Anant Singh is recognised as South Africa’s pre-eminent film producer, having produced more than 75 films since 1984. He is responsible for many of the most profound anti-apartheid films made in South Africa, among which are Place Of Weeping, Sarafina! and Cry, the Beloved Country. Nelson Mandela called him “a producer I respect very much…a man of tremendous ability” when he granted him the film rights to his auto- biography, Long Walk To Freedom. Singh is set to film Long Walk to Freedom this year.
Singh is the producer of Yesterday (from director, Darrell James Roodt), which received South Africa’s first Academy Award Nomination in the Best Foreign Language Picture category in 2005, the Peabody Award and an Emmy Nomination in 2006 in the “Outstanding Made For Television Movie” category.
Born and raised in Durban Singh began his film career at age 18 when he left his studies at the University of Durban-Westville to purchase a 16mm movie rental store. From there, he moved into video distribution, forming Videovision Entertainment and then progressed into film production in 1984 with Place of Weeping, the first anti-apartheid film to be made entirely in South Africa.
A selection of his subsequent feature films includes: Sarafina! with Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo and Miriam Makeba; The Road to Mecca, with Kathy Bates; Father Hood, with Patrick Swayze and Halle Berry; Captives, with Julia Ormond and Tim Roth; Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler, with Robert Englund and based on a Stephen King short story; Cry, the Beloved Country, from Alan Paton’s revered novel, with James Earl Jones and Richard Harris; Paljas (shot in Afrikaans, the first South African film to be selected for Oscar Consideration in the Best Foreign Language film category); and Red Dust, with Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, a drama focusing on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Singh’s association with South Africa’s Number One Box office star, Leon Schuster, saw the production of the Top Three Highest Grossing South African Films of All Time, Mr Bones 2, Mr Bones 1 and Mama Jack.
Directly after the completion of Yesterday, Singh once again teamed up with director, Darrell James Roodt to produce Faith’s Corner which starred Leleti Khumalo and scored by multi-award winner Philip Glass. Following this was the stylish Cape Flats gangster film, Dollars And White Pipes directed by Donovan Marsh and which won the Best Director prize at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2006.
Singh produced the hit comedies Mr Bones 2: Back From The Past, Mr Bones and Mama Jack which are among the Top Four Highest Grossing South African Films of All Time, earning more than R35 million, R33 million and R28 million respectively.
Released in 2008 and produced by Singh is More Than Just A Game, the moving docu-drama feature which tells the inspiring story of organised soccer among prisoners on Robben Island (the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were incarcerated by the apartheid regime in South Africa). Following this were the 2009 productions: the comedy, Jozi directed by Craig Freimond (Gums ‘n Noses) and Outrageous! which sees South Africa’s top stand up comics come together in a no-holds barred, adults only stand up comedy experience.
Upcoming is the documentary feature My Hunter’s Heart which explores the world’s oldest culture and how it is now at the brink of extinction and The First Grader which tells the remarkable and uplifting story of a proud old Mau Mau veteran who is determined to seize his last opportunity to learn to read and goes to school for the first time, joining a class of six year olds.
Anant Singh has also produced notable documentaries, including Countdown to Freedom, about the first democratic election in South Africa, Prisoners of Hope, about a reunion on Robben Island of 1250 of its former political prisoners led by Nelson Mandela, Hero For All which documents Nelson Mandela’s farewell visit to the United States as he stepped down from the South African Presidency. Viva Madiba: A Hero For All Seasons was produced as a 90th Birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela in July 2008 and Obama: People’s President, a documentary feature that explores the unique and innovative US presidential campaign mounted by Barack Obama.
In 1996, Videovision Entertainment, together with Kagiso Trust Investments successfully acquired the former SABC radio stations, Radio Oranje (OFM) and East Coast Radio. This led to the formation of the JSE-listed, Kagiso Media Limited. Singh provided strategic direction in the following capacities:
Chairman and board member of Eastcoast Radio
Board member of OFM
Board member / director of Kagiso Media (1997 to 2006)
Singh resigned his directorships in all radio stations and Kagiso Media in 2006.
Singh is a board member of the Los Angeles-based Artists For A New South Africa and the Mandela 46664 Concert with Richard Branson, Dave Stewart and Jim Beach. He is also the only South African member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki to the Creative Collective, the body responsible for the organization of South Africa’s Ten Years Of Freedom Celebrations in 2004.
He is also Chairman of the Cape Town Film Studios which is currently under construction and is scheduled to open at the end of 2010. Singh’s expertise in media and entertainment saw him being appointed to the Board of Governors for Media and Entertainment of the World Economic Forum. Singh is also a member of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council. He is a former board member of the International Marketing Council Of South Africa and South African Tourism, having served two terms on both these bodies.
Singh is a recipient of the Crystal Award of the World Economic Forum and the Lifetime Founder Member Award of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Both the University of Durban-Westville and the University Of Port Elizabeth have conferred honorary doctorates on him.
Singh was also nominated for the 2006 Black Businessman Of The Year Award by the influential business magazine, Black Business Quarterly.
The 2007 Palm Beach International Film Festival conferred the World Visionary Award to Singh for his contribution to world cinema and his production of socially conscious films.
The South African Film Industry honoured Anant Singh for his significant contribution to the advancement of the industry with the inaugural Golden Horn Award for Outstanding Contributor at the first South African Film and Television Awards in October 2006. Read More...
Selected by the City Press as one of the 100 most extraordinary, world class, South Africans currently.
Responsible for the design, building and operation of the first high tech custom built world class film studio complex in South Africa.
Took the Studio project from green fields to world leading and full capacity within 3 years of operation.
Responsible for the design, building and operation of the world’s first deep sea – beach tank double system in the world.
Nico Dekker’s work and vision with the Studio was rated by the Head of the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA), Vance Van Petten, to be at the forefront of the world.
Senior Executive decision makers from Paramount, Disney and Warner, rated the Studio as the best of its kind in the world.
All companies founded and managed by Nico Dekker, were profitable within 24 months of operation.
Has an impeccable record for financial management and accountability for all companies under his care.
Delivered 6 clean audits for Cape Town Film Studios to date.
Was one of the few white Afrikaans speaking South Africans who withstood the apartheid regime and went into exile for his beliefs.
Respected on national, local and provincial government level for the work he has done at the Studio and companies he managed before that.
Productions that used Cape Town Film Studios has spent R1.7billion as direct production investments and employed more than 40 000 people during the first three years of operation.
Context and Training
My career can be divided into a “before” and “after” apartheid period. From 1980 to 1991 I have been in exile. During the first period I have been working as a journalist, factory worker, lumberjack and scriptwriter.
After returning to South Africa, I further developed my management skills that culminated in the various formations of companies and film studios. I am married to a German and have a daughter that studies at the University of Stellenbosch.
I’ve started studying for a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Pretoria, but after getting into conflict with the University and Government over the apartheid policies of the time, I decided to discontinue my studies, without completing my degree, to pursue a career in Journalism. Quickly realizing the limitations, I left South Africa to spend 9 years in exile in Germany.
Initially, I worked as a lumberjack and factory worker, but later started writing for German and Swiss newspapers, radio stations and television.
I became a leading and well known critic of the apartheid regime in Europe. During that time I organised numerous campaigns and conferences against apartheid and also started working as a scriptwriter. I worked as a scriptwriter for Konstantin Film as well as Trebitch Entertainment. In 1998, I made a documentary film about the wild horses of the Namib Desert. This film became one of the most successful documentaries from South Africa and was shown more than 30 times on European television.
After the release of Nelson Mandela, as well as the unbanning of the ANC and the South African Communist Party, I returned to South Africa with the ambition to help with the rebuilding of the Country after apartheid.
I initially worked for the most prominent anti-apartheid magazine called “Die Suid-Afrikaan” that helped prepare the ground for a new dispensation after apartheid.
After the 1994 elections, I left “Die Suid-Afrikaan” to work as a freelance script writer and documentary film maker.
I was tasked by the South African government and the city of Frankfurt to manage and stage South Africa’s participation as “theme country” for the “Museumsufer Festival”, one of the largest fairs of its kind in Europe. The festival attracts year by year more than 2 million visitors and South Africa’s participation in 1998 was considered to be a highlight for the festival and country.
Since 1998, I have been involved in the formation of various companies in different sectors of the economy and developed a proven track record in financial management, personnel management, structural planning of larger projects and an ability to make companies feasible within a short space of time. All companies formed or co-formed by me were running profitable within 24 month of operation.
Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS) Chief Executive Officer / Executive Director July 2008 - Present
In 2008, he was asked to take over the planning and management of Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS). As Chief Executive Officer (CEO) he was responsible and oversaw all aspects of design, implementation and later the running of the Studio. Cape Town Film Studios is the first custom built state-of-the-art film studio and production hub of its kind in South Africa and Africa. CTFS officially started operations in December 2010 and has since hosted a wide range of international projects, including “Dredd” – DNA Films, “Chronicle” – 20th Century Fox, “The Borrowers” – Working Title, “Safe House” – Universal, “Labyrinth” – Scott Free / Tandem, “Young Leonardo II” – Kindle Entertainment/ BBC, and “Mad Max: Fury Road” – Warner Brothers.
The ultimate film about Nelson Mandela’s life, “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”, produced by Videovision, was based and filmed at Cape Town Film Studios.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently released figures regarding productions that used CTFS during the last three years. Productions hosted by CTFS accordingly have employed 40 000 people (mostly from previously disadvantaged backgrounds) and invested directly R1.7 billion into the economy.
Nico achieved a major breakthrough by contracting a leading US television network, Starz Entertainment, to shoot a long term high end television series at the Studio, entitled “Black Sails”. The prolific filmmaker, Michael Bay, is behind the series that could run for five years and could generate direct expenditure of R2 billion into the economy. This series alone could lead to the creation of 55 000 jobs and would have an economic impact of R6 billion.
Nico is dealing with all tiers of government, producers and filmmakers from across the world, as well as a wide spectrum of the local film industry on a regular basis. The Studio, under leadership of Nico, has been rated in a survey by the Hollywood Reporter to be among the top ten facilities of its kind in the world outside of the US.
One of the key strategies followed by Nico, was to create semi-permanent sets and to custom built infrastructure required by large international productions
Table Mountain Pictures (TMP), Co-Owner / Executive Director, 2005 – Present
The company specialises in television content. South Africa’s leading and multi award winning Editor has been working for the company for 9 years. One of the films she edited, “Carmen in Khayelitsha” won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival.
Cinegate Africa, Executive Director / Co-Owner and Co-Founder, 2000-2004
Nico co-founded Cinegate Africa in 2000 and it became within 2 years one of South Africa’s leading film equipment rental companies supplying high tech camera, lighting and grip equipment to local and international productions. The company provided a 24/7 service and assisted film productions across the whole of Southern Africa. Nico finally left Cinegate Africa in 2004 to fully concentrate on Table Mountain Motion Picture Studios. Cinegate Africa became one of Nico’s first tenants on the back-lot of Table Mountain Motion Picture Studios.
Table Mountain Motion Picture Studios (TMMPS), CEO / Executive Director / Co-Owner and Co-Founder, 2004 - 2006
Nico was the CEO and co-owner of South Africa’s first successful film studio complex. He was the visionary who created the concept, formed the team and implemented a new model consisting of transforming old factory buildings into a workable film studio.
Table Mountain Motion Picture Studios attracted 15 film related companies to settle on its premises and was the first financially viable studio complex of this nature in South Africa.
TMMPS paid a dividend to its shareholders after only two and a half years of operation. TMMPS hosted several large budget international productions including “Lord of War” (starring Nicholas Cage), “Mercenary of Justice” (starring Steven Seagal) and “10 000 BC”, a $100m plus production by Sony Pictures/Warner Brothers.
The Editing Café, Executive Director / Co-Owner and Co-Founder,1999 to 2002
The Editing Café specialised in the development and rental of new on-set editing and video take-off equipment for film makers. It laid the foundations for a new era of video take-off machines in South Africa that made on-set editing more efficient and faster. Some of the technological breakthrough achieved are now being used by companies like Easy-Look and others. The success of the Editing Café led to the formation of Cinegate Africa.
Secret Africa Travels
This company became one of the most successful specialised inbound tourism companies, providing highly unusual tours to visitors interested in the off-the-beaten track experiences. One of Germany’s most influential newspapers, “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, described Secret Africa tours as amongst the most innovative available in Africa.
Junge & Dekker
The company became successful as an import / export company of specialized goods between Europe and South Africa.
Foodbank - Nico served for more than 7 years on the board of the leading non-profitable food re-distribution network “Foodbank” (formerly known as “Feedback”).
Jazzart - Nico was a non-executive director of the renown Cape Town based Jazzart Dance Company for several years.
Sudhir Pragjee qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1974 and is a director of Videovision Entertainment (Pty) Ltd and is responsible for the Business Affairs portfolio in the Videovision Entertainment Group of Companies. During his tenure at the company, he has been the financial controller and/or executive producer on more than 75 feature films and thirteen television productions, and has controlled budgets totalling more than R1 billion.
Pragjee has significant experience in radio, providing strategic direction as a past board member of the JSE-listed Kagiso Media, East Coast Radio and OFM. He previously served in the following capacities until his resignation in 2006:
- Chairman of the Kwa-Zulu Natal based East Coast Radio
- Chairman of the Free State based, OFM
- A director of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed company, Kagiso Media Ltd
- Member of Audit Committee - Kagiso Media
- Member of Remuneration Committee - Kagiso Media
He also a former director of M&G Media, the publishers of The Mail & Guardian newspaper.
Pragjee is also responsible for Videovision Entertainment’s property investments, including the flagship development, The Pearls of Umhlanga as well as Cape Town Film Studios and the proposed Durban Film City.
Pragjee has been executive producer on most of the 100 films produced by Videovision Entertainment.
Pragjee is also active in the live entertainment ventures of Videovision Entertainment and oversaw the promotion of the Amitabh Bachchan’s Jumma Chooma stadium extravaganzas in South Africa in 1991, Gloria Estefan’s and Michael Jackson’s tour of South Africa in 1997 and the Now Or Never Live! Show which took place in Durban on December 28, 2002 and featured ten of Bollywood’s top stars, including the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Sushmita Sen, Preity Zinta, Shilpa Shetty and Rani Mukherjee. Now Or Never Live! was one of the largest concerts ever in the history of Indian entertainment in the world.
Pragjee also plays an active role in film industry bodies and has served as treasurer on the South African Film and Television Institute and on the National Executive Committee of Independent Producer’s Organisation.
He has been the financial director of all the Videovision Entertainment Group of companies since 1988. He is chairman and founding trustee of the Into The Light Foundation which has brought sight to 700 indigent blind people at no cost to the individuals and is the president of the Durban-based religious and cultural organization, the Gujarati Hindu Sanskruti Kendra which has among its many projects a retirement home for the needy which is currently being built. Read More...
Presently Chief Commercial Officer of Sabido and Non-Executive Director of YFM and Cape Town Film Studios, he is responsible for the generation of Revenue and Trade Marketing.
His broadcasting career has evolved over a period of eighteen years, the start of which was a freelance radio presenter at Radio Lotus. He was appointed Station Manager at Radio Lotus and during his tenor the station was transformed into Lotus FM, making it more vibrant and relevant to the community it served.
After a successful stint at the radio station and as recognition of his marketing abilities which included an award for Emerging Marketer of the Year in KZN, he was promoted to Regional Manager of Radio Active for the SABC in the Western Cape. The core responsibility was to generate revenue for all the SABC radio stations, within a short space of time he was promoted to National Sales Manager in Johannesburg.
He then joined Multichoice SA as a National Sales Manager and was head-hunted by eTV which he joined in April 2002.
He is frequently requested to talk on broadcasting matters and is a regular guest lecturer at the Sol Plaatjies School of Media at Rhodes University.
He holds the following degrees. BA. UHDE. Bed. MBA. CM (SA).
Ms Phuti Tsukudu has an MEd from Bristol University in the UK, BA (Social Work) from the University of the North, Diploma in Adult Education from the University of the Western Cape and a Certificate in Counselling from the Counselling Unit, University of Leeds in the UK. She has worked as a counsellor, trainer and in the management of NGOs for more than fifteen (15) years. She has extensive organisational development consulting experience with a number of organisations in the public, private and NGO sectors in South and Southern Africa.