Stakeholders in the film industry, led by the Film Association of Malawi (Fama), have developed a national strategy which aims at offering guidelines to the country’s industry. The guide is, among other things, asking government to have special funds allocated to the industry and offer guidelines to international investors.
The development follows a film conference held in Lilongwe that drew together different stakeholders including filmmakers, academicians, policy makers, government officials and actors.
According to Fama president Ezaius Mkandawire, the highlight of the conference was the formulation of a strategy, which is going to guide people investing in the film sector.
“It’s a guide that allows government to decide where to strategically pump in money. One of the emerging issues at the conference was the need for government to put money in the film industry just like it has done with sports for example.
“Government acknowledges that the creative sector in Malawi about 3.46 percent of the GDP, which is about K30 billion. Government needs to set aside a film fund to help support that growth of the industry. Countries that have witnessed great results in the film sector have had an investment at the beginning of the equation. The nature of capitalisation may be film grants, film funds, loans or bank guarantees,” said Mkandawire.
Other than that, the conference also asked government to create a conducive legal framework that will encourage filmmakers in the country and not suppress them.
“Our government has to quickly enact laws that protect the industry and not stifle its growth. For example, the Censorship Act needs to be changed to Classification Act, the Copyright Act re-enacted immediately. Government has to do all this for the growth of the industry which will uplift the nation economically.
“Of course, with this paper in hand, we know that the major culprit in terms of not implementing decisions is the government, but we will make sure everything is followed as the document will be championed by us,” stated Mkandawire.
Almost all the challenges that are associated with the establishment of the film industry in the country, can be attributed to the absence of relevant policies, such as a National Cultural Policy.
The draft policy notes that as much as tourism and the industry’s development are set aside as priority areas in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and the Economic Recovery Plan, the industry does not have a set of policy guidelines that will guide its development as well as the social economic status of Malawians.