About us

Synergy Films is an award-winning, independent South African production company with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London, formed in 1998 by siblings Gerald and Jacqueline Fox, each award-winning filmmakers in their own right.

  • In 2000 Synergy received 11 NTVA Stone Awards in Cape Town, and was a finalist at the Prix Italia for its documentaries on young South African artists.
  • In 2001 Synergy won the coveted RAI-FAO (UN) Award at the Prix Italia for Together We Can, a documentary on Aids in South Africa, commissioned by the United Nations and broadcast worldwide.
  • Synergy Films were finalists at Zanzibar, New York and Tokyo Film Festivals.
  • Sitting Ducks was the company’s first feature film, screened in 2003 at the Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim.
  • In 2012 Mandela: The World That Made Him, the company’s tribute to the late legendary former South African President, won the Angel Film Award for Peace and Best Short Documentary at the Monaco Film Festival.
    • Screened to Critical acclaim on Mandela day 2012 at the Mandela Square Sandton in Johannesburg and throughout that week.
    • launched with a special screening at Cannes Film Festival 2012.
    • Screened as part of the South African film foundation Program at Festival Hall London during the 2012 Olympics.

In 2012 Jacqui and Gerald Fox were honored with the Inyathelo Award for their works in Education, Human Rights Support and their enormous efforts to improve living conditions in the squatter camps of South Africa.


Jacqui Fox Director and Producer

Jacqueline Fox studied at the Universitie of the Witwatersrand and Cape Town, where she graduated with a First Class Honors Degree. She trained at the National Film School in UK, on their EEC Directors Course for Women and at the New York Film Academy in the US.

Filming credits include LWT’s South Bank Show and the SABC co-production, New South African Artists, which was awarded Series Finalist at the New York Film Festival and was also a Prix Italia finalist.

At the NTVA Stone Awards in Cape town in November 200, Jacqueline was honored with awards for Best Director, Best Art Director and her production was awarded a Gold Certificate for Best Production and Best Cinematography for Brett Bailey – the film, Fused Landscapes. She was also awarded a Silver Award for South Africa’s New Directors for Cape Jive, which she produced.

Her documentary on the Aids pandemic affecting the youth of South Africa, Together We Can, won the Prix Italia and was a Granarola finalist.

Jacqueline represented South Africa on the Prix Italia jury, and in 2003 was nominated President of the Documentary Jury.

In 2004, she was recognized with an award for Outstanding Contribution to South African Film at the Wine Country film Festival in San Francisco.

Her latest offering Mandela: The World That Made Him, a tribute to the late legendary former South African President, won the Angel Film Award for Peace and Best Short Documentary at the Monaco Film Festival in 2012.

Jacqui Fox

Gerald Fox

Gerald Fox is an award winning British arts documentary director and artist who has made over fifty films and created television series about artists, photographers, writers, film directors and musicians for Channel 4 and ITV.

His South Bank Show film about Gilbert and George won a BAFTA, a Royal Television Society Best Arts Film Award and The Grand Prize at The Festival of Films on Art in Montreal.

His film, Children of the Dump about children who photograph their lives on the rubbish dump of Guatemala City won Best Documentary at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in both the Adult and Children’s Categories and The Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival.

His feature length film about Bret Easton Ellis was released theatrically in the US and UK and his film about Robert Frank Leaving Home Coming Home won the FIFA Grand Prize in Montreal, the RTS Best Arts Award and The Grierson Award for Best Arts Documentary 2005 and was successfully screened at the Rotterdam, Tribeca and Viennale Film Festivals.

He has also directed a Warner Brothers television film and ITV drama series, a low-budget independent comedy and a film, made with his sister Jacqui, about youth and AIDS in South Africa which won a prestigious Prix Italia Award in 2001.

In 2008 he created his first one man film installation show entitled Living London at the 176 Gallery in London to wide critical acclaim and has followed it up with further installation museum and gallery shows in Venice and London. In 2010 he made the feature film Mother’s Milk, critically well received in The Guardian, Observer and Independent newspapers and which recently won eight Angel Awards at the Monaco Film Festival 2013 including Best Feature Film and Best Director.

He is currently working on a feature documentary about legendary American video artist, Bill Viola, and another about artist Marc Quinn.

In 2012 Gerald won with his sister Jacqui the coveted South African Inyathelo Award for their work improving living conditions in the informal settlements and townships of Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Gerald Fox

"Mandela: The World That Made Him" a unique award-winning documentary on the early years of Nelson Mandela released worldwide on the internet!

As a tribute to the founding father of South Africa's democracy and to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, South African film company Synergy Films is releasing Mandela: The World That Made Him worldwide for online viewing.

BAFTA and Prix Italia award-winning filmmakers and arts series producers Jacqueline Fox and Gerald Fox present this poetic 24 minute documentary which takes the viewer on a cinematic journey into the birthplace and childhood landscape of Africa's greatest ever statesman. The film, transmitted this week on the SABC to commemorate his death, depicts the sheer beauty and cultural richness of Qunu, the spiritual home of Mandela and the place to which he will be taken for burial this coming Sunday.

In the spirit of Ubuntu (I am, because we are) which speaks to our basic sense of humanity and kindness, The Mandela Film Project aims to make a worldwide call to action in remembrance of this inspiring global icon. It asks the viewer to 'Make your Mark on the World around You' by tapping into your own innate sense of humanity.

Indeed it was the inspiration of Mandela, his unique ability to forgive others and promote peace and understanding even amongst former enemies, which lead Jacqueline Fox to become the socially minded filmmaker she is today. It also made Gerald Fox want to give something tangible back to the country of his birth. And it is the simplicity of this film which delves into the tribal roots and deep-seated moral traditions that transformed Mandela from a rural boy into the unique leader he later became that hopefully will inspire everyone who views it.

This film invites you through a combination of stunning images of the magical Transkei countryside, vibrant dance sequences, charming poems and voice-over readings from his own writings (most particularly from his inspiring book Conversations with Myself) as well as precious archive footage of Nelson Mandela himself to discover the true significance of the people, culture, and environment which created South Africa's first black President. He grew up surrounded by tribal chieftains, warrior lords and village elders who imbued him with a sense of leadership, public service and destiny that fortified him through the dark years of imprisonment on Robben Island and later as leader of the nation and as a prime force for good throughout the world.

This film won the coveted Angel Film Award for Peace and Best Short Documentary at the Monaco International Film Festival in December 2012.

Jacqui and Gerald Fox also together created the first ever arts documentary series for South African television which won many South African Stone Awards and was also shown in the UK on ITV's prestigious South Bank Show. They also made the film Together We Can for the United Nations about youth and AIDS in South Africa which received the important RAI-FAO Award at The Prix Italia in 2001.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has given its full support and co-operation to the making of this film.

The website will also uniquely offer live streaming images from Qunu in the days leading to the funeral and also on the day itself.


The Making of Mandela: The World That Made Him

There's barely a soul in the world that could claim to have no knowledge or sense of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Yet so much of the man behind the legend remains a mystery.

We know that despite the gravity of his life’s mission, he had a lightness of being.

We know that he had a defined sense of right and wrong. And we know, for sure, what he sacrificed to make wrongs right.

But he was not the only one to do so. Many other great political figures fought apartheid over several decades. What was it that made him so different which led him to be so revered? This is the question that led to the making of Mandela: The World that Made Him, says Director/Producer Jacqueline Fox who collaborated with her brother Gerald Fox on this film. Seeking the answer led her to Qunu, childhood home of the man who, she says, seemed a mythic figure yet inspired the then student at Wits University to take an active role in the anti-apartheid movement of the1980s and later, to play a vital role in the country’s arts and filmmaking sector. As a post-grad Jacqueline wrote and directed ‘How Long Crossroads’ a political play based in the Crossroads squatter camp outside Cape Town. The play was improvised with actors at the height of apartheid who lived in utter squalor in makeshift tents before finally being bulldozed to the ground leaving them destitute and homeless. At this time she was also involved in the launch of the UDF (United Democratic Front) movement.

As well as attending the official inauguration Jacqueline was fortunate enough to share more than one memorable encounter with Mandela. But the fascination only grew as the man described as an ‘icon of humanity’ proved his detractors wrong and lived up to the myth. She was inspired by Mandela and his contemporaries to bring justice and democracy to the system, ‘I just couldn't; stand the lack of humanity.’

Gerald Fox, Jacqueline's brother, meanwhile put on plays about South Africa (written by black South African playwrights like Zakes Mda) while studying at Harvard and Oxford Universities and later made films and programmes for television on South African musicians like Hugh Masekela, and Bheki Mseleku as a way of informing people outside the country about the plight of its disenfranchised majority.

‘I was always inspired by the ideals and example of Mandela who I knew a little about from some older friends I knew as a child,’ he commented. Together Jacqueline and Gerald went on to create the first ever arts documentary series, Synergy: New South African Artist, shown successfully on ITV’s The South Bank Show in Britain and the SABC in South Africa. It looked at the emerging arts in the country after the end of apartheid and featured among others young dancer/choreographers like Vincent Mantsoe and Boyzie Cekwana and theatre director Brett Bailey. The series won several awards and was really inspired by Mandela’s energy and commitment to creating a new, unified society in South Africa.

Jacqueline also made the UN/Prix Italia winning United Nations commissioned documentary ‘Together We Can’ about youth and AIDS in South Africa with Gerald which really tried to change the perceptions to that terrible disease in the country and banish the stigma attached to it by so many young people, again something that was inspired by the example set by Mandela in this regard. Mandela was horrified by the scourge of AIDS and the reaction by his successors to this terrible disease. In 2001 the film was screened at the UN headquarters during the worlds Aids conference and featured on world aids day that year.

The film made an impact on young people everywhere and inspired Jacqueline and Gerald to create soup kitchens for AIDS sufferers and rebuild houses, schools and community halls in squatter camps and townships throughout the country, particularly in Khayelitsha and Orange Farm.

Finally, Jacqueline wanted to make a tribute to the man himself and so decided to look at his beginnings in the Eastern Cape and discover the traditions and practices that had shaped him so they travelled there to make this film.

The world's fascination with Madiba led to a wealth of publicity and information on the man – but though much has been said, ‘There's still little we know of what motivated and moved him, and that's what Mandela: The World that Made Him wanted to tap into.’ Says Jacqueline.

‘We wanted it to be a spiritual take on his life: to know what formed him, and find out why he was so different to everyone else.’

‘Take a journey with us, back to the Qunu of Madiba's birth and formative years – we can't promise you'll uncover the mystery behind the legend. But we know you’ll be inspired.’:- Jacqueline & Gerald Fox

The Project

The aim of the Mandela Film project to inspire the viewer to ‘Make your Mark on the World around You’. To complement the documentary we have up to date footage available and will have a camera team at Mandela’s funeral in Qunu and the surrounding area capturing events as they take place.

We have already filmed:

  • Interviews with the youth of South Africa on what it means to be born in a free South Africa and their opinions on the Mandela legacy
  • Footage of celebrations in Soweto
    • local reactions at Mandela’s house in Houghton
    • Interviews and reminiscences, singing, etc. outside the house itself
  • Memorial service at FNB stadium in Soweto
  • Interviews with local and international people on Mandela’s values, legacy, and how his legacy can be taken forward
  • Thoughts around current leadership and questions on do they uphold Mandela’s values
  • Visuals of people laying wreaths in Soweto and the Union Building
  • Members of the public queuing to view the body lying in state
  • Interviews with insiders about the man

(Most footage in English some in local vernacular)

Planned Filming

  • Main interview with chief of Mandela clan Phakamile Holomisa and a former veteran who worked with Mandela
  • Short interviews with individuals around Ounu and local area including all cultural events taking place prior to funeral, following Poet Laureate Zolani Mkhiva in the lead up to funeral and funeral day itself

This footage is available to purchase for broadcast, streaming etc

Contact; synergyfilms@yahoo.co.uk Jacqueline +44 7939952545

Charities

Mandela Children’s Hospital

Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust, a family dedicated to care

The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital represents the culmination of a lifetime committed to fighting for the basic rights of all South Africans, in this case, specifically the rights of children to proper specialist care.

'A Children's Hospital will be a credible demonstration of the commitment of African Leaders to place the rights of children at the forefront. Nothing less would be enough.' ; Nelson Mandela

Website: http://www.nelsonmandelachildrenshospital.org/

To Donate: http://www.nelsonmandelachildrenshospital.org/donate-now/


Orange Farm Musical Group

Siyabonga Multi-Purpose & Telecentre is an organization set up by Percy Fox Foundation to use the facilities to train children into music especially to pay tribute to Tata Nelson Mandela.

Located just about 60km from the heart of Johannesburg, Orange Farm is an ethnically diverse low-income community of 300,000 that has been largely left behind in the economic boom that has transformed neighbouring communities. Siyabonga Multi-Purpose offers a broad range of technology-related services that aim to allow all children in our community to take advantage of the educational and economic opportunities created by information technologies.

We would highly appreciate if our efforts could be considered by well-wishers world-wide and join hands with us in assisting the vulnerable children.

For more information: siyatele@workmail.co.za

Contact

For any press enquires please contact press@mandelafilmproject.com

If you would like to get involved with the project, syndicate our films, or find out about any upcoming projects please contact getinvolved@mandelafilmproject.com