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NC town loses out on hosting film festival

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This year is the first time that the International Tourism Film Festival is hosted on African soil.

THE NORTHERN Cape’s acclaimed Apollo Theatre in Victoria West has lost out on hosting Africa’s first International Tourism Film Festival.

The festival, which is set to take place during November, was billed to take place in Victoria West, and specifically at the Apollo Theatre. However, the festival will now take place in Cape Town instead.

This year is the first time that the International Tourism Film Festival is hosted on African soil.

The DA in the Northern Cape said that it was “disturbed” by reports that Victoria West had lost out on hosting the International Tourism Film Festival.

“As far as the DA can ascertain, this is largely due to the provincial and local government of Ubuntu not coming to the party in a number of ways. Not only is the town of Victoria West in a filthy state, but ongoing water shortages, due to delayed infrastructure projects, are also threatening the running of guest houses and businesses. The town has been without water for the past month already, with no end in sight to the ongoing water woes. Half-laid water pipes and mounds of rubble also obliterate the image of the picturesque Karoo town. On top of this, the town is also facing electricity cuts due to outstanding debt owed to Eskom,” DA spokesperson Fawzia Rhoda said.

Rhoda added that Victoria West thus has nothing to showcase and offer filmmakers at this point in time.

“It would be more of an embarrassment to bring international filmmakers to the town now than it would be an investment. Aside from the pitiful state of the municipality, provincial government also does not appear to have been willing to invest in the festival, other than offering to provide 600 local residents with a takeaway container of food. In effect, the festival is believed to have been moved to Cape Town, where there is better support.This is a very unfortunate,” Rhoda said.

Victoria West boasts the Apollo Theatre, a South African landmark of international acclaim.

“For years, the locals have been trying to revive the old Apollo Film Festival, that saw the town come to life once a year with well-known personalities from the film industry visiting the town to attend premier film screenings by new and upcoming filmmakers. The International Tourism Film Festival would have been just the boost necessary to prepare the way for the planned revival of the festival in 2020. The government is making a mockery of local economic development. When real and wonderful opportunities come the way of the Northern Cape, government throws them back. If this trend continues, we can forget about further job-creating investment in our impoverished Province. The DA will report this matter to the MEC for Tourism and Economic Development, Mac Jack, as well as the premier, Zamani Saul, so that he can be made fully aware as to what is happening in our towns,” Rhoda concluded.

The Apollo Theatre theatre manager, Contessa Kruger, confirmed that the festival has been moved to Cape Town following “disinterest” by local authorities to provide “bare-minimum funding” for necessities like the rent of the Apollo Theatre and sound equipment requirements.

Kruger added that, in any event, the dismal state of Victoria West, which is suffering from basic service delivery problems and litter, did not create a conducive environment to showcase the town.