Delegates split over film co-production agreements
Delegates to the 1998 Southern African Film Festival were yesterday divided
on whether African film producers should pursue co-production projects with
their counterparts in developed countries.
While some delegates said co-producers were one way through which
cash-strapped African film-makers could source funds, others felt that
developed countries tended to infuence the outcome of the films since they
provided the bulk of the funds for the projects.
The debate was sparked by the acting head of creative arts in the Southern
African ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Lindi Ndebele,
when she revealed that her country had signed a co-production treaty with
The discussion degenerated into heated exchanges as opposing delegates
laboured to defend their stances.
"These agreements will help our film-makers to tap into the distribution and
exhibition channels of other countries," Ndebele said.
Zimbabwean film-makers Norbert Fero, agreed saying there was nothing wrong
for African countries to enter into co-production agreements with developed
"If at the end of the day we still have creative control, there is nothing
wrong for South Africa to sign a co-production treaty with another country,"
"In fact we should do the same," Fero added.
But prominent Ethiopian film producer Haile Gerima, argued that South Africa
was setting a bad precedent by entering into co-production agreements with
developed countries saying they disfigured and humiliated "our ancestors" in
their film images.
"I am worried about the direction South African is taking because we might
end up with the same problems that Zimbabwe experienced with the King
Solomon film," he said.
Gerima said once a film-maker entered into a co-production project, it woud
be difficult for them to retrain creative control, particularly if the other
party was providing a larger percentage of the funding.
"We have to control our messages.... We cannot be always side effects and
side kicks to whites," he said.
"Poor countries can get together and make movies if the vision is there.
Let us not have films in Hollywood terms only.
"South Africa is running into danger of becoming a launch pad of imperialism
because of its well-developed infrastructure," he said. - Ziana.
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