Malawi film revival on-going

The film industry has seen other countries in Africa and beyond boosting their nations’ economy.

Apart from leading the world in movie production, countries such as India through Bollywood, Nigeria and its Nollywood as well as the mother industry in the US, Hollywood, have raked billions of dollars through sales, thereby contributing to the countries’ gross domestic product (GDP).

Chavula-Mhango’s Lilongwe movie has been nominated for a continental award
Chavula-Mhango’s Lilongwe movie has been nominated for a continental award

The wind has also blown across Malawi and in the past year, a number of activities have taken place in the industry—from screening of local movies at international festivals to the hosting of two film festivals as well as the recent nomination in the continent’s leading awards.

The local film industry lacks the capacity to grow due to the absence of a platform to showcase ideas. The progress of the industry is hindered by a lack of funds, limited support from government and lack of facilities.

But B’ella, for example, a movie directed by Tawonga Nkhonjera, took part in a number of film festivals, including the 4th Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt.

His film production company, Dikamawoko Arts, hosted a documentary film-making workshop after which produced three films and graduated 10 students.

Other than that, the industry witnessed two international film festivals being hosted in Lilongwe. The festivals whetted Malawians’ appetite for filmmaking.

Presented by Lake of Stars (Los) and the Film Association of Malawi (Fama), Lilongwe Shots Film Festival was the first to be held in May this year.

It featured films from Malawian filmmakers alongside international film-makers. Over 100 submissions of all styles and backgrounds were screened from countries as diverse as Egypt, Norway, South Korea, France, DRC, Scotland, Burkina Faso and the USA.

The year also saw awards being given out categories that included Best Film, Best Malawian Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Documentary.

In October, another film festival aimed at disseminating African cinematic culture and promotion of cinema as part of the urban and popular culture was held.

About 50 films, both local and international were screened during the festival organised by Fama and Positivo.

During the two festivals, film-makers were invited to submit their work and take part in workshops and seminars that among others, taught them how to make the most of limited budgets and big ideas.

All the festivals are set to return in 2016, if the promise from the organisers is anything to go by. This is just one of many examples of how Cameroonians, passionate about film, are carving out a nook.

Apart from new movies like Unappreciated by Lilongwe based movie maker Pascal Bagaluzi, another major highlight of the year if the recent nomination of a Malawian film for the 2016 edition of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA).

Actress and movie director Joyce Chavula-Mhango earned Malawi’s first AMVCA nomination for Best Movie for Southern Africa.

Lilongwe, is luring for votes against Ayanda by South Africa’s Sara Blecher as well as Tell Me Sweet Something by Akin Omotoso from Nigeria to bag the award come March next year.

This is a breakthrough for fledgling Malawi industry and the hope is that more movie producers will be encouraged to make entry submissions in the future.

It appears 2015 was a year of revival for Malawian movie industry as filmmakers produced low budget films as funding continues to haunt the industry which were screened outside the country. Another point of concern is that piracy continued to pauperise filmmakers just like in other art forms like music.

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