American cinema is obviously well represented in South Africa, with the USA supplying 177 of the 230 films released. However, with a total of 26 million admissions registered for a population of 48.5 million, this market shows considerable potential for progress.
Around ten French films hit South African screens each year, largely dominated by English-language productions, both minority and majority produced by France. These films attract around 500,000 spectators annually.
Unifrance has tested out a range of strategies over the past three years. In collaboration with audiovisual attachés posted in Pretoria, Unifrance gave its support to the 2007 Air France Film Festival in Johannesburg, as well as the 2008 Cape Winelands Film Festival in Stellenbosch (50 km from Cape Town). This year, the 30th Durban International Film Festival drew attention to French cinema, with a selection of 15 films screened. Despite the presence of only a limited French delegation, results for this event were highly positive. Two awards were presented to Welcome (Best Director for Philippe Lioret and Best Actor for Firat Ayverdi), while a successful preview screening of Anne Fontaine's Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) generated strong word of mouth publicity for the film.
Unifrance is also committed to pursuing its support schemes for South African distributors, offering distribution aid for French majority co-productions and French-language productions and providing travel assistance to French artists attending film releases. In order to boost the number of French films acquired in this market, the French Embassy and Unifrance have invited the four South African distributors Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro Films, VideoVision Entertainment, and Labia/Comart Films to the European Rendez-Vous to be held in Paris in January 2010.
Discussions are underway on a local level on the subject of the organization of a promotional event for French cinema to be held in Cape Town in 2011. The proposal will be studied in 2010 by a reconnaissance team. This project relies on significant support from Unifrance, including financial and logistic aid.