Karien Cherry (Four Corners, Production Team) | Russell Grant (Bioscope, Founder) | Ludi Krauss (The Labia, Owner) | Emma Kaye (Bozza Mobi, Founder) | Mawande Manez Sobethwa (World Film Collective, Producer) | Yazeed Kamaldien (Filmmaker)
In our interviews with filmmakers, producers and cinema owners, the conversation often veered towards the proliferation of digital filmmaking and how in focusing on the relationship between building audiences and tackling distribution of African cinema, we would have a better chance at developing more sustainable film industries across Africa.
Our research was interested in the growing popularity of digital filmmaking in Africa and how that movement could be integral in producing increasingly more authentic African stories on film. A From an interview with Cameroonian filmmaker, Jean Marie Teno, in 2011, the following quote from this director often came to mind during our research in South Africa: “If we can develop and embrace an alternative definition of cinema now, we will certainly soon thereafter see a dramatic increase in the number of films produced, and a diversification of subjects, styles, and voices. As filmmaking becomes accessible to more Africans, the resulting diversification of outlooks…will serve to invigorate our moribund audiovisual industries, creating more opportunities for both video and film.” Jean-Marie Teno (“Imagining Alternatives: African Cinema in the New Century”, California Newsreel online blog, 2011)
Through interviews and workshops, we discussed filmmaking in the context of international features and social documentaries, to short films made abundantly on mobile phones and exhibited instantly online. We also spoke to two of the leading independent cinemas, The Bioscope in Johannesburg, and The Labia in Cape Town, to hear from their perspective why African films were not more widely distributed locally, and what their triumphs and challenges are as programmers.