Film industry demands inclusion

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN) demands inclusion in bilateral cultural negotiations between the Namibian and foreign governments, something from which most art and cultural sectors have hitherto been excluded from. Namibia has bilateral agreements with many foreign governments, which cater for arts and culture exchange programmes seldom or never tangibly and consistently pursued by the Art Programme in the ministry of Culture. “The Namibian film industry has learnt with great enthusiasm about the Namibian Government’s negotiations through the National Planning Commission (NPC) with inter alia, the German Government for a five-year bilateral agreement,” states a press release from the Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN). According to the statement the film industry is aware of the negotiations underway with the European Union for its five-year Indicative Programme, currently at an advance stage. “We are indeed delighted with reference to strides made by the Namibian Government in using development cooperation and aid to foster economic development, harmony and nationhood. The Namibian film fraternity believes that these negotiations present exciting opportunities for an all-inclusive strategy and planning to develop the cultural sector and international relations with Germany, and indeed the entire EU. We therefore believe that there is ample scope for the Namibian cultural sector – and the film industry in particular – to be included in these negotiations for the industry to take its rightful place among the world’s cultures,” Abius Akwaake of FAN stated. The film organization further charged that Namibian cultural industries are at present for instance not benefiting from the EU’s African and Caribbean Programme, an ongoing programme that funds the development and production of various African films funding cycles and other art forms. “This is primarily due to the fact that the Namibian Government did not consider development in Namibian cultural industries a priority, which presupposes the absence of a necessary policy instrument. Articles 145 to 149 of the LomÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© Convention specify the principal areas in EU-ACP that can bring about cultural cooperation,” Akwaake said on behalf of FAN. FAN is of the belief that the said negotiations could offset development in the local cultural industry, especially the film industry, and open a window of Namibian culture to the rest of the world. “We understand that the German/Namibian negotiations will take place on May 17 – 18, 2006 in Windhoek. We consider the German Government’s willingness to consider for inclusion other sectors, earmarked as priority by the Namibian Government during these negotiations as particularly positive. We would thus like to urge the Ministries of Education, Culture and of Information and Broadcasting to include the culture industries on the agenda. It is through such relationship that the Namibia Film Commission for example, can establish negotiations for co-production treaties with Germany which will further see the vibrant development of the local film industry. Such inclusion could result in vibrant development in the industry, and ultimately in the national economy,” the filmmakers’ association said. In FAN’s view, at UNESCO level the Namibian Government is struggling to declare a single site as a world heritage site although Namibia hosts the world’s oldest desert. “It is through the medium of film we believe that the sites and sounds of Namibia, together with its diverse cultures and traditions, can be presented, come to be recognised and appreciated. The film community therefore calls on the Minister of Information and Broadcasting to investigate, establish the progress of the negotiations and include culture and in particular film on the agenda for these and other favourite nations’ negotiations. Through the understanding and appreciation of cultures, especially Namibian culture, we believe our people can contribute to a world heritage that goes beyond the physical to the spiritual approbation,” Akwaake asserted.