In 2005, South Africa got its first female parliamentary leader. It also made its first Oscar-winning movie, thanks in part to the IDC.
In a country not unused to making history, 2005 was a big year. On the political front, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed deputy president, the first woman to hold the position and at the time the highest ranking woman in the history of South Africa.
It was not the only first: on the entertainment front, the first locally produced movie to win an Oscar was released. Named one of best films to be produced in South Africa, Tsotsi was released to much critical acclaim. The Industrial Development Corporation's Media and Motion Pictures Strategic Business Unit was a funder.
Set in a seedy informal settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Tsotsi tells the story of a hardened criminal – played by Presley Chweneyagae – who specialises in car hijackings and smash-and-grabs. One fateful day, he hijacks a car and inadvertently drives off with a baby inside. This sets off a chain of events that culminate in one of most heart-rending stories ever to come out of South Africa.
Appreciation for the movie was global: the film won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film that same year. Based on the novel of the same name by Athol Fugard, Tsotsi was directed by Gavin Hood and produced by Peter Fudakowski.
It is just one of the several local films supported by the IDC's Media and Motion Pictures unit. Funding of R12.7-million for film projects was approved by the IDC in 2003, one of which was Tsotsi. The unit was set up in 2001 to support the local film, printing and publishing industry. At first, the focus was on funding films produced locally by international movie companies for international audiences. But this shifted to support local movie producers targeting local and international audiences.
Since its inception, the unit has funded 40 local movies, 13 documentaries and nine television series. And it recently broadened its scope to expand the IDC's impact. It now includes funding for production facilities and the animation industry.