In an attempt to prove their skills amid numerous calls for standard Malawian content by different audiences, including television channels, film-makers are out of bed.
In an interview with Chill, president of Film Association of Malawi (Fama), Ezaius Mkandawire, said they have organised a film festival, dubbed Cinema Malawi/African Film Festival, which is aimed at sharpening the skills of the country’s film-makers.
The event is scheduled for October 23 to 25 at Lilongwe’s Madsoc Theatre.
“This is a master class where people will make presentations, discussions and practicals related to film production. But we want to be relevant in the way that participants will decide what should be discussed at the workshop,” said Mkandawire.
Fama has partnered with Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) and the Malawi Polytechnic’s Management Centre on the workshop.
Mkandawire described the workshop as a positive step towards realising an industry that can supply genuine and professional Malawian content to both local and international audiences.
Last month, Zambezi Magic came all the way from South Africa to challenge the country’s film-makers to produce reliable local stories that could make it on their channel.
Zambezi Magic’s head Addiel Dzino said Malawi was one of the potential African countries which could supply authentic stories to the channel.
However, most local film directors, actors and actresses have bemoaned the growing tendency of working in isolation.
Fama and independent or private film-makers were reported to be in a dog-and-cat affair, a development which poses a major hindrance to the development of the country’s film industry.
A source confided in Chill that most of the independent film-makers do not benefit from Fama programmes apart from interactions at meetings or workshops.
“Some of the country’s independent film-makers are not on the same wavelength with Fama because they don’t understand its systems. Yet these are the experienced film-makers who can make substantial contributions to both Fama and the entire film industry in Malawi.
“Unless professional film makers and Fama understand each other better, Malawi film will not improve,” challenged the source.
Actor Tawonga Nkhonjera said the major problem in Malawi’s film industry is not money, but issues to do with working style.
“We work in isolation. So, how can we achieve a common goal as the industry or country?” he queried.
But he is quick to point out that the impending Malawi Film Festival will create a platform where film-makers will come together and iron out some of the pressing challenges that were facing the country’s film industry.
“My experience is that at film festivals, apart from learning about cinema and film making from watching different films by different directors. It is also a conducive atmosphere to discussing business, potential collaborations, creating networks and laying the building blocks for the future development, especially for our baby industry,” he said.
While concurring with other film makers that the Cinema Malawi/African Film Festival will cultivate mutual relationship among professionals, Pascal Bagaluza of Uceda Film Company feared that the initiate might goof due to lack of support and commitment.
“To be honest, this initiative is nice which can help to enhance the local film industry and I will be happy if this will work. All the same, I doubt if this will continue due to lack of love and support that Malawians have towards their fellow Malawians. I am not wrong to say that we have never had a government that supports film makers in Malawi. Anything parable that they use as a support is always on their advantage to campaign their elections,” said Bagaluza. He challenged Fama and government to wow investors that could face-lift the country’s film industry without favour or bias.
“As Malawi, we have had enough of shops owned by Indians, Nigerians, Burundians, Rwandese, Chinese and Pakistanis. Why can’t we try the film industry?” said Bagaluza.
He also called for a mutual working relationship between Fama and independent or private film makers, saying the current gap poses a great harm to the growth of the industry.
On his part, Lilongwe-based filmmaker Benedict Sam of Bensam Entertainment described the Cinema Malawi/African Film Festival as a platform for up-and-coming film makers to showcase their talents and learn from others.n