The Durban FilmMart Institute (DFMI) has been the second board I have been privileged to serve on, and as a film professional in a growing industry, I wanted to effect change on a strategic level. At that point, my experience on a different board was very time-consuming and one where I was learning as I went along from colleagues who had been on boards previously. The challenge I found is that you don’t know what you don’t know, making the job more challenging, as I found myself trying to get involved in every operational aspect.
The DFMI was formally established in 2020 as a nonprofit company that facilitates local and international trade and investment in African film content. For the previous 12 years, the Durban Film Office managed the Durban FilmMart, so the market itself was not a new entity.
As a key sponsor and strategic partner of the DFMI, the eThekwini Municipality approached Inyathelo to facilitate a series of governance workshops to capacitate the newly appointed board members of the DFMI.
The DFMI, which hosts year-round programmes with our main annual 10-day event, the Durban FilmMart, attracts filmmakers from across the continent and world. They can collaborate and network with potential co-producers, access funding opportunities and generate market interest in the audio-visual sector, namely film and television. This is where the business of film and TV happens, and the economic value for KwaZulu-Natal is high.
In 2021 UNESCO conducted a study, The African Film Industry. It stated that “South Africa generates some US$600-750 million in production value annually, of which some US$220 million is Foreign Direct Investment, mostly coming from foreign film production which delivers a multiplier of 5 for the Department of Trade Industry and Competition.”
The audio-visual and interactive media sector is a critical economic driver and generates jobs, particularly for women and youth. With this knowledge, the board of DFMI was responsible for facilitating an environment that creates partnerships and furthers the development of African cinema. In 2021 the Durban FilmMart was named in UNESCO’s Film Trends in Africa Report as the “continent’s best film market.” At this point, we knew we were doing something right.
Our board understood that to keep innovating and driving our industry to the international market, we had to be strategic. Good governance was crucial to manage the organisation effectively. Inyathelo bridged the gap with the valuable training provided by highly professional and knowledgeable presenters.
Our training comprised sessions that were robust and informative, and very participatory. We were in a two-way conversation at all times, and there was room to ask questions, which was welcomed. However, the most important learning I had was the role and purpose of the board, i.e. oversight as stewards of the organisation, foresight as strategists and insight into understanding the bigger picture for the organisation. This has always been my guiding principle when making decisions on a board level. In addition, good governance includes accountability, transparency, inclusiveness, efficiency and participation, and these are some of the principles our board and CEO have embodied.
With the challenges of hosting an in-person event this year, our board was tasked with making difficult decisions. However with our competent CEO, Magdalene Reddy, who provided the board with adequate information to base our decisions on, we were able to host a very successful hybrid event. This was the outcome the board took on during the sessions hosted by Inyathelo, where we discussed the precise role of a CEO and the relationship with the board. Giving the CEO the mandate to be fully operational has been a turning point for the organisation, and operating in our crucial role has catapulted DFMI forward.
DFMI’s vision to be the premier business hub of the African film industries, where African film industry professionals and products are globally competitive and celebrated, is slowly being realised. Through the governance training provided by Inyathelo, our organisation has made huge strides and continues to impact filmmakers in South Africa and across the continent.
As someone who has sat on a nonprofit organisation’s board previously, the training provided by Inyathelo has been precious and has guided me to chair the board of the DFMI successfully. I recognise the necessity of the training to capacitate a new board effectively and would recommend this to every nonprofit organisation. As volunteers and individuals working in business, ensuring a board understands its mandate and their fiduciary responsibilities is critical to its success. This is not a role to be taken lightly; having been through the training, I fully understood my role and responsibility.
I have served as Chairperson for the DFMI for the last two years and take pride in the organisation’s achievements. Credit goes to Inyathelo for the solid and practical training provided.
Read more about DFMI: https://durbanfilmmart.co.za/about-dfmi/
Originally published in our 2021 Annual Report
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