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A look back at an exhilirating year for film in Africa

Jan 08, 2016 In the last piece of our “Africa in retrospect” series, we take a glance at the African film industry.

From action movies to documentaries, the continent’s filmmakers were busy 365 days.

However, film-making anywhere in the world can be a tough business and that was the story of Wakaliwood, Uganda’s first action movie studio.

The studio was started by director and filmmaker, Isaac Nabwana, who explained how he circumnavigated his financial challenges.

“We have managed to make the huge budget small like we make our own jib, if we wanted one we just make it from the scraps. I remember when I was shooting ‘Who killed captain Alex’ I did not have a tripod stand, we welded a car jerk and made a very good tripod stand and it worked and no one could tell if we shot that movie with a tripod stand or not. So it is obvious that you cannot see it but it worked and saved us a lot of money,”

Still on the budget bottleneck, lack of funding almost prevented Ethiopian director, Yared Zeleke from making his award winning film ‘Lamb.’

After a successful run at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, ‘Lamb’ premiered at cinemas in Addis Ababa. The movie was also entered as Ethiopia’s official selection for the Oscars in 2016 in the Best Foreign Language Feature category.

Speaking on his challenges, Zeleke said:

“It was extremely difficult and honestly we couldn’t find finance, my producer and I, initially it was Ama Ampadu from Ghana, we couldn’t find finance until the script won a very prestigious award from France, from many many scripts, it won top place,” 

2015 was also the year of the documentary.

The creators of a documentary titled “Listen” used the medium to address the complex race issues in South Africa.

In the film, black students at Stellenbosch University claimed they face prejudice and accuse the institution of racism.

Released on online video platform “YouTube,” the documentary went viral, causing controversy not just in the picturesque town of Stellenbosch but across the country.

Commenting on the film, Mohammad Shabangu, spokesperson for the Open Stellenbosch Movement said:

“I think the end goal is the reformation of institutional culture but how we get there is in fact through changing the language policy so that no student is forced to learn in Afrikaans and that all classes must be available in English; that’s a very radical thing to propose for a space like this and yet it must be proposed and it must be done swiftly not on some vision 2050 kind of plan,”

Another documentary that caught the world’s attention in 2015 was the rags-to-riches story of NBA star Serge Ibaka in “Son of the Congo”.

Ibaka, who attended the film’s premiere in Austin, Texas said he wanted to inform and inspire people through the movie.

“I’m sure people know Serge Ibaka, see me playing, but didn’t really know what I did to be here, where I am now. So, one of the reasons was just to show the world everything is possible, you know, especially the young people,”

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