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Durban FilmMart launches in July

New offshoot of Durban Film Festival

A new film marker is set to launch in late July in South Africa.

The Durban FilmMart, which takes place during the Durban International Film Festival (July 22- Aug. 1) is a joint project of the Durban Film Office and festival organizers and aims to allow African filmmakers to pitch financiers, while networking with producers from around the world.

"We expect (the FilmMart) to be a place for financiers to locate fundable African projects and encourage collaboration between filmmakers from different African countries," says DFO chief Toni Monty. "Through this forum, we're hoping to redress the current scarcity of film production on this continent."

Peter Rorvik, director of the Center for Creative Arts, says he hopes the FilmMart will become a feeder source for established co-production markets across the globe.

"(The FilmMart) promises to be a further catalyst for growth in the region by becoming one of the key events of the African film industry," Rorvik says. "It should become a focal point to interface with global players and stimulate industry activity."

The market will co-exist with a festival that this year plans to screen more than 200 international films, with a focus on African productions.

Screenings will take place throughout Durban, including struggling township areas in which cinemas are often nonexistent. Organizers hope the township screenings will give underprivileged residents exposure to films while offering visitors a firsthand look at the struggles of South Africa's disadvantaged.

"Alongside the key players of the South African film industry, we expect a number of international filmmakers and professionals to attend," festival manager Nashen Moodley says. "We're looking to ensure that the festival is an ideal networking site around African cinema. In addition, this year DIFF will present a Swedish focus that includes a number of Swedish films and filmmakers."

Festival highlights already include director Claire Denis' "White Material," Elia Suleiman's "The Time That Remains" and Brillante Mendoza's "Lola"-- with all three directors set to attend.

The festival will also offer an extensive seminar and workshop programming featuring local and international filmmakers.