By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK THE Mayor of Windhoek Mathew Shikongo said the annual Wild Cinema Festival is important for economic growth. He said the festival is a springboard to help develop the fledgling and struggling Namibian film industry. Shikongo, the patron of the festival, officially opened the 10-day festival in which a number of local and international films and documentaries will be showcased until May 22. Some 400 people on Friday attended the official opening that was held in Zoo Park. “So many stories of our city, our culture, our country and indeed our communities across the continent remain untold and undocumented. Yet, if the film industry leaves any legacy it should be the ability of even more of our people to tell their own stories,” Shikongo said on behalf of the residents of Windhoek. According to Shikongo, the film festival, which is being presented for the fifth time, is the most sought-after cultural event in the country. “This is a sign of the growing importance which the city places on the film industry and its current and potential contribution to the development of Namibia, something I am proud of as the patron. The festival has grown from strength to strength and so makes its cultural and economic contribution to Namibia in general and to the City of Windhoek in particular. It is also a growing sign of the film industry in the country,” the mayor asserted. He also alluded to the fact that Namibia is a well sought-after filmmaking location for the making of international films. “This is very pleasing to know, especially the international and regional film shooting interest in our country. This interest can be ascribed to the fact that we have locations of immense possibilities and that we can provide and offer creative and technical skills. Also, the hospitality of our people and its establishments count in our favour as a preferred filming location,” Shikongo proudly said. He further applauded the many opportunities opening up in the local film industry for filmmakers, actors, producers and camera operators. “However, the country faces many major challenges, many of which can only be addressed through continued economic growth, employment creation and poverty reduction. Indeed, the film industry’s contribution to our economy helps both directly and indirectly to lift our people out of the misery of poverty. Through the film festival there is also an evident amount of skills transfer to local filmmakers,” Mayor Shikongo, who pledged the city’s ongoing support for the festival in making Namibia a film capital of note in Africa, said. It is understood that the City of Windhoek has for the first time contributed financially towards the staging of the popular festival. A fantastic drumming troupe, Ongoma, entertained the audience before the showing of the first movie, Turtles can Fly, on Friday evening.
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