The International Tourism Film Festival: Why the African tourism industry needs film festivals

2019-04-12 10:07 - Gabi Zietsman
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A trip down a river in a canoe. The thrill of spotting a whale in the ocean. The connection you make while on a cultural experience.

These things can be difficult to capture in words or photos - a video however has powerful transportive powers that will make the viewer want to experience it in real life.

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We live in an increasingly visual world, and future tourists really want to get a sense of a place before they spend their hard-earned cash on a long-distance trip. 

Tourism operators, boards and agencies are increasingly relying on video to market their products and destinations to the world, but the craft doesn't always get the recognition it deserves.

For a first in South Africa, the International Tourism Film Festival Africa launched at the World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town, aiming to provide a platform for tourism brands and film producers to showcase not only their work but also the destinations that they hold so dear.

The festival originally hails from Portugal, founded in 2008 by the country's film commission, and "its mission is to support the competitiveness of destinations, tourism products and services by stimulating creativity and innovation and honouring the best projects and give them greater national and international visibility".

Last year South Africa took home three prizes for a Portuguese promotional film, an environmental surfer film called Sea Change, and a promotional video about the N12 Treasure Route.

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The Africa section of the film will be managed by the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme (STPP) and its director Caroline Ungersbock, who has been representing SA at the international version and was a judge on last year's panel.   

"Film festivals create critical links between tourists and the communities they visit, providing future tourism development opportunities within those communities."

"The film itself becomes a catalyst for tourism to the areas the film was produced," adds Ungersbock, stating that the film industry uses the same tourism facilities when shooting in a country, and this film festival is the perfect marriage between the two.

The festival will take place in the Northern Cape's Richmond, Loxton and Victoria West, where the films will be shown at the art deco cinema Apollo Theatre.

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How to enter

The film festival is looking for short films that showcase South Africa and Africa as tourist destinations and expose the continent to international film markets. It can be commercials, advertising campaigns, promotional films, animation films, short and long form documentaries, television programmes and web series. 

It will be open for entries on 15 May on the  STTP website and will close on 15 August. The festival itself will take place from 20 - 24 November 2019, and will also provide a great opportunity to network with other players in the industry, locally and internationally.

These are some of the documentary categories:

  • Environment and Ecology
  • Regions
  • Biodiversity Preservation
  • Nature and Wildlife
  • Transport and Eco Mobility
  • Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

Unlike the Portugal one, where winners receive a colourful rooster trophy, the African trophies will be hand-carved calabashes, promoting the continent's special flair. 

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