The Film O’Clock International Festival is a new event that will take place in five countries simultaneously, with South Africa being one of them. Logo: Supplied
The Film O’Clock International Festival is a new event that will take place in five countries simultaneously, with South Africa being one of them. Logo: Supplied

Cape Town to host new film festival with countries in same time zone

By Sam Spiller Time of article published Jan 31, 2021

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CAPE Town is set to host a new film festival that promotes films produced in the same time zone.

The Film O’Clock International Festival is expected to take place from February 27 to March 3.

The event will take place simultaneously in South Africa, Greece, Egypt, Romania and Lithuania over the five day period and will be a hybrid mix of in-person and online screenings, depending on Covid-19 restrictions at that time.

The Film O’Clock International Festival is a new event that will take place in five countries simultaneously, with South Africa being one of them. Logo: Supplied

The event is a passion project for festival director and Romanian filmmaker Mirona Radu, with it originally planned to promote projects from the east European country.

“The work in progress title for the festival was Tales of the World,” Radu explained. “But I realised it is too general, it should be something more. I am obsessed and totally aware of the time passing, and for me time represents the most valuable resource that I have, and I started to build something on this pillar: to enjoy the time by watching films together, at precise time, no matter where we are on Earth.”

The five participating countries are located on the geographical meridian of 25 degrees east longitude.

Radu admitted it was difficult to match the prestige of traditional film festivals with an online alternative. The announcement comes just as the Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious festivals in the industry, announced its delay until July this year.

“Even if now it is difficult to imagine we will come back to what we knew, I am sure we will return. We need each other, we need closeness. And the films are a good opportunity to bring people together.

“In the next editions we won't run from online, it is a needed medium. But I think it is important to focus on physical events, and online to offer more access to people from different areas to the same quality programme and discussions with special guests.”

Radu hoped to add more participating countries in the future editions of the festival.

The festival is structured to feature both feature-length and short films reviewed and selected by delegations from each country. South African director and writer Dian Weys leads the local delegation.

“I’m hoping to expose Egypt, Greece, Lithuania and Romania to the new and exciting young voices currently making short films and who will, eventually, be at the forefront of South Africa’s film industry,” said Weys.

“There have been talks that our industry is currently experiencing a new wave. Even though there is not a singular style or theme across our films (yet), there is definitely a desire to produce more local content that aims at international markets and audiences.”

Weys himself is currently in post-production for his next short film titled Plaashuis, which is expected to be completed next month.

Local filmmaker Dian Weys will lead the South African delegation at the new Film O’Clock International Festival, scheduled to take place from February 27 to March 3. Photo: Supplied

“Productions are still facing a lot of hurdles, however, with, for instance, on-set Covid protocols and difficulties surrounding insurance.

“Many productions simply don’t want to take the chance. I still think that this will be an exciting year, however, because so much content is made under a lot of strain. By producing content with skeleton crews and under difficult circumstances, artists are pushed to go beyond their ability. I think this might actually count in the production’s favour.”

The event will feature a competition where up to 15 short films will compete. The winners can walk away with cash prizes of up to 1 200 Euros (R22 000). The event will also feature a line-up of classic films from each country to showcase their cinematic history, as well as workshops and Q&A sessions with industry experts and filmmakers.

Actor and producer Keenan Arrison, who works with Weys as community liaison, said that despite Covid-19 forcing the festival to limit numbers in terms of screenings and submissions, there was still interest from the local industry.

“In terms of the selection, it’s allowing short filmmakers to have a space. If they have existing films or if they want to make films, they could submit. There wasn’t a prerequisite to what could be submitted. We want filmmakers to come forward and share their pieces,” said Arrison.

Arrison added: “Our general theme is to see how these films from these various countries are similar, how we can maybe start a conversation about collaboration between these countries and finding the similarities in filmmaking and storytelling.”

Film producer and actor Keenan Arrison is community liaison for the South African delegation at the Film O’Clock International Festival. Photo: Supplied

The final list of films selected for the Film O’Clock International Festival will be released on February 8.

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