Filmmakers Feel Let Down by NBC

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Lack of funding is the reason for the delay in the NBC’s second round of commissioning of local television productions. What the NBC describes as its “commissioning system” for locally produced programmes, first started two years ago in 2004, was then introduced with great fanfare and expectations among Namibian filmmakers. Two local filmmakers described the present situation as a total national disaster for the industry. “The NBC television section has done the briefings … for the second round of commissioning with a budget estimation of N$6 million. We are ready to continue this worthwhile project, but are prevented from doing so due to a dire lack of and need for money,” the Head of Television Programmes, Claudia Ikela, told New Era on Monday. The only three local filmmakers that have gained through this commissioning programme were filmmakers Vickson Hangula, Sheldon Kotze and Tim Hubschle and his partner Horst Zaire. “All Namibian filmmakers have pinned their hopes, dreams and aspirations on the NBC’s commissioning system, seemingly all in vain. The system appeared as a beacon of hope because we knew that no support would be forthcoming from the Namibia Film Commission,” said a disappointed filmmaker Vickson Hangula when approached for comment. “Our experience of the commissioning system very much emphasized the need for locally produced television productions and it worked well the first time around. The NBC the last time spent N$1,9 million on three series by local filmmakers. These productions were quite well received by our viewers,” said Ikela. Filmmaker Abius Akwaake described the freezing of the commissioning system as “pathetic” bad planning on the side of the NBC. Asked whether the NBC had tried alternative ways of securing funding for this important film commissioning system, Ikela indicated that they might consider it. “But for the time being the whole commissioning pro-gramme is on hold and will remain so until the necessary funding can be secured. I am sorry about that but there is nothing that we can do about it right now. Only time will tell,” the Head of Television Programmes said. “Though very low rated support (the N$1,9 million) for local productions was made by the NBC through its commissioning system, it was a carrot dangled in front of filmmakers that has now disappeared into thin air. The system offered the national broadcaster a golden opportunity to come up with good programmes produced by independent filmmakers. That unique chance is now gone. NBC needs to get its act together if it is to survive in the industry,” said Abius Akwaake. The local film fraternity was in ecstasy about the prospects the commissioning system had opened up and offered in 2004. On a more positive side a new NBC programme on theatre play productions is in the process of being devised for screening on the national broadcaster in the near future. “My NBC producer colleague, Bollie Mootseng, and I are working hard on the idea of a theatre programme whereby we record local play productions. In fact at the moment we are scouting around for worthy plays to be recorded live on stage for broadcasting at a later stage,” said Moses Ndjoze, an NBC producer on Monday. Such a programme will be widely welcomed by most progressive playwrights who have had a raw television deal for many years. “Let’s hope these two gentlemen are serious with their plans. NBC and the country need this sort of entertainment. I hope it’s the forerunner for the establishment of a proper drama department in which Namibian playwrights can fully participate,” said Katutura-based playwright, David Ndjavera, optimistically.