Johannesburg - The department of trade and industry has partnered with film organisation Sisters Working in Film and Television (Swift) to send a delegation of 20 South African female filmmakers to the Berlin International Film Festival.
The delegates include Aliki Saragas, a Johannesburg-based filmmaker and photographer whose first documentary feature film Strike A Rock won numerous awards.
Another member of the delegation is Godisamang Khunou, owner of Mogale Pictures.
The Pan-African and pro-feminism production company’s projects include the Black Women and Sex mini documentary series.
Swift chairperson Sara Blecher told City Press the organisation was excited about the festival, which she described as an opportunity for female filmmakers to have their work seen and attract foreign investment.
Blecher said when the organisation was selecting the women who would make up the delegation, they had to strike a balance between experienced and budding filmmakers.
“The women changed the nature of the delegation. It feels like a sisterhood.
“I have gone to festivals with men and they weren’t as supportive and cooperative as women,” said Blecher.
Another delegate, BonAppetit Films owner Kate D’Hotman, said they are advocating for women to have greater access in the industry.
“And more so women of colour so they can transform the industry and promote diversity. Women don’t get the opportunity to create films unless they do it themselves.
“We started a WhatsApp group where anyone who has a gig that requires filmmakers can contact us,” she said.
Swift is also working to combat sexual harassment in the industry.
“We all have at least one instance of sexual harassment we can refer to.
“After being exposed to this reality, we formulated a policy and code of conduct to protect women in the industry,” said D’Hotman.
She said she was once told by men in the industry that they don’t hire women directors because they are too emotional.
The delegation is excited about showcasing some of their work at the festival.
“The plan is to network because everybody is starting to build relationships and test the waters,” said the filmmaker.
Swift will also host a panel discussion at the festival.
D’Hotman said Swift’s partnership with the department of trade and industry could help women filmmakers attract government’s attention and raise funds in an industry that finds it difficult to get financial backing for projects.
On Saturday, Blecher told City Press: “Most of us got on a plane on Wednesday and arrived in Berlin to the news that we had a new president. I think that renewed the delegation’s energy.
“It’s quite extraordinary that last year, the top two box office hits were made and written by women and told their stories.”