What was meant to be a discussion aimed at cultivating a business partnership with DStv channel Zambezi Magic turned into a platform where local filmmakers vented their anger at bottlenecks that hinder the film industry.
M-Net, through MultiChoice Malawi, facilitated a meeting between local film directors and Zambezi Magic, which was aimed at soliciting Malawian content for the new television channel. The meeting was held at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre and attracted film directors, actors and musicians.
However, some creators failed to control their frustration at issues that haunt the country’s film industry, washing their dirty linen before the potential client. To them, the coming of the Zambezi Magic is the return of a messiah willing to listen to the woes of Malawi’s film industry.
The issue that garnered heated debate was the ineffectiveness of local arts associations and rightsholder body, the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma).
Actor Mafumu Matiki set the ball rolling by questioning Cosoma’s role and arts associations in safeguarding the social and economic rights of artists.
“I am worried to be represented by some of the country’s arts bodies when it comes to deals of such significance because they have let us down for a long time. Therefore, there must be a way of dealing with individual artists and film directors so that they realise the tangible benefits from their sweat. If local artists are not being well represented on royalties that are administered locally, what more with international TV stations such as Zambezi Magic?” asked Matiki.
The thespian’s assertions were chorused by independent filmmaker Villant Ndasowa, who added that she has been dealing with a number of international clients on an individual level.
Another hot issue which emerged during the meeting was the lack of coordination among local film players.
Actress Flora Suya said: “The biggest challenge in the local film industry is that we work in isolation because everyone wants to be seen as doing great work and wants all the praises to be heaped to him or herself. But this defeats the whole purpose of team work which can positively contribute to the growth of Malawi’s film industry as whole.”
Responding to the growing concerns of the local creators, Multichoice Malawi committed itself to play a facilitating role between artists and arts bodies.
“As MultiChoice, we cannot afford to see Malawi losing this golden opportunity with Zambezi Magic; hence, we will play a facilitation role to ensure that creators and their mother bodies are on the same page,” said Chimwemwe Nyirenda, MultiChoice Malawi marketing manager. n