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Netflix looks to support Black representation in film and TV

On 16 September 2021, Netflix announced a commitment of $400,000 (R5.5m) in the form of a grant and creation of scholarships to extend the support for Black representation in the film and TV industry to the creative ecosystem in South Africa.

The Netflix Black Creatives Empowerment Fund will be implemented in a two-pronged approach: the first being a $100,000 (R1.4m) grant in benefit of The Independent Black Filmmakers Collective NPC (IBFC), with the second being $300,000 (approx. R4.4m) designated towards funding full scholarships at higher education institutions in South Africa to support the formal qualification and training of aspiring Black creatives in the film and TV disciplines.The goal of the fund is to:

  • Create and promote more opportunities and training for people from underrepresented Black communities in South Africa to enter and succeed in the film and TV industry,
  • Provide Black filmmakers with access to scarce funding required to create screen productions in South Africa,
  • Support organisations that are involved in bespoke programmes geared towards identifying, training and/or providing creative opportunities for members of the Black community in South Africa’s film and TV industry.

The two-pronged approach Netflix has chosen a two-pronged approach for achieving the goals set out above, which includes a $100,000 (R1.4m) grant in benefit of The Independent Black Filmmakers Collective (IBFC) and $300,000 (R4.4m) designated to provide financial assistance through full scholarships and graduate debt relief at higher educational institutions in South Africa so as to support the formal qualification and training of aspiring Black creatives in the film and TV disciplines.

Institutions where qualifying students will be able to apply for scholarships and where debt relief opportunities will be available include: University of Cape Town; University of the Witwatersrand; University of Johannesburg; University of Pretoria; University of KwaZulu-Natal; Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Durban University of Technology; Tshwane University of Technology; AFDA; Boston Media House; AACA Film and Acting School; and CityVarsity.Netflix will again be working in partnership with social investment fund management and advisory firm Tshikululu Social Investments, as the implementing partner/fund administrator with the responsibility of supporting the outreach and execution of the project. In July 2020 and March 2021, Tshikululu worked closely with Netflix, the South African Screen Federation (SASFED) and their member organisation, Independent Producers Organisation (IPO), to create the Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund that helped the hardest-hit workers in the South African creative community. From 17 September 2021, students interested in applying for the fully-funded scholarships will be able to find additional information, application criteria and will be able to apply online on Tshikululu’s website. “We recognise that being part of the local creative community in South Africa also comes with responsibilities, in particular the need to develop the talent pipeline and give new voices the chance to be heard. Talent development is extremely important to us and we will continue to work with the industry in South Africa to support and develop new opportunities to grow the creative community, ” said Ben Amadasun, director of content for Netflix in Africa. “We are delighted to have offered this opportunity and established such a strong partnership with Netflix who share our intention to build capacity in the black filmmaker and practitioner value chain. It is through such intentional and systematic approaches to empowerment that we will build effective economic participation. We thank Netflix for walking this road with us,” said Azania Muendane, co-chairperson, IBFC.

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