South African treaty a Telefilm priority

While the possibility of an official coproduction treaty with South Africa has met with keen interest from many Canadian producers, Telefilm Canada says it hasn’t heard from South Africa’s minister of arts and culture since before Christmas.

‘We have made contact with the right people there,’ says Telefilm senior analyst Johanne St-Arnault, ‘and we did receive a letter from them last summer, but they said it was a decision they would not rush.’

Amos and Alfons Adetuyi of Toronto’s Inner City Films helped put a push on the negotiations with South Africa while in the country producing their series Ekhaya: A Family Chronicle (formerly titled Not Yet Uhuru), a coproduction with the South African Broadcasting Corporation which is now airing on cbc. Because cbc stipulations called for an official treaty coproduction, the brothers met with the South African government to put together a ‘mini ad hoc treaty’ for the project.

‘The government liked our project creatively, and we were working with a largely black production team there and in Canada,’ says Alfons Adetuyi. ‘We also incorporated training into the production happening there.’

The brothers met with officials in Pretoria and were granted a letter giving the project the status needed by cavco and the cbc. The producers were assured that their project will be given status as the first official coproduction when and if the treaty is signed.

Telefilm’s St-Arnault says the political turnover in South Africa is the most probable cause of the delay: ‘With the shift in government, everything has to be shifted.’ She adds that getting the treaty signed is one of Telefilm’s priorities this year and may entail going there to meet with officials personally.

‘We’ve had a lot of requests about South Africa from Canadian producers,’ says St-Arnault. ‘The country offers a lot of different locations and there are interesting possibilities involving three-way coproductions between Canada, the u.k. and South Africa.’