Film industry yearns for better prospects in 2018

LOCAL filmmakers are looking forward to a new trajectory that will see the growth of the film industry.


Zimbabwe International Film and Festival Trust (ZIFFT) executive director, Nigel Munyati predicted the growth on the strength of the work done on the ground by the industry’s stakeholders.

“Given the rate at which Zimbabweans are now producing film, the local film sector will soon evolve into an industry,” he said, adding that over 30 films received for the festival came from Zimbabwe.

Several filmmakers, who spoke to NewsDay, said 2017 was a difficult year primarily due to poor funding and investment into the production of films.

“This year (2017) proved to be a tough year. I only released a few productions due to lack of adequate funding.
This still hinders the industry’s growth. If the situation doesn’t change very few films will be released in 2018 and we are likely to see a drastic decline of National Arts Merits Awards (Nama) entries as witnessed in 2016,” Malon Murape said.

Murape released Matope a movie that partially resurrected the career of Lawrence “Mdara Bhonzo” Simbarashe after he had struggled to get funds to produce bulk DVDs.

Masvingo-based filmmaker, Donovan Takaendesa, concurred: “My year was not that good. Many things did not come out exactly as I expected and as per plan due to lack of capital. We tried plan B and C, but this did not work. We then reduced budgets to zero and our films lost their weight. We, however, thank God for the little we did.”

Brian Kugara, a filmmaker from Chitungwiza, was forced to move to South Africa to work for equipment and to fund his productions.

“We only did two pilot projects, Maroro and The Grid because we did not have enough equipment. We did not get funds so we ended up self-funding the projects and we hope to finish shooting in 2018,” he said.

The director of a television series, Muzita Rababa, Shem Zemura, revealed that film production was very costly and said his company tried to engage the corporate world for funding, but with no luck.

“We have been trying to engage the corporate world to invest in our productions, but it was clear that they were not ready to partner with us. They don’t yet believe in the newly reborn industry,” he said.

Zemura, who will be releasing Kushata Kwemoyo this year, also bemoaned lack of government support in 2017 not only in terms of funding, but creating a conducive environment to promote the film industry.

“It is still very difficult to get clearance to shoot or use government premises like hospitals and schools. In the end, we are restricted to shooting family dramas at our homes,” he said.

Murape said the state of affairs has seen filmmakers struggling to earn a living from their sweat and this was even made worse by the undying scourge of piracy.

“Filmmakers are still struggling to earn a living from their hard work. We sold the first batch of Matope well, but by the time we wanted to print the second one, the movie had been heavily pirated. Selling DVDs alone is, therefore, not paying. This has seen some filmmakers opting for soaps and TV series which are better income generators,” he said.

Rising Murehwa-based filmmaker, Ngonidzashe Chiyangwa has high expectations that the new government will help in transforming the film sector.

Bulawayo-based filmmaker Nigel Ndlovu, however, believes that change will only come if filmmakers take charge in bringing the much-needed change.

“I don’t see anything changing in our sector. Only we can change our plight. I will personally work hard and fund my production until it’s done. I won’t rely on the government. I approached several companies and they did not buy into my vision,” he said.

Ndlovu said establishment of the proposed film commission would be threatened by disunity in the film sector and urged filmmakers to unite.

“As long as it takes the sector forward, it’s necessary, but I am worried by lack of unity among ourselves. There is also need to have more festivals and to create a vibrant culture so that audiences follow our craft,” he said.

Zemura concurred with Ndlovu that without unity, problems affecting the film sector will remain.

“As long as we don’t unite and speak with one voice, 2018 will be like any other year. We have had many structures in the industry and organisations. The same reasons those structures, organisations and documents did not work is the same reason why the commission won’t work,” he said.

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