Africa Film WebMeeting

Message from: (african-cinema-conference@XC.Org)
About: Proposed Namibian Film Commission Bill

Tue, 20 May 97 08:28:00 PDT

Originally from:
Originally dated: Tue, 20 May 97 08:28:00 PDT

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The Ministry of Information has circulated a draft Namibian Film Commission
Bill. The bill proposes that "No film producer or film production company
shall be allowed to produce any type of film in Namibia, without a valid
film production license". It also proposes that licenses should be issued
for "each individual film production". The only exemption from licensing are
certain television programme productions "as from time to time determined
by the commission". The penalty for not complying with the regulations
would be a fine of N$2000 (approx. US$456), and/or six months imprisonment.

MISA is fundamentally opposed to the licensing of any media practitioner or
production. The Namibian constitution guarantees to all persons the right
to freedom of speech and expression, including freedom of the press and
other media. The government therefore should not put itself or give powers
to another body to restrict these freedoms. Licensing is a restriction to
freedom of expression. Potential film makers need to satisfy immigration
requirements and uphold the law whilst working in this country. But for
any body to prescribe what productions can and cannot be made
is breaching the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the constitution.

The role of any film commission is to make recommendations on issues such
as waiving of visa requirements or the granting of tax rebates for
productions that it feels are of benefit to Namibia and its film industry.
It therefore should only have the power to issue licenses for approved
productions as evidence that they should receive benefits, not require
licensing as a prerequisite to production activities. This approach would
put Namibia on par with other film producing countries in the world.

A previous draft of the bill exempting Namibians and Namibian owned
companies, and allowing organizational rather than production by production
licensing, was circulated early last year. However, it was later withdrawn
after protests from the Namibian Independent Producers Association, who
wanted a law that would support the growth of the local industry. In
response to this demand the latest draft has included a provision for a
"Film and Video Development Fund", but there is no indication of how the
fund will obtain financing.

MISA does not oppose the establishment of a national film commission and/or
a film development fund. It urges the government to clarify work permit and
visa requirements for international productions. These requirements should
safeguard Namibians against the unnecessary use of overseas technical or
other personnel. Guidelines are also needed for co-productions. Namibia
should actively seek co-production treaties with other nations and work
within SADC to formulate regional policy in support to the film & video

MISA is association with the Namibian Independent Producers Association
currently in the process of gathering information on alternative ways in
which the Namibian industry can be supported, and promoted through an
enabling mechanism without the need for the licensing of productions.
MISA believes that any future legislation needs to focus primarily on
support to the industry and the attraction of foreign investment through
independent production funds, subsidies, quotas for local broadcasters etc.

MISA is also proposing that a national seminar be organized to discuss
future legislation and would cover areas such as; the role of television in
supporting local production and indigenous languages, including local
content quotas, objectives of a film commission and its role in policy
development, production support and film financing, possible future tax and
investment incentives, establishment of co-production treaties, immigration
requirements for film makers, education & training, the future role of the
Namibia Communications Commission and its future autonomy and how to fund
the work of a film commission.

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