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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Out Of Africa

We Dutch are out of Africa after the lost final in the World Cup Soccer Championship in South Africa. The upside of this Championship is, that in a period of about four weeks, several tv-channels show a number of documentaries and films about Africa with contemporary stories and stunning landscapes.

To give you some examples:
  • The Constant Gardener (2005) with Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, was filmed in Kenya and is based on a story by John Le Carré. The background of the story is about the Western pharmaceutical industry in Africa. I really liked this story and I have a feeling it was an inspiration for the makers of Strike Back.
  • Taking the Flak (2009), tv series, filmed in Kenya, episode Big Beasts. I catched something about an eager African man who wants to present an newsitem for BBC and bribes the English team with sweats they run out of and therefore gets his item. 
  • Hotel Rwanda (2004), filmed in Gauteng Province, South Africa. This film is about the war between the Hutu´s and the Tutsi´s. A must see. 
In Holland, Strike Back is yet just for private viewing

However Strike Back is not about Africa, it´s filmed in South Africa for the locations. mostly in the Gauteng Province. And I can´t help but thinking that this British-South African collaboration is a positive way of encouraging a country to professionalize it´s film and television industry. As if. I found out through one documentary, that the standards in SA are very high already, and makers of South African tv-series don´t want to produce stigmatizing tv-series as made in the USA to avoid scapegoating sections of the population.

To give you an illustration, here some quotes from a speech (2004) at the opening of Gauteng Film Indaba:

"More than 70% of the filming and television industry in South Africa are based in Gauteng, mainly in Johannesburg. All of South Africa's television broadcasters are based in Johannesburg."

"Economic statistics have shown at all times that Gauteng is the economic powerhouse of South Africa and the continent. According to figures released by Statistics South Africa last year, the province recorded an average real economic growth rate of 5,3% in 2002. The GGP has been growing at an average of 3,1% over the period 1996 to 2002. Gauteng's contribution to South Africa's GDP during 2002 was 33,3%, the largest of all provinces."

"Gauteng is the most cosmopolitan province in South Africa. With its more than 9 million residents comprising a colourful variety of races, Gauteng can easily be regarded as a true sample of Africa's population and, to a large extent, the world's population."

"In this province there are diverse and some of the most spectacular locations for filming that can be found in the world. Our range of locations can easily offer filmmakers locations such as the African bush, industrial scenery, American and European settings. Key activities during the antiapartheid struggle took place in Gauteng."

"Some of the other things which make Gauteng very attractive to filmmakers and television production companies are:
  • Highly skilled workforce including technicians
  • World class facilities. These include well-established and equipped postproduction digital facilities as well as audio, graphics and animation houses
  • State of the art rental equipment
  • Highly developed infrastructure
  • Highly efficient service providers
  • Facilitators highly knowledgeable in the issues related to industry
  • Compatible time zone with Europe
  • Excellent weather, providing sunshine all year round and
  • Sites of struggle under apartheid."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4iTjavIkbk The Constant Gardener (2005) trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYwuXvA589A Hotel Rwanda (2004) trailer
RichardArmitageCentral, Strike Back, screencaps episode 3, Afghanistan

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