Government urged to establish film commission

By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka

Harare – The Zimbabwe Film Industry Development Platform (ZFIDP) has proposed measures aimed at reinvigorating the Zimbabwean film and media industry and is appealing to Government to establish a film commission to organise and facilitate growth for the industry.

Anthony Mutambira, the ZFIDP chairperson, said the film commission would deal with film-related issues, both locally and internationally, including funding and services to the film industry.

He said the film commission would among other issues, administer a film fund which would support all forms of media and film production, be it feature films, documentaries, TV productions, short films or animation; fund both commercial projects and artistic projects; promote the country as a shooting location to foreign filmmakers and media producers, since Zimbabwe has an abundance of natural beauty, wildlife, locations and talent to make it an attractive location to shoot. He said attracting foreign productions has a huge positive impact – they spend money inside the country, they employ local people, both in front and behind the camera, they use local service industries such as catering and transport. It would also show the country to the world and thus impact the tourism industry.

“The ripple effect is invaluable for the country in terms of economics, education and training of local filmmakers,” Mutambira said.

Other issues have to do with maintaining an archive of films produced in Zimbabwe.

“This repository of our national cultural heritage would serve as an educational tool for people to reference as well as an important historical record,” he said.

The commission would also assist foreign productions with infrastructure and advice so that local businesses can offer production services to foreign producers.

“For example, the film commission might provide an archive of potential shooting locations and help identify appropriate local crew.

“Assist foreign productions with legal issues, such as permits and import of equipment etc.

“Monitor and measure the size and impact of the industry to assist government in developing policy for the sector so that Zimbabwe can once again become a film-friendly nation,” Mutambira said.

Stakeholders in the film industry founded ZFIDP in July 2014 to engage the Government and other stakeholders within Zimbabwe, the Southern African region, the African continent and the world on all issues relating to the development and sustainability of the film industry in the country.

It also seeks to engage in specific actions that promote the development and sustainability of the film industry in Zimbabwe.

In line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vision, as outlined to Cabinet ministers early this month on “quick win projects” that can be implemented to benefit various sectors in the economy, the ZFIDP proposed a series of measures aimed at reinvigorating the Zimbabwean film and media industry.

According to Mutambira, a functioning film and media industry contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country.

“Worldwide this industry generated an estimated value of US$2 trillion in 2015. Regionally, the contribution of television (TV) and film to African economies has grown hugely in the last decade.

“For example, in 2012 South Africa’s film and TV industry contributed ZAR3,5 billion (US$282  million) to the GDP, Nigeria’s film industry generated 2.3 percent of its GDP in 2016, and forecasts sales of US$1 billion by 2020, and Kenya’s film industry is now earning Sh200 billion (US$1,94 billion) annually,” he said.

The industry, Mutambira said, would create jobs, boost tourism through showcasing local culture and educate people.

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