By Ogova Ondego
Published May 29, 2015
That President Jakaya Kikwete was expected to preside over the gala ceremony of the inaugural Tanzania Film Awards in Dar es Salaam in itself spoke volumes about the under-currents running through the movie sector of this country with the fastest growing economy in East Africa. Of the 13 categories in which awards were presented, five could have been considered ‘political’ with the rest being ‘artistic’.
The speech of Simon Mwakifwamba, the President of the Tanzania Film Federation (TAFF), was addressed to the President who, it would later emerge as the awards ceremony concluded, had been bestowed with the Tribute Award ‘to a government leader or policymaker who has contributed, through personal efforts, to the development of the film industry in Tanzania’.
The entire Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, led by the Minister, Dr Fenella Mukangara, was present: Permanent Secretary Sihaba Nkinga, Executive Secretary of Tanzania Film Board Joyce Fissoo, Director of Culture Prof Hermas JM Mwansoko and several other senior officials of the various departments of the Culture ministry were present.
But President Kikwete, due to what was described as being busy with pressing state matters, failed to show up at the very last minute. But the show carried on.
In his address to President Kikwete, Mwakifwamba called for the support of the Government in creating a conducive environment for filmmaking through formulation of relevant laws and policies such as Film Policy, Creative Arts Policy and Copyright Policy.
Calling for the liberalisation of the film market to ensure creators and not just distributors benefit, Mwakifwamba further called upon government to consider offering film studies in the school curriculum from primary to secondary level besides creating a specialised film training institution.
The TAFF Chair called for the establishment of a film hub in the coastal town of Bagamoyo known as Swahili Film City-Bagamoyo and the setting up of institutions and infrastructure through which to champion filmmaking: cinemas, archives, and even factories to manufacture equipment and other items to enable filmmaking become an industry.
Dr Mukangara, who represented President Kikwete and even received his award on his behalf, pledged Government support to Tanzania Film Awards (TAFA). She said the awards would be ‘even bigger from next year and this hall will be full’, referring to the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre in which the TAFA ceremony took place on May 23, 2015.
The biggest winner of the night was director John Kallaghe who took home 38% (three awards)—Best Director, Best Feature Film and Best Actor in Lead Role—in the eight categories of awards determined by the Jury for his detective/thriller film, NETWORK.
As attention shifted from the eight-category awards to the next five—Tribute Awards presented by Tanzania Film Awards Trust who organise TAFA—a sombre mood descended on the audience; especially when the names of the nominees for the Tribute Award (Personality) were read out; all four—Adam Kuambiana, George Tyson, Steven Kanumba, Hammie Rajabu—are deceased. The winner was Steven Kanumba whose weeping mother had to be supported to the podium to receive the award in behalf of her late son by Ghanaian Sir Richard who managed the late actor, actor Hisani Muya and several other creative people.
It took a while for normalcy to return to the hall and for two other awards to be presented, one of which went to President Kikwete and the other to a European funding agency known as Best AC or Best Dialogue.
The winners were:
Best Screenplay: Irene Sanga
Best Actor in Supporting Role: Hisani Muya
Best Actress in Supporting Role: Grace Mapunda
Best Comedian: Amri Athumani (King Majuto)
Best Actress in Lead Role: Irene Paul
Best Actor in Lead Role: Brian Ibrick
Best Director: John Kallaghe
Best Feature Film: NETWORK by John Kallaghe
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Life Time Achievement Award: Bakari Mbelemba (Mzee Jangala)
Tribute Award (Media): Zamaradi Mketema (Take One)
Tribute Award (Personality): Steven Kanumba
Tribute Award (Presented to governmental/intergovernmental/nongovernmental organisation that supports film policy development in Tanzania): Best Dialogue (formerly BEST AC)
Tribute Award to Policymaker (Presented to a government leader or policymaker who has contributed, through personal efforts, to the development of the film industry in Tanzania): President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.