New institute to equip graduates with global skills

16 July 2002
IN RESPONSE to student demand, the needs of South Africa's burgeoning film and television industry, and the extraordinary potential that film and computer-based media hold for the development of South Africa's economy, the Faculty of Humanities has established an Institute for Film and New Media.

The Institute will give intellectual and creative impetus to South Africa's emergence as a global player in the film and new media fields. It builds on the creative and intellectually rigorous programme in film studies that the Departments of Drama, Fine Art, English, History and Social Anthropology have offered in recent years.

"The Departments of Drama and Fine Art now seek to capitalise on the favourable conjunction of factors that make the establishment of the Institute timely from both the educational and business perspectives," said Dean, Professor Robin Cohen.

"The Faculty envisages an Institute that will become the foremost centre for film and new media education in Africa. It aims to offer a world class education that emphasises the creative aspects of the film and new media fields, is rooted in the African context, and is grounded in the realities of industrial practice."

Graduates will be equipped to play leading roles as producers, directors, screenwriters, creative innovators, and software designers - roles that are seen as essential to the success of locally driven initiatives.

"The Faculty envisions an Institute that will exert an impact on the film and new media industries in Africa similar to the impact film schools at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and New York University (NYU) have had on the film industry in the United States, and new media-oriented schools such as the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and ZKM/Centre for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany have had on the new media industry," Cohen added.

The Institute will have at its core three new programmes that will be phased in over five years. The first component, starting in 2003, comprises two Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) courses, one in Film and TV Production and the other in New Media. The second component is a strong research and development programme that focuses on new product development that will complement the Masters courses.

The third component is a production studio that will market products created by staff and students and will generate income that will contribute to the Institute's sustainability.

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