Winning Films Lack Depth & Quality

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By Frederick Philander

WINDHOEK

The unanimous feeling of the four selected judges were that the overall quality of the eleven short film entries for the first Namibian Film Awards, held last week, were rather disappointing.

This could be attributed to the many weaknesses in the scripts and creative ideas which were far from original.

So said Simon Wilkie, veteran film-maker, during the announcement of the winning entries on behalf of the four adjudicators of the Namibian Film Awards, surrounded by quite some secrecy concerning the prize monies the winners eventually received on the night.

In retrospect, the prize monies were never announced at the event that was attended by a number of invited senior government officials.

The judges included film-maker, Paul van Schalkwyk; Emily Brown, a lecturer at the Polytechnic of Namibia; Anna Shivute, a senior civil servant in the Ministery of Tourism and Environment; and Wilkie, the owner of Mubasen Films.

“I would like to express our disappointment on the overall quality of the works submitted from a very lean yield of entries. I have seen better quality films produced in the country than the eleven that competed for honours in the Namibian Film Awards. However, those that did win stood out and deserved to have won,” said Wilkie, a former Scottish citizen.

The film awards were made financially possible by the Namibian Film Commission as a first-time contributor to the annual Windhoek International Film Festival.

“Namibia is known for its rich and vast sources of authentic stories, which was just not there in the films we had to judge. Truly, we did not see any of that probable mythical richness. Maybe in future local film-makers will come up with much better ideas. This was a good start for the industry and gives us hope for the future,” said Wilkie, who declared his initial reluctance to be part of the judging panel due to his origin as a foreigner to Namibia.

Asked this week about the format of the film awards presentation at Nice, a local popular restaurant, Wilkie telephonically called it, “too much of an elitist affair” imitating to a lesser extent existing film award ceremonies elsewhere.”

“The presentation laced the Namibian authenticity people expected of the awards. The up-market Nice-NTN sort of approach of events of this nature rather confuse many people, especially film-makers from rural areas and Katutura, who feel rather out of place in such ‘unnatural’ environments. We tend to organize events like this in posh places at our own peril, instead of where it should matter,” said Wilkie, speaking his mind.

He expressed appreciation for the efforts of the young film-makers, who basically financed their own productions, which they submitted as part of the awards.

“They, in my own opinion, are the true film-making artists who need to be celebrated for their craft because they are the ones who have suffered and sacrificed the most to produce their products. We salute those independent film-makers,” he said.

He concluded by saying that the Film Awards event has the inherent potential to eventually stimulate the growing local film industry.

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