They came and they conquered, so reads the story of African Film Academy (AFA) in all the countries that they have visited.
For the first time AFA came to Malawi and the country hosted the first African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), with the awards came training for young film enthusiasts. So far, since March this year, AFA boasts to have trained 400 youths in filmmaking in their programme called Film in a Box.
But is this the answer to growing Malawi’s film industry?
Award-winning filmmaker Shemu Joyah believes the training could be the antidote that Malawi needs to help grow its film industry to levels where it could become one of the country’s foreign exchange earners.
“Yes, I believe that the training will help the industry grow. Filmmaking is a highly sophisticated profession that combines the use of the latest scientific gadgets with some very artistically creative minds. Therefore, we will be cheating ourselves if we think that we don’t need training,” says Joyah.
He believes that for Malawi’s film industry to grow, there will be a need for investment in training and equipment among others.
With the granting of new television licences, there will be a need for more local programming which will also call for filmmakers to be more creative.
“We are ready to point a camera at people shouting to each other and call it film or soap; we are ready to shoot people marrying each other or a line of musicians dancing at a roundabout, but to make the quality of soaps like the South African Generations, I am sorry to say that we still have a long way to go. This is where the training I was talking about comes in,” says Joyah.
He explained that with the amount of money that is spent on making films, the television stations must be willing to pay for the services.
“I spent more than K10 million to make Seasons of a Life and K16 million to make The Last Fishing Boat,” he says of the expenses in filmmaking.
With the numbers of the youth that attend the Film in a Box training growing, AFA officials believe Malawi has potential in the field.
“The huge numbers show the commitment that AFA has in building and improving the African movie industry. It also shows the confidence and zeal the youth have in Malawi’s budding film industry,” says AFA official responsible for press Wezi Mzumara.
She added: “The interest is amazing for a country that is yet to be known on the continent. And the ability of the participants to work as a team is an example to take home. Even the films that they made at the end of the training were amazing; their sense of story-telling, the ability to express themselves visually.”
The trainees will next week hold a film festival which will showcase the talent that they have amassed in the short training they have attended. This is in the run-up to a show by Nigerian artist 2Face Idibia to be held at BAT Ground in Blantyre.
It is from there that the country will be able to determine if Film in a Box will unearth Malawi’s potential in the film industry.
In her remarks, Peace Anyiam-Osignwe said AFA is determined to propel Malawi into the 21st century African movie industry.
“We are moving forward, assisting Malawi to consolidate the process of creating a strong filmmaking culture in the country. Our mission is to contribute to youth development and national growth,” she said.