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Million-dollar film studio to put SA on movie map

Cape Town Film Studios, initially named Dreamworld, lies 25 km east of its namesake city. It is the country's largest ever investment in its film industry, which employs more than 20,000 people.

world Updated: Jan 13, 2009 16:57 IST

When actor Nicolas Cage made love to Bridget Moynahan in the 2005 hit "Lord of War", a pungent smell still hung over the old Cape Town fertiliser plant-turned-movie studio where the scene was filmed.

Even its chief executive Nico Dekker said the site opposite a sewerage works was a "stinky" and "hellish" place.

Yet the revamped factory helped turn South Africa into a top-notch movie-making spot, attracting filmmakers from around the world and showing the time was right to build a whole new multi-million dollar complex.

Construction recently started to turn 200 hectares (nearly 500 acres) near pristine wetlands and lush Cape vineyards into Africa's first state-of-the art studio worthy of Hollywood or Bollywood.

"It is like manna, honey to the bees. It positions us as believing in the future of film-making in Africa," Dekker told AFP.

Cape Town Film Studios, initially named Dreamworld, lies 25 km east of its namesake city. It is the country's largest ever investment in its film industry, which employs more than 20,000 people.

Hope runs high it will boost the sector's annual earnings from the current one billion rand ($10 million) to as much as four times that amount.

And with one of the largest Indian communities outside India, South Africa is big on Bollywood. Indian producers have flocked to film on location here in recent years and the new studio is expected to attract even more.

Bollywood producer Kumar Taurani spent three months in South Africa last year shooting the action thriller "Prince of Thieves", after 45 days in 2007 filming the blockbuster "Race" in what he describes as a "hassle free shoot".