NKWETO MFULA, Chingola & SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone
THEATRE, even in little houses like Lusaka Playhouse, Chingola Arts Society and Kitwe Little Theatre may not be as vibrant as it used to be in the 70s, but a Parliamentary watchdog committee believes there is a still a way out for those involved in drama.
The Parliamentary Committee on Information and Broadcasting Services is encouraging theatre artistes to venture into film productions while at the same commercialising theatre houses to increase their revenue generation capacity.
Mwansabombwe member of Parliament Rogers Mwewa, who has deep roots in the arts, is part of the Parliamentary committee which was in the Southern and Copperbelt provinces where it toured various institutions including the Chingola Arts Society.
“Government is determined in the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage. That is the reason why artistes in the country should now focus on the film industry if they have to have a niche on the international market,” Mwewa said at Chingola Arts Society, where his team sampled a performance by Sotambe Cultural Ensemble.
“Nigerians came to learn from Zambians on how to act, they are now advanced in film industry.”
It is good that he mentioned Nigeria, where the stories told in movies whose industry has come to be known as Nollywood, have emerged as a cultural phenomenon across the continent.
Nigeria, the most populous nation on the continent, has overtaken the most industrialised country in Africa, South Africa, to become Africa’s largest economy. This is so not just because of its oil but also because of the rapid growth of the film industry.
The industry employs a million people in Nigeria, second only to farming, pumps US$600 million annually into the national economy, according to a 2014 report by the United States International Trade Commission, which was published by the New York Times last year. In 2002, it made 400 movies and US$45 million.
But filmmaker Musola Catherine Kaseketi, who has probably seen it all on the local film front, strongly believes that there is need for a film policy by government to help kick-start the industry and subsequently flourish.
Kaseketi, who runs Vilole Images Productions (VIP) and the Shungu Namutitima International Film Festival of Zambia, believes only with the film policy in place can Zambia probably start talking in the same sentence about its film industry and Nollywood.
“Most countries are doing fine because they have partnerships which help in film productions, film is very expensive… once the film policy recommendation goes through Parliament, then the entertainment industry will start contributing to wealth and employment creation,” she told the same Parliamentary committee, when it made a stop over in Livingstone.
Kaseketi, who wrote, directed and produced the movie “Suwi”, which was screened in several European countries as well as South Africa, says it is because of the lack of a film policy that the country has foreign filmmakers coming in the country to make movies without involving the locals.