nullFollowing a four day program (July 16-20) that included project pitching, industry masterclasses, seminars and workshops, and networking, the 6th Durban FilmMart (DFM) ended yesterday with the announcement of the market awards and grants ceremony.

“It has been an extremely productive and pleasing market this year, with over 900 official business meetings documented in the Finance Forum.” said Toni Monty, Head of the Durban Film Office, which partners with the DIFF to present the DFM. “The Durban FilmMart is considered one of Africa’s most important film finance platforms: this is borne out of the fact that we have been able to track the progress of many of the projects which had their beginnings at the market which have successfully made it to the screen. This year the Durban International Film Festival was able to screen six DFM alumni films, a concrete indication that this model is working well.”

This year 8 awards were given by an evaluation panel made up of local and international film industry experts:

– The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program award for a documentary film project that demonstrates potential for strong storytelling craft, artistic use of visual language, originality, feasibility, and relevance went to "The Other Half of The African Sky" directed and produced by Tapiwa Chipfupa which received a cash award of $7000 for further development.

– Afridocs, the broadcast stream that sees African and other international documentaries screened across 49 countries of sub-Saharan Africa on a weekly basis, awarded a €3000 grant for the documentary project, "Truck Mama," directed and produced by Zipporah Nyaruri and co-directed by Peggy Mbiyu.

– The CineMart Award, sponsored by the co-production market of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, went to "Sunflowers Behind a Dirty Fence," directed by Simon Mukali and produced by Nathan Magoola. The award comes with an opportunity to attend the Rotterdam Lab – a five-day training and networking event bringing together producers from all over the world.

– The International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA), which is awarded to the most promising documentary project at the DFM, went to "Truck Mama," directed and produced by Zipporah Nyaruri and co-directed by Peggy Mbiyu. The award comes with an opportunity to attend the  IDFA Forum – the largest and most influential meeting place for documentary filmmakers, producers, commissioning editors, funds, private financiers and other documentary stakeholders in Europe, from November 23 to 25.

– The New Cinema Network awarded "Riot Waif," directed by Zinaid Meeran and produced by Jean Meeran, with an opportunity to attend the 10th edition NCN in Rome, where the producer/director will be able to present the project to international film companies.

– Produire au Sud of Festival des 3 Continents (Nantes), awarded "Inkabi: The Hitman," directed by Norman Maake and produced by Peter Pohorsky, with an opportunity to attend its developmental workshop program, PAS, where they will be given tools, expertise, and opportunities to develop European networks.

– The Restless Pitch awarded as a one-on-one consultation with Restless Talent Management co-founder Tendeka Matatu, went to two projects: "Brace Yourself" by Thati Peele, and "Lucky" by Jacobus van Heerden. The company will provide development services such as image-building and positioning, project packaging, PR, and advice on film sales, distribution and promotion. Restless Talent Management also gave special mention to Mark Waambui for "Heterophobe," for its edgy and challenging concept.

– Durban’s Videovision Entertainment, awarded to the “Best South African Film Project,” went to "Inkabi: The Hit Man,” directed by Norman Maake and produced by Peter Pohorsky. The award guarantees the film’s release once it is completed. The prize includes marketing and distribution support from Videovision Entertainment.

Five of the above projects are from filmmakers that are either Durban- or Berlin Talents alumni – the industry development program of the Berlin International Film Festival, with which DIFF is a partner: Tapiwa Chipfupa – Talents Durban (2013) and Talents Berlin (2015); Zipporah Nyaruri – Talents Berlin and Talents Durban (2011); and Peggy Mbiyu – Talents Durban (2011) and Talents Berlin (2012); Nathan Magoola – Talents Durban (2013) and Talents Berlin (2012); And Jacobus van Heerden Talents Durban (2013).

“We had a very strong line up of projects this year,” said Monty. “We were pleased with the diverse topics and themes that have been explored in both the fiction and documentary sections, and with strong representation of filmmakers collaborating across the continent. The DFM has been placing emphasis on the telling of African narratives, and in doing so hope to continue to discover new African projects.”

 “We have seen numerous filmmakers pitching projects at the DFM over the past 6 years go from strength to strength. They are engaging more confidently with the many financiers, funders, sales and distribution agents, showing a maturing of the market.”