BY TENDAI SAUTA Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation ministry secretary Thokozile Chitepo has challenged motion picture creatives and their supporting industries to unite and create innovative universally-selling film products to shore up the Zimbabwean economy.
Officially launching the Unesco African Film Industry report on behalf of Minister Kirsty Coventry at a well-attended event at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Diamond Lecture Theatre last Tuesday Chitepo said: “The report is an eye-opener as it reveals a number of issues including the potential revenue and jobs that can be generated from this sector if we all take the film sector seriously. While the sector currently accounts for US$5 billion in revenue and employs five million people on the continent, the report estimates that the film and audio-visual industry in Africa could create 20 million jobs and generate US$20 billion in revenue annually.”
Chitepo added that: “The report also provides a roadmap to assist African States in developing and implementing appropriate policies to develop the industry in a sustainable manner. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and opportunities, as well as strategic recommendations for the growth of the film and audio-visual industry in Africa.
“I need to underline the fact that Zimbabwe values the film industry so much that it gives voice to cultural heritage narratives on Zimbabweans through its creations. It is for this reason that the National Arts, Culture and Heritage Policy, the National Culture and Creative Industries Strategy, including the National Development Strategy (2021-2025) prioritise the arts and culture as critical and handmaiden to nation building.”
Chitepo also thanked Unesco for providing a report whose data reveals challenges and opportunities in the film industry which will enable governments to quickly take action in areas that needs attention.
UZ Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities Fainos Mangena said the Unesco African Film Industry report was meant to provide a platform for stakeholders to reflect on the current situation and its suitability for advancement, share experiences and views on the development of the film industry, to provide a platform for stakeholders to present their priorities on policy reviews in line with their visions and following up on issues discussed.
In his welcome remarks UZ Vice-Chancellor Paul Mapfumo said film was a vital tool in providing technological innovations, employment creation and evidenced-based implementations through research images which provide traceable truth on growth. To this end the UZ now boasts a vibrant Creative Media and Communication department which has Degree programmes in film and television integrated to other arts and business subjects.
Mapfumo said creativity in the film industry transformed the industry into producing export quality products, while creating good partnerships and linkages.
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Film curators must be able to produce ideas, commercialise and market them.
“Art is about creativity and setting new horizons of imagination,” he said.
Francesco Gomez, who read a speech on behalf of Unesco’s regional director and representative Lidia Arthur Brito, said Unesco believed no development could be truly sustainable without a human-centred approach.
Unesco is, therefore, committed to support the film industry at grassroots and corporate levels.
“Over the years, Unesco has worked with member States to strengthen statistical information gathering mechanisms in the cultural field by supporting the efficient and relevant collection of data on the cultural sector. These data help to inform policy developments around the world as well as to monitor the evolution of culture as a sector of activity.
“The African Film Industry report that we are launching today is a product of such statistical information gathering mechanisms. For the first time, a complete mapping of the film and audio-visual industry in 54 States of the African continent is available, including quantitative and qualitative data and analysis of their strengths and weaknesses at the continental and regional levels,” said Gomez.
Speaking through the Zoom messaging platform award-winning film maker Tsitsi Dangarembwa encouraged a slow but determined formaliation of the sector.
Dangarembwa said to formalise is to minute what is permitted and what is not. It means regulating quantity and quality.
The film industry is a source of individual and national income because a well-funded film employs many people, which called for a proper sector formalisation and policy formulation.
One of the panelist named Vimbayi also said because the film sector had a socio-economic potential, there was need to formalise it in order to perfectly fit it into mainstream economies.
Film actor Amanda Ranganawa said: “The Unesco report showed us that the film industry has a lot to offer our country and the African continent in terms of income generation and job creation. However, these are things that as filmmakers we have always known.
“So the greater insight I had is the effort put in place to show how valuable the industry is and the challenges it is facing. These challenges I believe can be best solved by investing in the Zimbabwean film industry.
“It is very important for the industry to get as much financial support as it can in order for it to generate the billions that were projected in the Unesco report.”
Music Crossroads director, Melody Zambuko said the Unesco African Film Industry report should be incorporated into the Zimbabwe’s National Music Strategy 2022-2027.
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