LAST year in July, some filmmakers, actors and academics converged to craft the country’s film industry strategy under the guidance of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.
A 23-member team was assembled and tasked with the production of a policy document.
About a year later, players and stakeholders in the film industry might now have something to smile about amid reports from government that the film industry strategy development is now at an advanced stage.
The film industry strategy is part of a process that began in 2021 designed to be a developmental roadmap that will provide for growth, to achieve professionalism, investment, digitisation and industrialisation in the film sector.
The local film industry has for long been viewed with different lenses, with some analysts saying it is in intensive care while others perceive it to be “clinically” dead.
Acting Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture minister, Tino Machakaire, on Tuesday, reporting to the Cabinet on the progress on projects under the ministry said: “Film strategy development is now at 60% complete and digitisation of the music sector is now at 70% in terms of completion.”
Apart from producing internationally-acclaimed Hollywood stars such as Danai Gurira, Tongayi Arnold Chirisa and Regé-Jean Page, among others, the Zimbabwean film scene is struggling to create a viable industry. The industry cannot at least compete with other African countries such as Zambia, South-Africa and Nigeria.
In recent interviews with NewsDay Life & Style, some filmmakers were optimistic that the strategy would help change the state of the sector.
Veteran actor Stephen “Huni” Chigorimbo said the drafting of the film and television sector strategy was the right step in uplifting the sector.
“We are delighted that the government has heard our plea. The final result is a film policy to guide the officials in government and Film Commission to provide industry needs of production and marketing funding, as well as social needs,” he said.
Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust executive director Nigel Munyati said it was good that the government was now paying attention, after previously turning a deaf ear to proposals from the film industry for decades.
Intwasa Festival director and multi-award-winning playwright Raisedon Baya said: “I think it’s high time we stopped working in silos. Time to come together, have one vision as filmmakers and the film strategy is a starting point.”
Former Big Brother Africa contestant, actor, director, filmmaker and environmentalist Munya Chidzonga believes the film industry strategy is part of the solution to upgrading the film sector.
“The local film industry has enormous potential to seriously contribute to the country’s gross domestic product, but has been suffocating from underfunding and national incapacitation for decades,” Zimbabwe Arts and Culture Industry Association president Boniface Chimedza said.
Renowned scriptwriter, filmmaker and director Joe Njagu noted that the film industry strategy was a positive for a “film community” to get it to transition to an industry, further pointing out that every successful industry anywhere in the world has a strategy and policies that guide it.
Film director, scriptwriter and producer Beauty Nakai Tsuro said: “I think the film and television sector strategy will help the development of our film industry if well executed. It is one thing coming up with a strategy and another making sure what has been laid out works in favour of the sector.”
Speaking on anti-drug and substance abuse, Machakaire said two awareness programmes involving culture and creative industry sector practitioners and the general populace were conducted in Masvingo and Mashonaland West provinces.
“A total of 32 fitness and wellness campaigns have so far been conducted in districts and provinces which include Harare, Tshovane, Chiredzi, Hwange, Lupane, Bulawayo, Mutare, Nyanga, Chipinge, Zaka, Bikita, Masvingo and Bulawayo,” he noted, adding that the project was now 50% complete.
“Further 301 artists were trained in music, visual art and dance, theatre, film and fashion. The number of artists that have been capacitated reflect a 20,6% progress.”
Reporting progress on projects under his purview, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Jenfan Muswere said the undocumented national heroes/heroines obituary productions were ongoing.
“Research is currently underway for the six Chinhoyi battle heroes namely Christopher Chatambudza, Simon Chingozha, Godfree Matsikidze (Dube), Chubby Sawana, Arthur Maramba and Swazini Ndlovu,” he said.
“Anti-sanctions coverage is now complete. Anti-sanctions documentary to indicate the effects of sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe across different sectors has commenced, and the Bioscope Interactive Outreach Programme has been conducted in Mashonaland Central province.”