Arnold Shepperson and Keyan Tomaselli
Cinema covers a wide range of activities, ranging from the glamour and drama of production, through the technical wizardry of postproduction, to the humdrum business of distribution and exhibition. Alongside these are additional sectors like publicity, training of personnel for the various functions, and finally the whole film criticism subsector covering magazines, trade publications, and newspapers. In addition, there are supply companies that provide equipment and technology--cameras, lighting, editing, film stock, and so on. In general, these multiple activities constitute an "industry." The film industry is a sector of economic activity in which sometimes widely disparate activities result in a coherent set of value-added products and services for public and trade consumption.
Markets and distributors outside the United States tend to be narrower and less wealthy than their American counterparts. However, this only means that domestic viewers see fewer indigenous productions; distribution and exhibition systems readily absorb the U.S. products and operate profitably with this resource. Governments may step in to counter the preponderance of U.S. titles by providing financial incentives for locals to produce "indigenous" cinema-- tax breaks and/or subsidies. They can also provide disincentives--screen quotas and/or state ownership of the means of production--to the spread of imported titles.
The South African situation is a significant example because of the relation between cinema arrangements prior to 1990 and those that emerged from the very high-profile political changes after 1990. We examine the transition from apartheid to beyond in relation to the conditions that existed before 1990, using a political-economic framework. Changes in ownership patterns of the existing systems of distribution and exhibition, and how the new players in the field may alter or reproduce relationships that had become cemented dur-