Piracy holds African film industry at ransom

Lee revealed that the DVD of the abovementioned film were already were leaked to the masses while the movie was going through editing. According to Lee, the premature release of the movie was traced back through investigations as an inside job. Since then, two people have been charged and arrested.

‘When investors hear of such incidents in studios in Africa, they get turned off easily. They will not work with these studios and eventually always cast American actors in African roles. We are currently battling this practice by showing them that Africa can do its own films, but piracy is choking these efforts,’ she lamented.

South Africa, more than any other country in the continent, enjoys such collaborations with international film studios. It is then not surprising that their locally-brewed films would suffer the same fate as other Hollywood movies being pirated and sold at every street corner in the region.

‘African states have to each come up with their own legislations that can bring such culprits to book,’ she said.

Lee observed that with the current state of African legislations film industries in the continent might suffer capital drain.

With the success of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series in the West, one would at least hope that after talks that Miramax Films will reteam with Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack’s Mirage Enterprises along with producer Amy J. Moore to adapt this project into a feature would similar interest for Botswana. Furthermore, actual sights could be seen in a Miramax studio product further marketing locations in the country and promoting tourism. Imagination entertains the character of Precious Ramotswe, the charming proprietors of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors in one of her investigations in the chosen location of the real dusty roads of Tlokweng village as they are instead of a designed set in a foreign location.

But since those reports a few years ago, any other word of the production has died down and such hopes, looking at the current situation, may as well be blighted.

Back to reality. Botswana’s film industry has not reached the crawling stage and it may be a long while before it grows out of its infancy stage. The visit by actors, Presley Chweneyagae and Terry Pheto has only made Botswana’s film industry more aware of the battles ahead.

‘The reality is that out-of-work actors will remain out of work, smaller studios may have to shut down and whatever films are made may never circulate,’ Pheto said.

But can the battle against piracy really be won?

In the city, most movie fans have not only seen Tsotsi but have also purchased the DVD.

‘Any movie one may desire these days can be found at most Asian stores,’ said Morebodi Basiame. He, himself, has bought a number of DVDs and identifies a store in G-west as one of his favourite outlets for this delight.

‘For as long as measures to regulate products that come into the country are not put in place, the war against piracy cannot be won,’ Basiame asserted. ‘ allfarica

June 2006
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