Page 8



Sustainable screenings shining from SA A sunshine driven media initiative addressing social and environmental challenges through short films has taken off from Cape Town. Sunshine Cinema is a mobile cinema that converts solar power to social impact. It also facilitates workshops and how-to videos through community engagement. “Our aim is to connect change makers to wider networks, amplifying the voices of grassroots active citizens,” says Sydelle Willow Smith, researcher at Sunshine Cinema. “We celebrate local stories, educating, uplifting, inspiring and connecting people.” Made up of a small team of storytellers, filmmakers and researchers who are passionate about creating an alternative distribution platform. “We believe in making our media screenings a soapbox for local voices to engage. We believe media can be used as a tool to activate social dialogue, which is why we also run media training workshops with active citizens at our screenings” explains Smith. In addition, they are shaking up the local media industry. “Our production company Makhulu is apprenticeship based. Our core team is comprised of passionate individuals, many who are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds that gain on the job training.” They run a scholarship partnership with SAE film school in Woodstock, Cape Town. A Sunshine

6 | SCREENAFRICA | August 2016

“Our content includes extremely compelling and original stories that would otherwise go unnoticed without AfroLandTV. Our filmmakers won’t have to depend on third party distribution companies to showcase their content to audiences that are not relatable to African content.” A modernised website was launched in May 2016 with the greatest challenge the company faced that of creating a user friendly website interface. Their web developing team is based in Zimbabwe, called Ennovate Systems, which is headed by Valentine Chonyera. “We have faced numerous challenges bringing this vision to optimal life,” says Maponga. Contained by continuous research into web development, web applications and analytics. Marketing posed another challenge, “Being that this project is currently self-funded I’ve had to really break down my target audience (millennials age 18 to 34) and use the funding diligently,” says Maponga. AfroLandTV has an audience based predominantly in Africa, and a majority in South Africa. Furthermore content is a challenge. “We have a set plan to increase our catalogue through local and international film festivals,” explains Maponga. He says that AfroLandTV is distinguished by their quality indie catalogue featuring content on the continent. The SABC’s 90 per cent local content quota makes them

AfroLandTVs biggest competitor. AfroLandTV aims to increase subscription numbers to 20 000 by the end of the year and expect to be creating original content by summer 2017. “We plan to work with local film producers to make this happen. By the end of 2017 we are aiming to have big studio films on our platform. Since we’re independent and self-funded at the moment, we’re looking for relevant partnerships with other organisations to form synergies for expansion,” explains Maponga. “The plan is for continuous growth and interface improvements on our website platform and mobile app.” Support for the steaming service has been received from bloggers and independent media outlets in South Africa who have brought in a good amount of following. AfroLandTV have partnered with the South African digital broadcasting company StreamTV who launched a streaming channel android app at the end of July. AfroLandTV will be hosted on this app as a channel. “We have reached thousands of people and we are continuously building a strong following. Social media has been our biggest audience driver so we’ll continue feeding the flame,” says Maponga. He plans to open a branch in South Africa. “This will make it easier to work with local filmmakers and productions,” he adds. – Cera-Jane Catton

SOLAR POWER TO SOCIAL IMPACT: Sunshine Cinema indoor screening Cinema full scholarship is awarded each year to an up-and-coming filmmaker. The 2016 Sunshine Cinema/SAE Scholarship recipient was Lufefe ‘Fez’ Figlan. They run a pop-up cinema with their screen, sound and projector all using solar power and an inverter from their partners at MLT Power, a Cape Town solar manufacturer. “We screen to up to 200 people at a time. We also have a smaller cinema system that fits into a small

Free streaming start up for Africa On 19 August 2015, the dot com AfroLandTV was bought by Zimbabwe born Michael Maponga. AfroLandTV is a South African online streaming TV channel dedicated to showcasing paramount African content. It features independent South African and African films, shows and documentaries. “The vision and mission is to grow the African film industry via online television and expand to creating quality original content,” says Maponga. Since the age of 10, Maponga has lived in Dallas, USA and he is a professional actor with more than 20 credits to his name, including starring alongside Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin. The concept of AfroLandTV came from a friend of Maponga’s, Ron Valderrama, the CEO of Stream Now Pro, a US streaming platform. “As an actor I’ve always wanted to give my talent back to my native land. Through AfroLandTV I aspire to give African filmmakers a platform to showcase their content. Most major distribution companies such as Netflix, Hulu etc, focus on westernised

pelican case, with micro projector, wireless speakers and a mini solar power and inverter which we use for smaller scale events for up to 50 viewers.” During the International Aids Conference, held in Durban between 19 and 22 July 2016, Sunshine Cinema hosted a series of free film screenings in surrounding townships. Supported by the Open Society Foundations Public Health Program the films provided perspectives

of youths from South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania facing the challenges of access to care and social stigmas. These events provided a platform for engagement and dialogue within communities that otherwise would not have access to the conference and challenged community members to consider how they may impact the fight against HIV and AIDS. In 2016 Sunshine Cinema were the official satellite screening partner of The Encounters Documentary Film Festival hosting screenings in Khayelitsha and Langa. Since 2013 they have screened to more than 6000 direct audience members in shipping containers, community halls, schools and various other pop up cinema locations. “We plan to continue building our alternative distribution platform,” says Smith. They too are partners of the Zambia Festival of Action, the fifth annual festival took place in July in Livingstone. Run by Greenpop the festival is a learning project that teaches sustainability and active citizenship as they plant thousands of trees at schools and community farms in an area where deforestation is an issue. Sunshine Cinema plan to partner with an international film festival focusing on African cinema to ensure more African cinema is seen on the continent. – Cera-Jane Catton

PARAMOUNT AFRICAN CONTENT: AfroLandTV founder Michael Maponga content. I want to give filmmakers in Africa a platform that builds a buzz around and centralises on South African and African content,” explains Maponga.

Profile for Sun Circle Publishers

Screen Africa August 2016  

Screen Africa August 2016