Sunday, October 27, 2013

Zimbabwe Information Minister Tells Filmmakers to Produce African Story

Prof Moyo urges film-makers to tell the African story

Sunday, 27 October 2013 00:55
Sunday Mail Reporter

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has implored local film-makers to uphold African values in their productions in order to articulate the true Zimbabwean story to the world.

Speaking at the inaugural Zimbabwe Film and Television School of Southern Africa (ZIFTESSA) graduation ceremony in Harare yesterday, Prof Moyo said the country required more institutions of higher learning to offer studies in the arts and audio visual productions to help spur development in the local film industry.

He said film producers should desist from borrowing values articulated in foreign film industries, but, instead, only adopt film-making techniques.

“One important issue for us in the ministry we would like to share with you and others in your sector is that we believe it is not possible to tell the Zimbabwean story in an audio visual format in a meaningful way unless you understand the ideological context of the story,” said Prof Moyo.

“For us, the important ideological context in telling the Zimbabwean story is the understanding that we are Africans and we tell an African story and we think like Africans.

“We don’t think like anybody else whether Asian, European, Latin American. We are part of humanity, but we have our own identity, grounded in our Africanness. And as Africans, we have been enslaved, we have been colonised, we have been victims of neo-colonialism and we have had to go through struggles to reclaim our identity as Africans.

“So, we are Pan-Africans. We don’t want to complicate things. We just want people to understand where we are coming from ideologically. We are coming from a Pan-African point of view.

“That’s the first context and the second context is that we are national. We are nationalists. We are Zimbabwean Africans. So, our Zimbabweanness means a lot to the telling of our story. It is not an accident; it is an existential fact bestowed on us by God and we are proud of that.

“We don’t think that to be a good film-maker you have to borrow values from Bollywood or Hollywood. The only thing you can borrow from there are movie-making techniques.”

The minister said Zimbabwe requires a dedicated school of film-making that will harness the vast potential the country has in the arts industry.

“We, as a country, have started a very important journey that Zimbabwe needs not only a film and television school issuing diplomas, but, maybe, it also needs a university,” he said.

“There is no example in the world of any country that has properly developed its film industry or sector without having proper institutions of higher learning in the field - there is not a single example.

“One reason why we now need to put our heads together - the various parties interested in this sector - to see what needs to be done to take this good work forward, this foundation that has been laid down to the next logical step, is because many people, especially those associated with the National Arts Council, have been using the phrase ‘Zollywood’, that there is ‘Zollywood’.

“They talk about and sometimes it is musicians in their videos talking about ‘Zollywood’. But there is an unnecessary confusion as to what ‘Zollywood’ is. Most of the people who have talked about this and, with all due respect to them, they don’t know what they are talking about.

“They have heard that there is Hollywood and Bollywood and Nollywood and they think they are clever by saying, ‘Now let’s have Zollywood’. Sounds like the same thing. Well, we have to admit that they have been clever by coming up with an interesting name.

“When I hear this phrase ‘Zollywood’, it does things to me. It’s a good thing. But how are we going to have ‘Zollywood’?

“There is only one way. In the same vein that Tsitsi (Dangarembwa) is the mother of film and it’s something we should celebrate.

“We don’t celebrate the contributions of our compatriots enough. So let’s say she is the mother of film. But we want the mother of ‘Zollywood’ now and I must tell you there can be no mother of ‘Zollywood’ other than ZIFTESSA. No school of film and television in Zimbabwe, no ‘Zollywood’.

“The only appropriate medium of communication that can genuinely kickstart ‘Zollywood’ is a school of film-making.

“Hollywood itself is a product of film schools. That’s the untold story about Hollywood, the same with Bollywood.

“I am unable to say what the situation is about Nollywood. But certainly about ‘Zollywood’ . . . we have to understand that to kickstart that industry in the appropriate professional and business way you need a school of film-making.”

ZIFTESSA was founded in 2008 with a vision to foster development in film-making and television productions.

Yesterday’s ceremony saw 48 students drawn from the three separate intakes between 2008 and 2010 being conferred with National Diplomas in Film-making and Television Production.

Part of their studies included courses in editing, production, directing, cinematography and sound.

The first graduation was due in 2011, but was delayed to allow ample time for the Diploma to be approved by the then Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.

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