HomeStandard People‘Revive the film industry or it dies’

‘Revive the film industry or it dies’

The launch of Gringo the Troublemaker film at 7Arts Theatre in Avondale on Wednesday was enough evidence that the local film industry still has the capacity to go a step higher on the international arts ladder.

Activity on the local film scene has been on a downward spiral over the past few years. The zeal and excitement that used to characterise local film festivals has faded. Most film practitioners are either changing trades or going out of the country in search of greener pastures.

We have talented film practitioners that include Danai Gurira and Tongai Arnold Chirisa that have made it on the international scene. Some of these filmmakers have tried to contribute to the local film industry back home, but their efforts have not yielded the expected results.

Talented actors and actresses have gone to waste because the film industry has been on a low note for a long time.

Most filmmakers have blamed piracy for their misfortunes.

They argue that they will never get financial returns proportional to their efforts because their products get pirated as soon as they release them. Some of the practitioners have quit the industry citing piracy as their stumbling block.

It is true that piracy has syphoned returns from numerous artists, but to say that the film industry must die because of piracy is not justifiable.

Unlike music, sculpture, theatre, painting and other genres that can be run with limited resources, the film industry demands huge budgets because each production usually involves many people. For a film to be exciting, it has to include various locations and scenes have to be revised extensively until a perfect product comes out. Because of the resources involved in filmmaking, producers, actors and directors are slowly turning to theatre in search of better returns.

This trend has been costly to the local film industry. Our youngsters will hardly see the best of our film productions, if the current scenario recurs for the next few years.

They will not appreciate local productions like how their elders celebrated films like Yellow Card, Everyone’s Child, Neria and Tanyaradzwa, among other interesting yesteryear productions.

The long time that Enock Chihombori took to come up with Gringo the Troublemaker shows how endangered this art genre is.

Despite the fame and popularity associated with the Gringo productions and the main actor Lazarus Boora, Chihombori had to struggle to come up with the new production because appreciation for local films has drastically fallen among sponsors and promoters.

Chihombori came up with a good production after a serious individual battle. Indeed, he worked with many people on the production but he had a hard time completing the project.

Such is a sign of how the local film industry has suffered over the last few years. Despite efforts from some sections of the industry to come up with new productions, activity on the film sector remains lukewarm.

Producers of recent films that include The Gentleman, Playing Warriors, The Kiss and Sores of Emmanuel have concurred that the going has been tough in their field.

Maybe it also explains why prestigious arts fetes like the Harare International Festival of the Arts pays minimal attention to films.

We have the talent and passion but something remains terribly wrong. If local companies were to support films like Gringo the Troublemaker, the terrain would completely change.

There have been good films in the past and we can also have better films in the future. It is high time we shift the blame from piracy and start serious efforts towards revitilising the industry.

Chihombori’s latest production shows that we still have the talent and there is no excuse for losing our gifted film practitioners to film sectors in other countries because we have failed to sustain our own.

Piracy affects the arts industry at large but other genres still stand because of support offered to them. The film industry also needs support.

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