"If I wanted to make something that actually made a difference, I would make a documentary" - Neill Blomkamp
Documentary films occupy a leading role in the world of film and television within the overall mix of news and entertainment.
The form is dynamic and evolving, with the elision between fictional narrative structures and the classical ‘objective’ stance becoming more pronounced to the point that major broadcasters and streaming services are now offering multi-episode documentary works that build a narrative over multiple episodes, alongside the classical single long form documentary piece. The theatrical documentary film is now inhabiting the feature film space, with many cities having dedicated theatres showing only documentary films.
Not only has the structural form of the documentary evolved, but also the way in which we view it across multiple platforms. The democratization of media, the rise of people’s journalism, the falling costs of equipment and ease of dissemination mean that we are facing a plethora of product. But more does not necessarily equate with better.
The role of DOCi (The Documentary Institute of South Africa) is to establish a centre for the creation of highest quality documentary product, long and short form, across all platforms, to tell the stories that matter not only to our own diverse people, but to the international community as well.
South Africa has long enjoyed a vigorous documentary tradition, dating back to 1910. Documentary film has been used to educate, inform, propagandize and ultimately help to liberate the population from the fascism of Apartheid and colonialism. With the advent of democracy in 1994, documentary film makers were able to turn away from agitprop and resistance journalism to embrace the broad spectrum of culture that emerged with independence – the arts, wildlife, conservation, social science, history and the multiple issues affecting an emerging country. In recent years there has once again been a swing towards the political documentary as the country is embroiled in corruption and violence, and the need to apply a critical lens to examine the legacy of Apartheid.
Based in Cape Town and drawing on a range of local and international experts in the field of documentary, DOCi aims to teach courses that have both a rigorous academic and intellectual component, as well as a practical outcome film made to professional broadcast standards.
We are building on our long-standing relationships with international film schools and universities to offer semester-based practical modules in film-making as credit-bearing components of a degree.
ONGOING VOCATIONAL TRAINING
This is geared primarily through the Emerging Filmmakers Programme serving a domestic agenda, offering a MICT SETA skills-based traineeship aimed at young, previously disadvantaged people, to provide basic skills training to enable them to find meaningful work within the film and television industry. This would operate after the formal classes had ended, and take the form of on-set internships to provide a rounded traineeship designed by leading film producers to meet the needs of the industry. We focus primarily on practical on-set skills, such as gaffers, riggers, set builders, transport drivers, caterers etc as well as higher level skilled work such as boom swingers, sound recordists, camera assistants, camera operators, first, second and third Assistant Directors, co-ordinators etc.