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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 12:55 GMT
What is the future of African films?
This week Fespaco, Africa's prestigious festival of film and television, takes place in Burkina Faso.
It comes at a time of cheaper and better technology, benefiting Africa's low budget filmmakers. But the majority of African filmgoers continue to watch Indian and American films.
What kind of movies do you want to watch and does it matter about their origin? Do you want something that reflects your personal circumstances?
Or would you prefer to escape with romance or adventure?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Ruth Gilbert, UK
I am sick and tired of watching the American and Indian films available in Ethiopia. If you watch a single Indian film I think that is enough because all the others are the same monotonous love stories. And American films? In most places we have films from the late 50's because the recent ones are too expensive to import. I am of the opinion that Africans should seriously think about developing their own film industry rather than importing monotonous or otherwise outdated films from outside.
Most people watch films for a few hours of entertainment. It's a simple rule of human behaviour that the more entertaining a film, the more watched it will be. As long as African films fail to dramatically entertain their audiences, the more entertaining Hollywood and Bollywood films will thrive.
I agree with Michael's comments about the Iranian film industry. I just saw "The Drunken Horses", the first movie to be produced in Kurdish. This movie was inexpensive, showing the real physical setting with no special effects. It was noticed at Cannes and is having a successful run in Canada. There is a huge appetite for good non-Hollywood films here in this country. I hope that African film makers will get the funding and support required to bring their stories to the screen. We've had lots of jungles and wildlife - let's have some cinema that captures the everyday life of real Africans.
Want to see Hollywood in Africa? Watch Nigerian movies and you will be happy you did. African actors have really come of age. Enough of Western "civilization".
In order for the African film industry to flourish it has to be commercially viable, and that prospect seems distant despite abundant talent on the continent. We need to enact and enforce copyright laws to protect the intellectual rights of films makers, improve distribution of African films and remove high taxes that overburden the film industry.
Many bright amateur film writers in Africa don't know where and how to market their scripts. They've heard talk of the lies and treachery that go on in Hollywood, and are afraid to submit their scripts to agencies they don't know in case their ideas are stolen and there is nothing they can do about it. A home-grown African initiative should be launched that will encourage young film writers to submit their scripts and the best scripts will be marketed for them. This is probably the only way out for budding film-makers who have no idea of how to get started in the industry.
Simon Banda, UK
The time has come for Africans to see movies made by them and for them. I'm sick of seeing the continent exploited in Tarzan, Virus, Congo-like movies, where Africans are portrayed as savages, the enemy or servant of Westerners. I applaud the increase in African films and may it be 100 times more so that our people won't feel that only Hollywood and Bollywood are capable of making movies.
The most popular movies in Nigeria are Nigerian movies, not Indian or American. No one hardly watches Indian movies anymore and the American ones are mostly watched on cable channels.
Sedinam Akpedonu, Ghana
I believe that African cinema is
something that has to be encouraged.
There are plenty of talented local
actors and actresses and
governments should invest in local
filmmaking efforts to encourage more African
I am an African film school graduate. There are technically very few successful African films. The reason is partly due to inadequate editing facilities and exposure to technological advancement seen in Indian and American films. Most African films are shot on video: Betacam, Super 8 and Digital betacam because of lack of adequate funds to shoot on 16mm and 35mm. For some time to come Hollywood and Indian films will continue to steal the show. Change can only come faster if Africans start watching more African films and politicians put in more money to support the initiatives of film-makers.
Michael Brodie, UK
I guess Eddie is playing to the old popular assumption that Africa is awash with foreign films.
There has been a wind of change blowing. And I can confidently vouch for Ghana and Nigeria.
In these two countries locally made films, by local directors with local stars are
dominant. There has been a steady reduction over the past 8 years or so
in the amount of Hollywood junk and Indian movies. Thanks to new and cheap video
technologies, these locals are using the opportunity to give us African stories.
Let us recognise their efforts and give them due credit even if there is still more
room for improvement in picture quality and story plot
I'm an Indian residing in Kigali, Rwanda. I teach English at Kigali Institute of Science, Technology
and Management. My students are quite aware of what is happening in the Indian film industry and they know the names of many of the actors and actresses. That is the impact of the Indian film industry on them. In Africa people are very fond of entertainment but unfortunately they are forced to watch Western and Indian movies as they don't have many made in their own continent.
It is no surprise that Indian and Western films are more popular than African ones, because of the affinity for exotic places that are more interesting and funny. Africans need to develop their own films with the aid of government and international aid. The film industry in Africa is growing very fast but it is mainly Western oriented films that teach bad moral values.
23 Feb 01 | Africa
Film talent gathers in Ouagadougou
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