The African Movie Academy Awards nominations will take place in Malawi in a few weeks. While the anticipated star-studded event takes place in Malawi, there is not much that the country can show for its movie industry apart from a few award winning films such as Seasons of a Life. Cheu Mita finds out what can be done to grow the Malawi film industry.
Nollywood managed to do it by collaborating with Hollywood on a recently premiered film Doctor Bello. With actors such as Vivica A Fox, Isaiah Washington and Genevieve Nnaji, the movie was undoubtedly a star-studded cast. But can that also be a solution for Malawi to grow its film industry?
The mix of American and Nigerian movie stars that took part in the film, shot in the United States of America and Nigeria, would excite lovers of the Nigerian film industry, making the movie a sought after release.
Malawi’s film-maker and writer Shemu Joyah says collaborations could be the way to go as we tend to learn new things from others such as our neighbours.
He says during preparations for his recently premiered movie The Last Fishing Boat, he chose a South African, Peter Palmer, to be director of photography.
“I brought him to Malawi for five days and we went around various places along the lake scouting for locations. Unfortunately, when we started to shoot the film, he was engaged in South Africa on another project; hence, he was not able to come.
“However, I brought in Marian Kunonga as our production manager, Theridah Sewera as our production designer and James Jemwa as our main cameraman from Zimbabwe. I am sure that our Malawian crew learned a lot by interacting with these people. In my next productions, I am looking for a possible financial collaboration with a couple of South African institutions,” shared Joyah.
‘More needs to be done’
But actor and director Joyce Mhango Chavula thinks there is more that needs to be done to the local film industry to make collaborations worthwhile.
“It is possible and it will happen soon, but there is a lot we need to do as Malawi first, like putting our house in order. Our friends in Nollywood are quite advantaged because a number of Nollywood producers are based and plying their trade overseas like US and the like. It is then easy for Nollywood actors to get international opportunities and that is the reason Nollywood movies are selling worldwide,” she says.
With the African Movie Awards nomination ceremony taking place in March in Malawi, Joyah says the main advantage is the exposure Malawi will get.
“We need to take full advantage of this event so that it gives our industry a boost,” says Joyah.
Mhango Chavula agrees with Joyah on taking advantage of the award nomination event.
“AMA is big! Most actors I know in Nollywood boast of an AMA Award which made them work even harder to get more awards elsewhere. Automatically, Malawi is going on the map and it should be a wake-up call for us to produce movies that can compete internationally,” said Mhango Chavula.
She said as someone who has worked with Nollywood actors such as Patience Ozokwor and others, she can use her talent to develop the local film industry.
“We have great talent here and we can do it if we work together and are supported by government,” she said.