Ethnic Undertones in Film Industry

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK ETHNIC undertones and blatant accusations of political incorrectness levelled at the country’s de facto film representative association, were the gist of a lively filmmakers’ meeting on Wednesday evening in the capital. Some fifty members of the Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN) and unaffiliated individuals from the film fraternity met at the American Cultural Centre on Wednesday evening under the chairmanship of filmmaker, Cecil Moller. “The FAN has miserably failed its members in negotiations with the Namibia Film Commission to develop the local industry. FAN ‘s politically incorrect and unable management structure should be blamed and be held responsible for this failure progress. FAN should be investigated,” suggested film director Dingaan Kapa in an obvious effort to make the film body suspect. The current FAN executive management structure, elected for three years, primarily consists of white and coloured members. “The film fraternity of the country is represented on the board of the Namibia Film Commission by FAN, that’s the bottom line. Whether its representatives are whatever colour they are, these people legitimately represent the country’s filmmakers on the government body,” said FAN-executive member, Guy Knockles, a man with wide experience in international filmmaking. The meeting’s chairperson, Cecil Moller and Glynis Beukes-Kapa (the wife of Dingaan Kapa) are currently serving as commissioners on the Namibia Film Commission. “We need to form a proper lobby group to confront the Namibia Film Commission for failing in its duties and functions to properly promote the film industry. My impression is that this body is subjected to the whims of politicians. The NFC board definitely does not serve the interest of the industry, but dances to the tune of politicians,” said an obviously frustrated Moller. Moller seriously warned against politicians dictating the type of films that should be made in the country, with reference to the making of the film, Where Others Wavered. To him, regulation of the film industry does not mean the control of what sort of films should be made. “This dangerous tendency has to be opposed at all costs if the industry is to remain professional in line with international expectations and standards of filmmaking. The Namibia Film Commission as the main government organ for the promotion of the industry has up to now not implemented any of the criteria for the funding of local productions,” he said. According to Moller, it is useless and serves no purpose to have a film commission without proper regulations. Wednesday’s meeting was the second effort to try and unite the country’s filmmakers and to establish a lobby group to try and push the interests of all filmmakers. “There are those who favour a union in place of FAN. This will not work in view of the fact that FAN is already recognized and acknowledged by the Namibian Government via the Namibia Film Commission. By taking out membership, FAN will be strengthened to operate more effectively,” film director, Abuis Akwaake, advised. A resolution was then taken that FAN should remain the main bargaining organ on behalf of the filmmakers and that those operating under the auspices of the so-called “community filmmaker’s concerned group” will unite. A third meeting to iron out differences between the two factions is scheduled for February 8. Pressing issues to be discussed at the next meeting include: minimum wage rates, the Namibian Labour Act, the effectiveness of the NFC, the FAN constitution and financing of local productions.

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