FRANCOIS VERSTER (Director/Producer/Camera/Editor)
Francois Verster is a multiple-award winning independent documentary filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa. His films generally follow “creative” observational approaches to social issues and have all won local and international awards and been broadcast around the world – these include SEA POINT DAYS (2009), THE MOTHERS’ HOUSE (2006), the Emmy-winning A LION’S TRAIL (2002), WHEN THE WAR IS OVER (2002) and PAVEMENT ARISTOCRATS (1998). He has taught documentary directing and film studies at Columbia University, NYU, Bowdoin College, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, City Varsity, Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking and elsewhere, and has published on documentary film in journals and anthologies. He has appeared on various festival juries and has had eight international festival retrospectives or special focus series on his work; his films have been used in various seminars on the intersection between creative documentary and social activism.
SHAMEELA SEEDAT (Producer)
Shameela Seedat studied law, politics and human rights at the University of Cape Town and as Fulbright scholar at Columbia University in New York. Over the past 14 years she has worked extensively in the field of democratic governance and social justice and built up a substantial body of work and professional network, both locally and globally. She has worked as a researcher for South Africa’s Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, as a legal consultant for UNIFEM in New York and as a policy analyst at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa. Her work with UNIFEM/UNDP addressed electoral and constitutional reform in several post-conflict societies, including Rwanda, Kosovo, East Timor and South Africa. Shameela has addressed forums ranging from the Parliaments of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the International Civil Forum against Corruption in Indonesia and the South African National Anti-Discrimination Forum. Shameela was also invited as an independent expert to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa to give input on the design of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) questionnaire dealing with good governance. She has provided numerous democracy-related workshops for politicians from African countries (including Sudan, Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Angola) and published widely on social justice in various anthologies, journals and newspapers. Recently, she acted as associate producer on a film dealing with post-revolution Egypt for AJE.
NEIL BRANDT (Producer)
Neil Brandt, a University of Cape Town graduate in psychology and law, is one of South Africa’s leading creative producers. Neil’s main focus has been the factual genre, preferring strong character-driven films with a central driving question about the world we live in. Neil is also in advanced development on a number of feature scripts and is the co-producer on the Fireworx Feature One Last Look due for release late 2012. He has taken to market many award-winning documentary films, including Angola Saudades, A Lion’s Trail, The Mothers’ House, History of South African Politics, Tsietsi My Hero, Courting Justice, Affectionately Known as Alex and Protection, which have won numerous best-film awards locally and internationally, including an Emmy for Outstanding Artistic and Cultural Programming, and have broadcast in over 35 territories worldwide, by, among others, BBC, Arte, ZDF, NHK and The Sundance Channel.
In 2010 he completed Sea Point Days, which held its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and subsequently competed at IDFA and the Dubai IFF amongst others. Neil has just returned from Egypt where together with long-time creative collaborator Francois Verster, he produced A Storyteller in Egypt for Jazeera English. For the film Dear Mandela (SA/USA) which premiered at the Durban International Film Festival in July 2011, he won Best South African Documentary. His first feature film, uGugu no Andile, won best African Language Film at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009, and best South African feature at the Cape Winelands Film Festival in 2010. Neil has also produced numerous television mini-series and sitcoms for the local South African broadcaster SABC. He is a founding partner of established Johannesburg production and distribution company Fireworx Media (Pty) Ltd. He is a founding member of Filmmakers Against Racism (FAR) and has served on a number of industry initiatives including the SASFED/IPO Intellectual Property sub-committee, SAFTA’s judging panels, and sits on the board of the Documentary Filmmakers Association (DFA) and on the advisory board of the People2People Documentary Conference.
WAEL OMAR (Producer, Middlewest Films, Egypt)
Wael Omar is a native Cairene with an inherent passion for all things creative, chaotic, eccentric or authentic. Since 2001 he has worked up and down the production line, from inconsequential credits on Hollywood features, to filming “conflict zone” documentaries in Kenya, and Egypt, to fixing for Danish, French, Spanish, and Dutch film companies with productions in Egypt. In 2005 he produced and directed Democracy 76 -a treatise on Egypt’s first attempt at a democratic election, and the brutal events that precipitated it. Upon returning to re-settle in the Middle East in 2007, with a focus on culturally-rich, heritage oriented stories, and a partner who is practically a female twin, Wael launched Middle West Films, whole-heartedly dedicated to build and fortify the documentary scene in the Arab-Med region. The company has had strong representation in all regional film markets and festivals. It is currently in completing a feature-length documentary entitled IN SEARCH OF OIL AND SAND.
PETER NEAL (Edit Consultant, Additional Editing)
Peter Neal has been a professional filmmaker for more than 45 years. As writer and/or director and/or editor he has made more than 70 films with sponsors as diverse as Granada TV, the BBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channel USA, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, The United Nations and Christian Aid. Over 30 of his films have been televised in the UK and around the world. 8 have had cinema distribution. He has made many music-related films. These include promotional and roadshow films for The Who, Jethro Tull, Free, Cat Stevens and Black Sabbath and feature length documentaries with Jimi Hendrix, the Incredible String Band, Yes, and The Action. His most recent feature length music documentary, ‘Room Full Of Mirrors,’ was described in Record Collector as the ultimate film about Jimi Hendrix. In the past decade, as well as making his own films, he has worked closely with Francois Verster, editing ‘Pavement Aristocrats’ and ‘A Lion’s Trail.’ More recently he has worked with Verster and producer Neil Brandt as editor on ‘The Mothers’ House’ and ‘Protection’ and as consultant editor on ‘Sea Point Days.’
FLEUR KNOPPERTS (Co-producer, Volya Films, The Netherlands)
Fleur Knopperts is Head of Development at Rotterdam-based production company Volya Films. She works on the development and international financing of both documentary and fiction projects. Previously, she was Director of the FORUM for international co-financing of documentaries at IDFA in Amsterdam – the largest and most prestigious international documentary market in the world. From 1998 until 2000, she was co-ordinator of the Jan Vrijman Fund. In 2007 she worked for Doc/Fest in Sheffield where as Industry & Marketplace Director she set up MeetMarket – the new international marketplace in the UK for independent documentary projects in development. She is a graduate of the Eurodoc programme for documentary producers and is a tutor for Doc Station at the Berlinale Talent Campus. Her company’s recent films include THE NEW SAINT by Allard Detiger (Dutch Documentary Competition IDFA), THE LIGHT THIEF (Svet-Ake) by Aktan Arym Kubat (Director’s Fortnight Cannes 2010), GRANDE HOTEL by Lotte Stoops and DOUBLE TAKE by Johan Grimonprez (Best Documentary Director; Sundance Film Festival).
LUCAS ROSANT (Co-producer, Melia Films, France)
Lucas Rosant’s past international experience on festivals and markets has enabled him to develop an extensive network and access to emerging talents worldwide. He worked for the organisation and programming of different International Film Festivals, as among others La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes), Marrakech International Film Festival (Morocco), Premiers Plans d’Angers (France), Paris Cinema International Film Festival. He also headed for 7 years the Paris Project, the co-production and development platform of Paris Cinema IFF. In parallel, he is consulting or matchmaking since many years for different co-production forums and festival markets as Crossroads – Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Greece), Dubai Film Connection – Dubai International Film Festival (UAE), Open Doors – Locarno International Film Festival (Switzerland), Producers Network – Cannes Film Market (France), Produire au Sud – 3 Continents Film Festival (Nantes, France), HAF (Hong Kong Film Financing Forum), Durban Filmart (South-Africa), Berlinale Coproduction Market (Germany) and the Cinemart (Rotterdam Film Festival). Lucas Rosant is also part of the EAVE Producers Workshop 2010. With a wide and strong network and expertise in terms of international coproductions, Meliaa Films is dedicated to produce compelling stories from challenging territories; from both emerging talents as well as more established directors. The company produces documentaries and feature films.
DIDEM PEKUN (Associate Producer, Turkey)
Didem Pekun is a filmmaker whose films screened internationally. She also is a lecturer and is currently teaching ‘Documentary filmmaking in theory and practise’ at Sabanci University, while doing her practise-based PhD at Goldsmiths College where she holds an MA from.