Andâ?¦ only two of the 19 contenders nominated for the Festivalâ??s top prize were females. Bring it back to South Africa, and very little is different.
Transformation in the film industry is needed
At the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) Indaba held last year, the then Arts and Culture Minister, Paul Mashatile mentioned the need to fast track transformation in the sector.
He, like those in the industry acknowledge that celebrated female directors are far and in between, and the awkward topic of gender imbalance in the film industry is still a reality, even with the various programmes intended for transformation.
Some women are making an impact
Despite this, powerful female directors continue to make strides and many of them, like Mandy Jacobson, are dominating in their spaces.
Jacobson is a South African multi Emmy Award winner and the Executive Producer of the African Oral History Archive – a multi-media heritage initiative by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation.
Her twenty year career in film includes an array of award winning films such as Facing the Truth about South Africaâ??s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Calling the Ghosts, which won two Emmy Awards and was instrumental in the recognition of rape as a prosecutable war crime. This documentary, which was centred on the war in former Yugoslavia, was also featured on CNN , NBC Dateline and CBS Sixty Minutes.
Asked about her views on transformation in the industry, Jacobson doesnâ??t mince her words
â??I fully support projects such as The Africa by Women project which has resulted in 10 short films that deal with different facets of life in the country 20 years after democracy and aim to give female directors much needed opportunities.â?
As someone who has been a member of the USA National Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences Chair, Jorens Ivens Jury and Amsterdam International Documentary Festival(1999), Jacobson knows that these struggles are universal, as female directors all over the world are facing similar challenges. This however hasnâ??t deterred her from her craft.
Passionate about telling stories that explore truth and justice
â??My passion has been to make stories not typically covered by the mass media, stories that explore the passion and politics of different forms of truth-telling and justice-seeking.â? For this, she received an Achievement Award from the South African Minister of Arts and Culture in 2001.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Jacobson and her team of filmmakers, have over the past four years, researched and recorded over 150 interviews with key figures that tell the story of South Africaâ??s modern democracy.
â??For the Ichikowitz Family Foundationâ??s, Celebrating Twenty Years of Democracy initiative, we have produced a 4 part series called Rainbow Makers which will be shown weekly every Sunday on SABC 2 from the 14 of September to the 5th of October 2014.â?
One of the signature documentaries from this series is the award winning PLOT FOR PEACE which has recently returned to South Africa, after enjoying a successful award-winning film festival circuit in Europe. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Pik Botha, Mathews Phosa and Wynand du Toit were all in attendance at the exclusive launch held in Hyde Park, Johannesburg this year.
The documentary has already scooped over eight international awards and has shown in commercial theatres in the UK, Spain and France.
Jacobson attributes her survival in this male dominated industry to sheer determination to tell, what she describes as â??pressing stories.â?
â??We need to make the most of our limited opportunities and tell our stories because we canâ??t expect anyone else to tell our stories for us.â?