durban film studio
Natal Command Site which will soon be home to multibillion rand Durban film Studio.

Construction of the Durban Film Studio will start soon after having been put on hold for several years.

The multi-billion rand project is expected to change the face of the province and turn the eThekwini metro into the heart of the creative industry. It is estimated to cost R7.5-billion.

But Durban filmmaker Mathew Nkosi said it had been a long wait for the film studio to take off, and its resuscitation had come as a relief to artists in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The project was proposed 10 years ago, and nothing has materialised. If done right, this will be a game changer for us as emerging filmmakers who must go to Johannesburg for our work to be recognised.

“Durban is an international city, and a project of this magnitude is long overdue. But we are beginning to see signs of hope because we have productions such as Uzalo and Imbewu, which are produced on our shores,” said Nkosi.

The film studio is situated on a prime beach-front site, surrounded by the Sun Coast Casino, People Park, the Moses Mabhida Stadium and the beach in the north.

The spokesperson for eThekwini Metro, Msawakhe Mayisela, told Durban Sun that although the project had been delayed it would “get off the ground soon”, saying it was a key catalyst project for the city.

“The project is envisaged to be a world-class film studio complemented by tourism and leisure elements. The sod turning of this much-awaited development supporting the film and tourism industry is expected to occur soon,” he said.

Read also: Top 10 tourist attraction places in Durban

Mayisela said the first phase of the project would consist of a motion picture, media, resort, and entertainment precinct with the potential to create about 4 000 to 5 000 permanent jobs and attract international filmmakers. It is the brainchild of renowned Durban-born film director Anant Singh.

The 21ha land was sold by the city for R15 million, but the deal was legally challenged by the late businessman Sunny Gayadin, who argued that the land was worth R71 million.

He lost his court bid.

The site in question was formerly the headquarters of the SA Army’s Natal Command and was later occupied by the Joint Operations Division of the South African Defence Force (SANDF).

It had been leased from the metro for the army by the department of public works.

The SANDF themselves lodged a court application, saying the land should not be sold because they had plans for it. The matter was dismissed, and the green light was given for the land to be transferred to the municipality.

About R725 million is expected to be pumped into the city’s economy. This includes more than R140 million annually, which will be collected through rates and other charges.

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