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Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 15:40 GMT
Cameroon's sleepy cinema industry
Ako Abunaw
Abunaw sets his sights on foreign competitors
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By the BBC's Francis Ngwa Niba in Yaounde

A husband-and-wife team of Cameroonian filmmakers is taking on the challenge of reviving the country's sleepy cinema industry.

Ako and Joyce Abunaw, who are now working on their third film together, are determined to get Cameroonians watching local productions.

The Abunaws are the best thing that ever happened to Cameroon's film industry

A film fan

But the problem, says Ako Abunaw, is that the home market has been flooded with Nigerian films, which are particularly popular in Cameroon's English-speaking areas.

Nigerian productions, he says, have a "sublime mysticism" about them: They deal with controversial subjects such adultery and witchcraft.

'Potent Secrets'

The Abunaws, who were educated in the USA, are challenging Nigeria's dominance by tackling taboo subjects themselves.

Their second film "Potent Secrets" deals with male impotence and its effects on a marriage.

Cameroonian audience
Those who could see the screen liked the film

"Many people liked it because women are usually blamed for not bearing children in a marriage," says Joyce Abunaw, who wrote the script and starred in the film.

The couple is now working on a big anti Aids project entitled "Scenarios from Cameroon", sponsored by the British Council.

Ako Abunaw says another problem for Cameroonian filmmakers is the lack of corporate sponsors.

If businessmen understood that there was money to be made in films, he says, Cameroon's cinema industry would thrive and rival Nigeria's.

'Keep trucking'

The couple's efforts have been welcomed by a many people.

A film fan from Bamenda, David Tanyi, says: "The Abunaws are the best thing that's ever happened to Cameroon's film industry".
Joyce and Ako Abunaw
The Abukaws are optimistic

Others point out that reviving Cameroonian cinema will take time.

Ako Abunaw is certainly under no illusion about the daunting task he faces, but he remains optimistic.

"You keep trucking" he says - adding with a laugh that the Americans use that phrase to mean they'll continue to fight despite the odds.

See also:

22 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Cameroon
28 Feb 02 | Business
Cameroon telecom firm sold
20 Feb 02 | Africa
Cameroonians follow 'Aids healer'
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