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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Hollywood arrives in Cape Town
By Richard Hamilton
BBC, Cape Town

Plans for the Dreamworld studio
The new studios are primarily aimed at international companies
Plans to build the biggest film studios in Africa near Cape Town have been given the go-ahead.

The Hollywood-style studios will cost over $60m and are due to open in 2005.

It is hoped they will transform the film industry in South Africa where low budget movies have struggled to compete with those of international film makers.

Mike McCarthy, one of the directors of the Dreamworld Film City consortium, drove me round the site for the new studios.

They will be built near one of Cape Town's poorest townships - Khayaleitsha - and it is hoped the 200 acre site will revitalise the area and create around 8,000 jobs.

Raw talent

"I think this is probably the single most important transformative thing that has ever happened to the South African film industry... I think the impact is going to be dramatic to say the least," Mr McCarthy told me.

"We're going to have to almost adopt a Marshall plan to train people at a rate of knots. That's an opportunity to address the imbalances because if you come and make films here you know it's still pretty much a white man's business.

South Africans are also realising that we also have our own stories to tell
Qanita Adams
South African actress
"We want to change that so that it's more reflective of the demographics of the country," he said.

The Dreamworld Film City bid was given approval by the provincial minister for finance and education, Ibrahim Rassool, who is optimistic about the future of the film industry in the country.

"I think that the raw talent is there, the raw materials are there and I think our people are picking up skills. But at the end of the day we must make sure that we have indigenous stories to tell," said Mr Rassool.

"I think we have a commodity that the world wants. It's a formula for reconciling the past and the future, of making sure that people across the divide reach out to each other.

"And that has to be captured in artistic form and film is one of the most mobile forms in which to capture that message".


Shooting is underway on the set of Forgiveness - a low budget film about how to deal with the crimes of apartheid.

Plans for the Dreamworld studio
The studios will be in the shadow of Cape Town's Table Mountain

Qanita Adams, who plays the lead female role, says it is often hard for South African actors and actresses to become successful.

"It's very tough because I think South Africa's film industry is in its infancy - but it's a good one because there is a sense that it is about to grow.

"South African actors often get roles in international movies but increasingly I think South Africans are also realising that we also have our own stories to tell and no one is going to tell our stories as well as we do," said Ms Qanita.

The new film studios are primarily aimed at international companies, but the idea is to give preferential rates to local film makers so that the indigenous industry continues to grow.

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