Mobile Video Entertainment – a new medium for emerging African filmmakers

On 5 November 2010, The Hillside Digital Trust with Emma Kaye, CEO of Gate 7, in partnership with MXit, launched Zwakanaka. Within one month of going live, the portal received 24 695 users, in December that increased to 50 691.

For low-income youth who can’t afford further education, today’s film, television and advertising industries are difficult to break into. Hillside Digital Trust is enabling township youth in South Africa to not only create mobile video entertainment content but to deliver it through an accessible platform to an audience that is hungry for localised, affordable and relevant content. We are giving the townships a voice and emerging filmmakers a viable alternative distribution platform to traditional media.
Hillside Digital Trust is a year ahead of the industry training the youth in South African townships to film for mobile entertainment.
Zwakanaka: Offers original local content accessible to a township market on the MxIt platform and gives filmmakers and mobile users an opportunity to create and enjoy relevant mobile media entertainment. It represents a first in terms of giving a voice to filmmakers and consumers alike to determine what they want to get across to each other.
How it started:
Hillside Digital, Siyakhona and Emma Kaye; a leader in mobile media entertainment and content saw a gap in the urban mobile youth market. We are working together to create a mobile platform that enables young township filmmakers to reach a large market. This partnership gives birth to a creative film-making initiative characterized by storytelling that enables our organization and our township filmmakers to become financially sustainable.

In the build-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South AfricaTM, Hillside Digital came together with FIFA, Sony and global NGO streetfootballworld to create ‘Siyakhona’ – a programme that trains young people to become citizen journalists. Through Siyakhona we have established two hubs of community filmmakers, equipped with the latest Sony HD video technology and the training to use it, in two of South Africa’s most impoverished communities – Alexandra in Johannesburg and Khayelitsha in Cape Town.


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