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South Africa’s Film Industry Ditches the Old Way of Doing Things

South Africa’s film industry is the oldest in Africa and one of the oldest in the world, having started in 1896, soon after the Lumiere brothers’ famous first commercial film screening in 1895. The industry is one of the more established and commercially viable on the continent. It doesn’t produce as many films as Nigeria’s bustling industry, but offers a steady trickle of crowd pleasers. The industry is normally worth around R3.5 billion to the economy annually. In 2019, 22 South African films received a local cinema release, claiming only R60 million of the R1.2 billion taken at a local box office dominated by Hollywood fare. The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, put a halt to this. Enter the micro-budget film. An emerging trend has been the production of content remotely. Several collaborative productions were initiated almost immediately after the country’s lockdown started. South African filmmakers have been exploring independent distribution models for a while.