Article by Ogova Ondego
Published November 10, 2008
Players in the audiovisual media sector in eastern Africa have formed a union that brings together filmmakers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
According to a Press Release from Sarah Kizza Nsigaye, the coordinator of the initiative, the union was formed in Nairobi on October 31, 2008 during a two-day East Africa Filmmakers Forum that discussed issues affecting the film sector.
“The forum also discussed joint regional productions and distribution among other things,” Nsigaye says, adding that details of the development will be communicated later.
“It is my humble appeal that all members of the East African Filmmakers Forum join and support the union for us to develop this budding industry.”
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The East Africa Filmmakers Forum was born in 2003 to provide a platform where filmmakers in the region would meet, network and consider how to develop the budding film sector. However due to the lack of funding, filmmakers were largely unable to implement the resolutions agreed upon during the forum which mainly meets at Festivals.
In 2007, during the 4th East African Film Congress at Amakula Kampala International Film Festival, Nsigaye says, “filmmakers frustrated with the failure to yield results from their discussions, set up a committee for purposes of pursuing the implementation of the resolutions agreed upon.”
“While the committee tries to set up the structures and work out mechanisms of developing the film industry in the region, the forum during the Kenya International Film Festival resolved to set up a union that would seek to address practical challenges affecting their work.”
The mandate of this union -the first one of its kind in the region-is ‘to represent market/economic, legal and regulatory interests which film producers in the region have in common.’
Nsigaye says such interests include: “Lobbying for common policies, government Support, public and private sector partnerships/funding, common markets, joint regional productions and networking, and copyright and piracy issues.”
With the lack of a film infrastructure, a film industry is non-existent in eastern Africa. This, Nsigaye says, a challenge that requires unified,
effort and vision as well as coordinated action between all stakeholders particularly the producers of content regardless of the country in which they are based.
Kenya’s Patrick Kihara was appointed to head the union. Other members of the union include Taghreed Elsharhor (Sudan), Manyazewal Endeshaw (Ethiopia), Sarah Nsigaye (Uganda), Kururu Simon (Burundi) and Laurian Kipeja (Tanzania).