BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
FILMMAKERS have hailed the recent screening of some local films on DStv’s M-Net Movies Afro-Cinema, a pop-up movie channel that ran for five days last month.
Ten local productions Tete B, Escape, The Gentlemen, Kushata KweMoyo, Death and Other Complications, Sour Milk, Deep Thought, I Will Marry Myself and Chihombiro played on channel 198 from May 25 to 30.
Some filmmakers, who spoke to NewsDay Life & Style, celebrated the move saying it improved the visibility of the local film industry in the region.
Renowned filmmaker and former model Melgin Tafirenyika whose films were also screened said: “We now expect M-Net to relook at Zimbabwean content and purchase more of it. We would sell our content to broadcasters who can realise our potential, whether in Zimbabwe or outside, it is the way to go.”
Actor, Arthur Antonio said apart from eyeing DStv channel to distribute content, translating Zimbabwean films into other languages like Portuguese would help filmmakers tap into new markets.
“I have been trying to push for Portuguese and French translation to enter a new market. Mozambique has two channels and very little local content that can be taken advantage of, just imagine getting about US$3 000 from Mozambique, another US$3 000 from Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively,” he said.
“There is a market that has great potential and that is Africa. Nigerian movies are basically English and that market has been saturated, but if we can do translations producers can manage to pay actors five times more than they are currently doing. Also imagine the revenue the industry will have.”
Another filmmaker-cum-author Tendai Maduwa said the DStv screenings served as a reminder that filmmaking was a business which the government needed to take seriously and invest in.
“Filmmaking is not a hobby, it is a profession like any other and should be treated with adequate respect. It is the only industry that creates jobs for other industries. Many industries feed on it, unfortunately our government has not found interest in investing in it,” he said.
Maduwa said giving a broadcaster content, claiming to be building a film sector without being paid is serious sabotage to the same industry. “We have overqualified, but less resourced practitioners. Resource us and you see wonders. We are not social workers, we are businesspeople. We will give our projects to whoever can pay for them. We have enough content that can match regional standards,” he said.
Film analyst Oswelled Ureke said the screening was worth celebrating and confirmed that Zimbabwe had a film industry which was not connected to the audience.
“We have been largely accustomed to watching South African productions which gave an impression that nothing much was happening in other countries. There has been quite a lot of effort within the local film industry, but perhaps what was missing is that connection with the audience,” he said.
“DStv gave this opportunity for local and international audiences to access our productions. It confirms my belief that Zimbabwe has a functioning film industry, but what was lacking is the visibility of productions as we didn’t have the opportunity to watch these films.”
“The only time they were available (films) to audiences was when they premiered locally. Numerous films are being made, but we never get to see where they go.”
Ureke said there were so many ways of distributing local films.
“A quite huge chunk of diasporas are dying to watch our productions. That is a market available for local filmmakers.
“I have seen filmmakers like Yvonne Tavaziva who showcase their films in public places such as bus termini, they exhibit these films to an already existent audience,” he said.
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