MINISTER of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Jonathan Moyo has expressed concern at the development of local content on the showbiz circuit at the closing ceremony of the 13th edition of the International Images Film Festival (IIFF) for women held at Jameson Hotel over the weekend.
In a speech read on his behalf by the ministry’s director, international communication services, Ivanhoe Gurira, Moyo said the current gap in local content development was a cause for concern.
“It is necessary to underscore the need to expedite the development of local content in view of the mandatory digital broadcasting era that the world will be entering into as from June 2015,” Moyo said.
“For Zimbabwe and other developing nations, digital broadcasting creates an opportunity for more channels and players in broadcasting. However, the current gap in local content development is a cause for concern. It raises the question, ‘whether indeed we are ready for digitalisation’”
Moyo described film festivals such as the IIFF for Women as a significant cultural resource that must be supported for national development.
“Film festivals have become a significant cultural resource which must be appreciated by anyone who enjoys a good movie and by policymakers concerned with the development of the film industry in developing countries and emerging economies,” he said.
Moyo’s sentiments on the country’s preparedness on digitalisation come against the government’s announcement that they were in the process of mobilising resources to enable Transmedia Corporation to spearhead migration to digital broadcasting ahead of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 2015 deadline.
There are fears that Zimbabwe could fail to meet the ITU deadline to migrate to digital broadcasting platforms from the analogue system as Transmedia is reported to be in need of about US$30 million to do so.
Festival director Yvonne Jila said they were happy for the first time to go digital and described the festival as a success.
“Although we have experienced challenges, we were happy that the festival was a success. This was our first year to screen digital as we changed from 35-milimetre celluloid format to digital cinema print,” Jila said.
This year’s edition of the IIFF, held under the theme, Women Alive, Women of Heart showcased 50 international, 20 regional and 20 local short, feature and documentary films.
Local filmmakers had the chance to mix and mingle with other professionals from across the globe and benefited from experiences of Nigerian-born and United Kingdom-based Adeola Solanke, who trained them on some aspects of the trend.
Despite being rocked by poor planning that resulted in the festival organisers’s failing to screen the scheduled opening film Half of a Yellow Sun at Ster-Kenikor Cinema Eastgate in Harare, the closing ceremony was well organised.
At the ceremony some filmmakers and winning films got trophies and certificates, and some categories had monetary prizes.