Experience suggests that the impact of Hollywood on South African film culture may continue to be mixed. Adam Haupt, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, said that in the past, American film actors sometimes have been cast in roles that otherwise might've gone to South African performers. He questions whether successful South African filmmakers and actors may be tempted to leave home to pursue the Hollywood dream. And he asks whether Hollywood's relentless quest to market films to the widest possible global audiences will lead to a watering down of South African content.
Meanwhile, well-regarded contemporary South African (or partly South African) films such as "Tsotsi," Oliver Schmitz's "Hijack Stories" (2000), which raises questions about how U.S. gangster films influence African black male identity, and Ralph Ziman's "Jerusalema" (2008), based on the story of an underworld kingpin, usually struggle to elbow their way into the crowded, costly U.S. and European markets.
Hollywood has already left a heavy cultural footprint in South Africa, Haupt said. As a teenager, he grew up watching imported U.S. films and television hits such as "Miami Vice." "While the townships were burning, you were getting the latest TV shows." What's more, he said, a country that has produced writers such as Coetzee, Fugard and Nadine Gordimer, plus world-renowned musicians, actors and artists, doesn't need Hollywood to fill some imagined cultural vacuum.
But if nothing else, Hollywood's renewed attention suggests that a country that used to be "a world apart" (to borrow the title of Chris Menges' apartheid-era film(film)) is advancing further into global consciousness. "I think it's a bit of a coming of age," Dekker said. "There's a spirit of like we're getting somewhere now."