Film festival promotes cultural exchange

PART of the crowd in attendance at the official opening of the Lusaka International Film Festival held at Alliance Francaise last Friday.

THE Lusaka International Film Festival last weekend opened to the public at Alliance Francaise with a screening of the film Wallay, about a young boy living in France who is sent back to his country of origin by his father to connect with his African roots.
The opening night of the festival drew various dignitaries such as the European Union Head of Delegation to Zambia, Alessandro Mariani, the Ambassador of France to Zambia, Sylvain Berger, the Ambassador of Italy to Zambia, Filipo Scammaca and the Ambassador of Angola to Zambia, Balbina Dias da Silva, among others.
The turnout by Zambians was however low.
Amabassador Berger said the film Wallay was chosen because of the belief that it would be interesting to a Zambian audience to see a story about discovering one’s heritage.
“I think this is interesting to have this fresh look on people born in Africa who live abroad and have a cross-cultural exchange. I liked the story and I did not see the film before so it was a risk but having seen the film I think it was a good choice,” he said.
In his view, Zambia has real potential to produce its own films for television and cinema which is good for its culture and economy.
Ambassador Da Silva described the film as a depiction of the African reality.
She said the festival was well organised and it was good to see films from different countries showing at the festival.
For National Arts Council (NAC) director, Adrian Chipindi, the opening night of the festival was impressive and the selected film had “the kind of content people want to see at a festival”.
He said organising a festival of such a nature was not easy and commended the festival’s planners for pulling it off for a seventh year.
“I think it’s a good time now to have these festivals because right now there is a requirement for broadcasters to have local content, so a festival becomes a platform where broadcasters can come and buy films,” he shared.
Mr Chipindi proposed a partnership with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
NAC is excited about the networking opportunity among film-makers through the festival and the capacity building that will result as well.
“It cannot be about the fancy films every time,” Mr Chipindi said. “You need some serious films once in a while that make you think and reflect.”
NAC, he said, is committed to the growth of the film industry in Zambia. Founder and director of the festival, Charity Maruta, said the festival’s purpose is to contribute to the development of local cinema and to bring the best of African cinema.
Ms Maruta said only 20 years ago there was not as much African cinema as there is today but film is an important tool to document people’s lives and save their heritage for the future.
“It’s important that we make these films and finance them so that we own them,” she said, and stressed the need for film-makers to engage the Government and other stakeholders to push the growth of the industry.
“We have a lot of great stories and the film industry can create employment. The industry can be so big that it can empower many Zambians,” she said.
Other highlights during the festival were a film forum discussing film policy and youth policy in Zambia as well as a masterclass for aspiring local film-makers.

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