Documentary Project: Life and Legacy of Harry Themba Gwala

Documentary Project: Life and Legacy of Harry Themba Gwala

Documentary Project: Life and Legacy of Harry Themba Gwala

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), would like to invite TIER 1 and 2 filmmakers ONLY, to submit proposals reflecting on the life and legacy of Harry Gwala. 


From 1960, Gwala was involved in the ANC underground. In 1964, he was imprisoned on Robben Island for sabotage and recruiting for Umkhonto we Sizwe. He was released in 1972 but restricted to Pietermaritzburg. There, he established a laundry collection business as a cover for continued ANC activity and attempts to revive the South African Congress of Trade Unions. In 1975, Gwala was arrested again, this time sentenced to life imprisonment under the Terrorism Act.

”But when people become conscious of what they want, and are prepared to fight for it, those people are free, because what is freedom, if not as Engels says “the realisation of necessity”” – Harry Gwala

2020 has been declared as a year to reflect and commemorate the centenary of his legacy. In response to this, the National Film and Video Foundation is seeking projects that delve into the intricacies of his life as a courageous leader, struggle hero, teacher and father. The call seeks to award funding to the value of R1 000,000 (1 Million Rand only) for the production of one feature-length documentary in keeping with the theme of commemorating Harry Gwala.

Terms of Reference:

The proposals must demonstrate the promotion of Gwala’s values, principles, and aspirations, especially considering his tenacity and fight for justice and equality. Proposals must have a clear central idea, captivating and compelling story, inspiring character/s, a bold visual style, and accurate representation of Gwala’s life.  The film that is produced out of this initiative will have to meet the NFVF’s requirements for content that informs, educates, entertains, and offers unique perspectives of this legacy. Concepts must be production-ready.

Selection Criteria for Projects Proposal

Applications must include:

  • 1-2 page motivation
  • 1-page synopsis
  • Visual Treatment
  • Detailed outline
  • Archive Research Plan
  • CVs of key creative team with showreel/portfolio of work
  • Budget
  • Finance and recoupment plan
  • Proposed development and production schedule
  • Marketing and distribution strategy and plan.


In order for a production company to be considered for this opportunity, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Producer/s must be either a South African citizen or be a permanent resident of South Africa.
  • 51% black-owned and managed companies with a unique proposal.
  • Tier 1/2 Production Company. This is defined in the NFVF Funding Policy as:
  • Tier 1 (Experienced filmmakers who have a proven track record for developing and producing 3-5 feature-length documentary films.)
  • Tier 2 (Filmmakers with limited experience in the film industry, but who have developed and produced 1-2 feature-length films, television fiction and/or, 2-3 documentary short films seeking to venture into feature film development and production)
  • Production company should demonstrate an understanding of packaging and marketing of documentary films.

Who does not qualify?

  • Previous recipients of NFVF slate funding including animation slate, documentary slates, youth and female filmmaker project are NOT eligible for this fund.
  • Individuals and/or Production Companies that have 4 (four) active NFVF funded projects across the value chain i.e. development, production, post-production, marketing and distribution, training, and festival funding support.

Compulsory Requirements:

All applicants must submit the following compulsory documentation:

  • BBBEE certificate.
  • Valid Tax Clearance Certificate or Tax Clearance Status Pin Document (not older than one year) *
  • Recently Certified ID copy (dated certification stamp not older than six months) *
  • Company registration document

Applicants need to register and complete the online application form using the following link:

Failure to submit the above-mentioned compulsory documentations will render the application incomplete and therefore disqualified. The Closing date for applications is 29 January 2021 at 5PM. Any queries maybe directed to

Please note that failure to submit the above mentioned key and compulsory documentation will render the application incomplete and therefore disqualified. No late applications will be accepted.