Film Industry At a Crucial Stage

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By Frederick Philander

WINDHOEK

Instead of fulfilling its legal mandate, legal commitment and mission to promote the local film industry, the Namibian Film Commission has for the last few months more of a production house.

This accusation was last Saturday echoed by the outgoing chairman of the Namibia Film Commission (NFC), Cecil Moller. He was reporting to the Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN) during its annual general meeting at which a new board was elected for a three-year term.

“Due to the multiple activities of the film, Where Others Wavered, and an acute shortage of staff at the NFC, most activities were primarily centred around it. Thus, there was no time for other film issues, but I am confident that things will change for the better now that the film is basically finished,” said Moller in his report-back to FAN, the recognized body for the local industry.

Filmmaker, Abius Akwaake, was on Saturday elected the new chairperson of FAN.

“The Nuyoma film’s outcome will not in any way further influence the development of the local industry, of that I want to assure the film fraternity.

A consulting firm has also been appointed to look at the whole structure of the NFC with its present contingent of only 4 staff members. As far as I know, the institution needs at least 12 staff members if it is to operate effectively,” Moller said.

According to Moller, newspaper reports on the recent debacle on the international production, Generation Kill, caused a lot of damage to the Namibian film industry.

“In my view it is not good that we wash our dirty laundry in public the way the press has reported on the matter because of a lack of knowledge in the some parts of the press regarding the local film industry. Furthermore, the relationship between the NFC and the government is very questionable. The board of the NFC normally makes very good and worthwhile proposals on behalf of the film industry, only to be neutralized by the government, a very frustrating situation,” complained Moller who is leaving shortly for further studies in the United States.

He suggested to the FAN membership to lobby for the NFC to become an autonomous body.

“The industry is also facing many other problems and drawbacks due to the fact that the Namibian business sector is still not yet tangibly involved in the film industry. Businesses do not look at the industry as a business – a real pity, because it offers them so many opportunities to get involved. Namibia is undoubtedly an absolute film destination for international films. Everyone should make maximum use of this,” he said.

FAN will now be compelled by law to nominate two representatives to serve the filmmakers’ interests on the NFC board after the second representative, Glynis Beukes-Kapa, also resigned from the FAN board on Saturday.

“The FNC video fund has also not been activated or become operative to assist the local filmmakers due to a lack of funding. However, I am confident that it will in future become active to support what it is legally supposed to do – the local industry,” he asserted.

The outgoing chairman of FAN, Simon Wilkie, intimated that FAN needs stronger leadership to push the local industry in a positive manner and way.

“The local film industry is at a crucial crossroads of development, and I humbly apologize for my own weaknesses in being unable to provide the decisive leadership FAN needed during my tenure as chairman. However, there is a need for FAN to create strategic partnerships with institutions such as the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) if the local industry is to make progress,” said Wilkie, who is of the opinion that there is still hope for the industry.

The new chairman, Abius Akwaake, assured FAN members that he will do his utmost to lead the organization to greater heights into the 21st century as a credible organization.

Akwaake announced that a sub-committee consisting of filmmakers will be established to work closely with the NBC and other broadcasters in the country.

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