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A/Prof Martin Botha

Associate Professor of Film Studies


Dr Botha is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town. Prof. Botha convenes a third-year course in African Cinemas that introduces students to the work of directors such as Youssef Chahine, Gaston Kabore, Ousmane Sembene and Gillo Pontecorvo. The course examines contemporary issues in African cinemas, including cinema in South Africa during and after apartheid. He was in charge of an African Cinema Unit within the Centre for Film and Media Studies from 2009 till 2012. He also teaches international film history and theory, world cinema, avant-garde film making, as well as theories of film authorship. He is a free-lance film critic for various newspapers, journals and magazines (since 1978), as well as an advisor for several international film festivals. He was South Africa’s contributor to International Film Guide for 22 years  

He is the only South African member of FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique). He participated in FIPRESCI juries at the Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival, Tromso International Film Festival, Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival, Transilvania International Film Festival and Oberhausen International Short Film festival. He also served on the BRICS Film Festival Jury in 2019 and many other international film festivals. 

Dr Martin Botha published more than 200 articles, reports and papers on the South African media, including six books on South African cinema, namely Images of South Africa: the rise of the alternative film (1992), Movies Moguls Mavericks: South African cinema: 1979-1991 (1992), Kronieken van Zuid-Afrika: de films van Manie van Rensburg (1997), Jans Rautenbach: Dromer, baanbreker en auteur (2006), Marginal Lives and Painful Pasts: South African cinema after apartheid (2007) and South African Cinema 1896 – 2010 (February 2012). The book has been translated in Arabic and launched at the 2013 Luxor African Film Festival.  His publications have also been translated in French, Dutch, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese.  

From 1990 until 1992 he was involved in extensive research for the Film and Allied Workers' Organisation (FAWO) regarding the restructuring of the South African film industry. He worked closely with the Film and Television Federation on the establishment of a South African Film Foundation for the administration and funding of the local film industry. During April and May 1995, he was co-opted onto the Film Subcommittee of the new democratic government’s Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology's Task Group regarding post-apartheid film policy. At the end of July 1995, he was seconded to the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology to co-write the White Paper for a future South African film industry. The drafting of the White Paper was completed at the beginning of 1996 and led to the establishment of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).  

Due to his involvement in film policy research the United States Information Agency invited him to participate in an International Visitor's Programme. During January 1997 he met with U.S. officials involved in legislation affecting the film industry, members of film and media associations such as film schools and archives, as well as film and video distributors in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Park City (Sundance Film Festival), Chicago and New York.  

Dr Botha read papers on his media/film research at South African as well as international congresses held in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Swaziland, Mmabatho, Miami, Delray Beach (USA), Ghent, Bruges, Neerpelt (Belgium), and Brussels. During 1991 he visited several institutions in the USA and Britain to study trends in media studies and film research. He was invited during 1992 by the Free University of Brussels to deliver three papers at a congress/film week on the theme Cinema and Apartheid. He was also invited during 1995 to attend the Kriterion Film Festival on South African cinema in Amsterdam to read papers on our cinema. During 1995 he also lectured at the Free University of Brussels. He returned to the Free University of Brussels during October 1996 to present lectures on South African cinema during a South African film week, as well as a paper at the XV Flemish Conference on Communication. He assisted the Free University of Brussels in organising the two South African film festivals, as well as a photo exhibition on our cinema in 1996. He returned to Belgium in 2009 as a guest of the Afrika Film Festival in Leuven. During his visit Dr Botha lectured at the University of Leuven and participated in the Africalia International Film Conference on Audiovisual Distribution in Southern Africa. 

In 2012 he was invited by the BFI to participate in the Sight & Sound Critics’ Greatest Films of All Time poll. During 2019 he was invited by BBC Culture to participate in polls about the Greatest Foreign Language Films, as well as the Greatest Films by Women Directors. During 2008 he served as a Juror in the Semi-Finals Judging in the category of TELENOVELLA AND ART PROGRAMMING for the 2008 International Emmy® Awards. 

During August 1994 he was invited to the 24th Giffoni Film Festival in Italy as official guest regarding an overview of South African cinema. For his research and related contribution to South African cinema he was awarded a Gryphon at the festival. During 2004 he was an invited guest at the 14th Festival Cinema Africano d’Asia e America Latina in Milan.  He was the curator of a large retrospective on South African cinema (Films from 1960 till 2004). He was also an invited guest at the Zanzibar Film Festival during July 2004, as well as at the 2005 Locarno Film Festival and 2006 Open Doek Film Festival.  

During July 2009 he was an invited guest at the 7th Ischia Global Film and Music Festival, where he received an award for his contribution to the South African film industry. He was involved in an exhibition on the then 113-year film history of South Africa. In 2012 he attended the Cannes Film Festival. In 2014 he served on the international film juries of QueerLisboa, as well as the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in 2014 and 2015. He also participated during 2020 in a seminar at the Moscow International Film festival. He was also invited by FIPRESCI India to participate in the celebration of Satyajit Ray’s career, 

He is an external examiner for Film Studies for various universities. He was an advisory board member for the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers’ (FEPACI) secretary general, Seipati Bulani-Hopa. He was a member of FEPACI’s Feasibility Study Steering Committee. He served on the editorial board of the Journal of African Cinemas. He also contributes to Films & Festivals. He is a member of the international Indian journal FILMBUFF. 

He did evaluations of research proposals for the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO Belgium) in 2012. He is currently a board member of ILHA DO DESTERRO and part of the Scientific Council of Interin, the journal of the Post-Graduate Programme in Communication of Universidade Tuiuti do Paraná, Brazil. During 2018 he served as referee for the Newton International Fellowships 2018 (The Royal Society). He evaluated articles for SCREEN and Litnet Akademies. 

He was a council member of the National Film and Video Foundation (between 1999 and 2007), a sub-committee member of the NFVF regarding the establishment of a National Film School and a director (representing the NFVF and formal training institutions) of the Cape Film Commission (1999-2003). He was also a Board Member of the Community Video Education Trust in Cape Town, as well as a member of the International Network for Cultural Diversity. Between 2004 and 2009 he served on the Arts Cabinet of the Small Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) regarding a film component at this annual event. He served on the film jury (Kannapaneel) of the 2007 and 2008 KKNK. During 2007 he was a member of SOCINE (The Brazilian Society for Cinema and Audiovisual Studies). He was also a member of CILECT.  

Recent research involves aesthetic developments in South African and African cinemas.  


Contact details 

martin.botha@uct.ac.za 

(021) 650 2841 

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