Flow of my thoughts on the looming death of traditional African Cinema continue. At this point, the stream of funding that African cinema has thrived on is no longer flowing. Filmmakers must get innovative if they have to remain afloat in this new reality. Having churned out a few titles, only screened at the Fespaco, Kenya International Film Festival, Durban Film Festival, or Ziff or Cannes, some of the ``big names`` finally bow out of the stage. A few resilient ones adapt to survive through the stretch. It's a new exciting dawn of African Cinema. We might want to call it neo/African cinema or another sexier name.
In Nigeria, a new crop of filmmaker stop lamenting government indifference to cinema, roll their cameras and what comes out makes irrelevant the rest of the traditional African cinema still gathering dust under the pillows. In Kenya, some serious businessmen identify a growth opportunity and wastes no time.
Unlike earlier Kenyan producers who relied on donor money, this generation of Riverwood filmmakers invests some little cash, must work hard to recoup their investment even if that means hawking the films, shouting about them on radio, TV even on Facebook.
A lot of what is churned is very poor quality but the fact that Kenyans have not had opportunity to watch much of their own, they are spending that shilling and loving most of the comedies.
The other group of producers, provoked by the Riverwood producers, bring down their budgets and on location they are. Films of all genres, all standards are coming through.
The scenario is similar in Uganda where Video halls are more than excited to screen Ugandan films; several video libraries are stocking them; distributors are lining up for the deal to control distribution.
The South Africans are on the go. Thanks to good regulatory framework, filming skills acquired hands-on and enviable infrastructure created by Hollywood producers and others who have been regularly shooting, brilliant movies that can compete anywhere are coming out. Because films are meant to be screened, there are some low end cinemas entering the market. Already there are films available on DVDs that are doing rounds.
West Africans have this attachment to artistic films. The reality says otherwise. That is artistic movies yes but who says Cine halls that are spread throughout the cities cannot screen these. There are indications that many West Africans love watching their movies. This offers another growth opportunity even after funding has dried. Isn't this exciting?
And not yet. African film distributors finally interlin all the Cine halls, others call them video halls, Kideos, Bibabdas- and an industry gradually begin to crystallize. But there is still a challenge. Branding the halls as safe places where film enthusiasts can walk in, enjoy and evening or an afternoon of African films and safely go home.
Mwenda wa Micheni - Kenya
Article paru dans le Bulletin AfricinĂ© nÂ°10 (Ouagadougou), du jeudi 05 mars 2009, durant le Fespaco 2009.
Bulletin publiĂ© par la FĂ©dĂ©ration Africaine de la Critique CinĂ©matographique (FACC, Dakar), avec le soutien du ministĂ¨re burkinabĂ¨ de la Culture, du Tourisme et de la Communication, du Fespaco, de l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF, Paris), du MinistĂ¨re franĂ§ais des Affaires EtrangĂ¨res, du Centro Orientamento Educativo (COE, Milan) et du Rurart (Poitou Charentes, France)