by Teona Goderdzishvili
German and African documentary and fiction film world representatives were invited to discuss the current challenges the film industry faces. The session called “…and action! Film and Media Development” took a place in the framework of the DW Global Media Forum. Speakers introduced themselves and their organizations verbally and demonstrated short video cuts, summarizing their jobs and wrapping up the video footages they have produced so far.
The host of the session Edward Micah kickstarted the discussion with “how challenging can be filmmaking?” Responses, as expected, were diverse and based on their own and each of their perspective.
Tiny Mungwe, who is a producer at STEPS, Kenya, believes that the key point for success in the film industry is “an opportunity to fail. To try again and to fail.” Unfortunately, as she stated later on, African based filmmakers do not have this opportunity. By the end of her speech, Tiny noted that despite everything “having a space to be creative is urgent”.
Some may argue about the importance of African related movies to be made by Africans. Sarika Lakhani, a managing producer at One Day Films had an impressive response talking about her own roots. Sarika called herself “an international co-production”, since her father is Indian-Kenyan and mother – German and thus she can never separate her own identity from German or Kenyan or Indian.
“When it comes with countries and continents, It’s the same to ask me “are you German, Kenyan, Indian?” The thing is that first of all, we all are humans and we have something to say and the filmmaking is a way for it”, Lakhani said.
Waltraud Ehrhardt co-founded Good Karma Fiction and produces drama series developed in Kenya. Her perspective of the key challenges in the field is all about financial sources. Waltraud suggested that the lack of investment in TV films can be related to a “not proper profit out of it”.
The speakers remarked how much a power can be a key challenge or a threat at the same time. Tiny Mungwe had an interesting comment after the key challenges question. “Recognize the power of the image and recognize the danger,” she commented. “I don’t think film is not profitable, but I think it’s dangerous.” Waltraud Ehrhardt shared the idea by saying that “film is much more than just a business. It’s also dangerous, because we don’t know yet what we put in it.”
The host gave the floor to the audience a few minutes before the session ended. Irenne Najemba is originally from Uganda, pursuing her Master’s degree in international media at DW Akademie, shared her impressions: “The most interesting thing was to see the films showing African people that I can identify with, stories that I can identify with, to see the content that really reflects the reality.”