- M-NET (All Africa) Film Awards 1988-1994
& 1995-1998: All Africa & 1999/2000 New
Format, M-NET All Africa Film Awards
African cinema is usually synonymous with
Jamie Uys. However, African cinema is
directly associated with Lionel Ngakane, a
black South African who was forced into exile in the
Ngakane's entry into film making occurred in
1950 when he worked as Zoltan Korda's assistant
during the making of Cry the Beloved Country.
In 1962 he bought a 16mm camera and filmed
sequences of Vukani/Awake for Derek Knight and
1966 Ngakane was invited to Vienna with
other Third World film makers to a symposium
on Third World Cinema organised by the Socialist Party
of Austria. It was there that he first met a few African
film makers. After formal and informal discussions
Ngakane realised that African film makers
had common problems in funding their films
and securing adequate distribution on the
continent. He suggested that the few delegates
at the symposium discuss the idea of an African film
makers organisation. It was decided to present the ideas
to film makers attending the prestigious Carthage
Film Festival in Tunis the following year.
1967 in Tunis, the Pan-African Federation of
Film Makers (FEPACI) was created. The
following year the inaugural conference was held
in Algiers when the constitution was drawn UP, and officers
elected. Ngakane was made Honorary President.
The aims of FEPACI are to develop Cinema on the African continent by:
film productions by independent film makers
and also through co-productions
striving to have African films distributed
throughout the continent, primarily, and
internationally, and as a secondary aim,
persuading governments to recognise the importance of
cinema in the social, economic and cultural education
of their populations. Governments to be persuaded to
adopt cinema policies that stimulate the
development of cinema in their countries and
having at least two regional film schools
to cater for Francophone and for Anglophone
students. These schools are to be of
international standard. In addition, FEPACI aims to:
Develop national film productions and co-productions in the region,
Persuade governments to have enlightened
cinema policies and create national film
corporations, Establish and develop a third African film festival
(in addition to Carthage in Tunis and FESPACO in
Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
Ngakane was the only active member of FEPACI
from South Africa since its inauguration until
the mid-1990s. He has been on the Bureau since
FEPACI was formed, and one of the five members
representing the five geographical regions of
Africa as delimited by the Organisation for
African Unity. Later, constitution FEPACI Constitution
was amended and he was elected Regional Secretary for
Southern Africa. The region is made up of:
Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana,
Angola, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa.
regional Secretary for Southern Africa,
Ngakane had to foster regional co-operation
of the national film makers associations and
try and fulfil the aims of FEPACI in the region.
During the boycott years, Ngakane was often the sole
South African representative at the world's, and Africa's,
major film festivals. His influence in these
events has been significant as seen in the
establishment of FEPACI and his membership of
numerous film juries.
aim now is to persuade South African film
makers to form a truly national association
for affiliation to FEPACI and thus be part of
the African Cinema.
* * *
have known Mr Ngakane since 1982 when he
approached me to facilitate a South African
committee under the auspices of the International
Film and Television Council (IFTC, Paris), which was
affiliated to UNESCO. This Committee, comprised of both
exiled South African film-makers (including
Ngakane) and a number of internal
representatives, was based in London and
operated for most of the 1980s.
was also instrumental in establishing the
South African Cinema Archive at the British
Film Institute (London) in the mid-1980s as
an IFTC Project. Funds raised through the Institute
facilitated the deposit from South Africa of both published
and unpublished materials and documents on South
African cinema. This Archive was intended to
preserve information under attack from the SA
Security police, and has provided an
excellent resource to scholars of South African cinema
who have been working from the UK. Following 1990, the
remaining funds from this project were donated to
CCMS which has established a SA Cinema
Archives, which is now being used by scholars
from all over the world.
unfailing support of my own work on South
African cinema and his constant lobbying for
international recognition of my efforts in
South Africa resulted in my being nominated and accepted
into a variety of international academic cinema forums
and festivals well before the cultural boycott had
ended. Amongst these have been my active
incorporation into the International Film and
TV Council (UNESCO, Paris), the
International Association for Film and TV Schools
(UNESCO, Brussels), cooperation with the British Film
Institute, and invitations to myself to organise South
African titles screened and debated at a number
of prestigious French film and video
festivals (1983, 1986). Ngakane's influence
on CCMS is thus fairly marked when these connections
are taken into account.
Ngakane's influence on the two feature
films, Cry the Beloved Country (1950) and A
Dry White Season (1989), was crucial to the artistic
integrity of the original books on which they were based.
On A Dry White Season, in particular, his tireless
technical and artistic intervention, and his
refusal to be intimidated by the American
producers, prevented this film from becoming a
travesty of Hollywood expediency and trivialisation.
His good council prevailed, and he was able to ensure
that the film script largely retained the integrity
of the original Brink novel.
his return to South Africa in 1994, Ngakane
has made his mark as a entrepreneur working
with Ster-Kinekor to bring cinemas to the townships
(see enclosed newspaper articles). He is also an advisor
to the Newtown Film School which in 1994 attained
candidate membership of CILECT (International
Association of Film and TV Schools).
conclusion, Mr Ngakane is internationally
renowned, has contributed fundamentally to
the development of South African and African cinema,
and is currently playing a facilitating role in bringing
all sectors of the previously fragmented film
do not hesitate to contact me should any
further information on Ngakane be required.
Director and Professor
Name: Lionel Ngakane
Born: Pretoria 17/7/1920
St. Peters Secondary School
Fort Hare University College
University of the Witwatersrand
1948/50 Worked as a journalist on the creation of two African magazines:
Zonk - from the first issue till January 1950
Drum - from dummy for six issues.
Assistant to Zoltan Korda, Producer/Director
of the film CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY, based
on the Alan Paton novel.Also played the
character of ABSALOM in the film. Was responsible choosing
locations and casting local actors.Completed the film
Actor in Britain - cinema, TV, theatre,
radio. Some of the films he acted as both
co-lead and supporting roles were: Safari, Across
the Bridge, Nor the Moon by Night (on which he was also
Wrote and Directed documentary film on South
Africa, Vukani/Awake The film was widely
Wrote and Directed short feature film Jemima
and Johnny. 1st Prize at Venice Festival;
Prize at Rimini Festival, Bronze Award at
Festival of Carthage. Theatrically distributed
in Britain and USA. Non-theatrically distributed in
Britain, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.Television sales
to Channel Four TV in Britain and 2nd Channel in
Germany. Film still being shown at various
Director of Golden Boabab entertainment
company in Senegal. Head of Film Department
for three years.
Wrote and Directed Once Upon a Time, a
documentary film shot in Liberia and Ivory
Wrote and Directed documentary film Nelson
Mandela Screened on Channel Four Television
(UK). Screened by URTNA to African television
stations. Also distributed non-theatrically in Britain,
USA and Europe.
Wrote with Director, Euzhan Palcy, the
script of film A Dry White Season, adapted
from Andre Brink's book. Also Technical Advisor
on the film.
Wrote and Directed one of the films of the
series People Matter, on Human Rights.
Wrote and Produced a documentary film
Canariv'88 for the government of the River
Wrote and Directed a long documentary
Nigeria in Transition for the Federal
Government of Nigeria.
Consultant on the TV Series on African
Governance, Hopes on the Horison. Ford
Other offices held:
Member of International Film Festival Juries:
Carthage Film Festival - Tunis
Leipzig Film Festival (twice)
Commonwealth Film Festival - Nicosia
Edinburgh Film Festival
FESPACO Film Festival, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Film Awards. Currently Chairman (1994-5) of
the selection committee. Jury member 1993
International Documentary Festival - Amsterdam. 1994
the first African Film Festival at the
National Film Theatre, London.
Wrote and directed radio plays for Radio Deutshe Welle, Germany.
Directed two plays at the I.C.A. Theatre, and the Bush Theatre, London
Written articles for newspapers and
magazines on African cinema. Including a
booklet for BBC.
Participated in several colloquiums and
symposiums on African and Third World Cinema
in Africa and overseas.
Conceived the idea of an organisation of
African Film Makers. The Pan-African
Federation of Film Makers (FEPACI) was formed
in 1967. I am a Founder member of the Bureau
and Regional Secretary for Southern.Created Southern
Africa Film Corporation Ltd. (SAFC). Its aims are to
provide cinema in the black townships and service them
with good entertaining and uplifting films as
a distribution company.
Member of the ANC since 1946. Chairman of
ANC Youth League - Orlando Branch. Worked
with Mandela, Sisulu and Tambo. One of three
members of the ANC who opened the ANC office
in London -1961.
A Director of the Newtown Film and Video School, Johannesburg.
Director of Film Resource Unit (FRU) which
distributes films and videos and operates a
Mobile Video programme.
Member of Board of Directors of the South Africa Cinema Foundation.
Member of the Advisory Committee on Cinema for AFRICA '95 in Britain.
de l'Ordre National, conferred by the
President of Burkino Faso. Awarded in
recognition of Ngakane's film making and his efforts
at promoting cinema in Africa.
FEPACI Recognition on the occasion of its 25th year.
Awed, IM and Adam, HM): First Mogadishu
Pan-African Film Symposium. Pan African
Cinema ... Which Way Ahead? Mogadishu: Mogpafis
Management Committee, 1983.
Opposite editorial page articles in The Star and Daily News
Ngakane has been profiled in numerous national and international film magazines.