By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
Published June 22, 2014
Africa has so many stories which are yet to be told and filmmakers are called upon to step up their efforts in telling these stories.
A film production workshop that brought youth from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi under the regional East African Film Network (EAFN) noted that one of the main short-comings of African films is the story. Held in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, June 17-20, 2014, the workshop tackled areas such as directing, sound production, lighting and scripting.
“The importance of telling the African story through film has become indispensable. It is just unfortunate that most stories are still weak. African stories have to be told clearly, completely and in many volumes to move and overtake the mindset that the Western media have already put in people, especially those who have not been in Africa before,” said trainer Akpor Otebele at the beginning of the three-day workshop. Otebele, a Nigerian living in USA, is the director of the Arusha African Film Festival.
The workshop was part of the second gathering of the East African Film Network (June 18-20, 2014) held in the framework of the 6th annual Burundi International Film Festival, FESTICAB (June 13-20). The choice of Bujumbura as the venue of the workshop as well as the second EAFN was to draw people from the region into the country in order to market it as film destination as well as draw the interest of the government of Burundi about the potential that the country has in telling its stories through film.
Leontine Nzeyimana, the Burundian Minister in charge of East African Community Affairs who presided over the launch of EAFN on June 18, 2014, said the regional body that was created in Arusha in March 2014 was expected to foster socio-economic and political development and cultural growth within the EAC bloc.
“The East African Community Partner States are implementing the provisions of its Treaty to develop the region politically, economically, socially and culturally. With the implementation of the provisions under article 119 of the Treaty, many joint actions have been carried out in the sector of culture to fulfill one of the missions of East African Community which is to improve the living conditions of the citizens of the Community,” the Minister said. “East Africans will come together through this initiative and this will foster integration.”
Saying the motion pictures sector presented a great opportunity for creating jobs for the youth besides attracting tourists to the region, Minister Nzeyimana said EAC has “embarked on this wider spectrum of the Culture and the Creative Industries which are on the East African Community Development Agenda as stated in the 4th East African Community Development Strategy (2011-2016). Steps for the region to harness its abundance of creative talents and rich cultural assets to promote economic growth, job creation and social inclusion have been engaged.”
Sonia Uwimbabazi, a workshop participant from Rwanda, said that the workshop experience was indispensable in the life of a filmmaker. Working with people with various dispositions gives one the ability to tolerate the heat that comes with production.
“It was a nice experience, the exposure and meeting other East African film makers was very refreshing. This will no doubt hasten integration in the region,” she said.
Habiyakare Muniru, also from Rwanda said that the workshop was an eye-opener in his life.
“We had a good trainer who was very flexible and approachable. I was also exposed to other aspects of production and the importance of keeping time and team-work,” he said.
Some 17 youth took part in the workshop in Bujumbura. A similar number took part in a scripting workshop during the Zanzibar International Film Festival that ran concurrently with FESTICAB. Other film workshops shall be held in the framework of Uganda’s Nile’s Diasporas Film Festival and Kenya’s Lola Kenya Screen before the end of 2014. The training is supported by German Development Agency (GIZ) in collaboration with East African Community (EAC).