundation, in collaboration with Sheer Publishing Africa, will present a “Masterclass on Music Composition and Scoring.” This masterclass will provide aspiring composers and musicians with insights into the art of creating captivating soundtracks that enhance the cinematic experience.

In addition to the workshop programme, the Isiphethu on Tour initiative will bring the festival experience to various venues through community screenings. Short films will be showcased at venues including the Wushwini Pan Africa Centre in Inanda, K-Cap in KwaMashu, Cap Studios in Hillcrest, Denis Hurley Centre in Durban Central, and Luthuli Museum in Groutville. This outreach effort aims to extend the reach of the festival and make it more accessible to diverse audiences throughout the region.

Furthermore, the International Student Film Festival, a highlight of the Isiphethu programme, will screen 31 short films created by students from around the world. These screenings will be free of charge and can be enjoyed at the KZNSA, providing a platform for emerging talents to showcase their creativity and storytelling skills on an international stage.

The Durban International Film Festival’s Isiphethu Programme promises an exciting lineup of industry seminars, workshops, and student screenings, creating opportunities for aspiring filmmakers to learn, grow, and make meaningful connections within the industry. By focusing on key areas such as funding access, representation, intellectual property, and artistic elements like photography and music, the festival aims to equip emerging talents with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the ever-evolving world of filmmaking.

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