CAPE TOWN, October 11 – The European Film Market’s Jana Wolff says negative perceptions of Africa have changed as the continent’s film industry continues to make inroads into the international market.
Speaking at the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival, Wolff said African filmmakers “want to shed a different light” and the stories being told are “far away from famine stories which was the primary connotation ten years ago”.
The European Film Market created the Africa Hub at the Berlinale (an annual international film festival held in Berlin) to provide a platform for African filmmakers to showcase their work and network with people from around the world.
Wolff said the Africa Hub will be in its third year when the Berlinale happens again in February 2019 and has been a success since its inception: “Content has become accessible, making films has become a different cup of tea”.
She said people from Africa have a “different and more direct approach” with interesting and innovative companies mushrooming across the continent.
“We want to see the continent as a partner, and learn from each other. There are a lot of things we can learn from Africa”, she told African News Agency.
The Africa Hub is a way for the African film industry to connect with the international market and is a place which Wolff says “offers a home where you can exchange ideas”.
She said South Africa was in a “special position” with more infrastructure when compared to Rwanda or Malawi, but the goal was to make the Africa Hub a pan African initiative “in order to involve everybody”.
One of the central issues affecting the film industry is online distribution. Wolff says the culture of people watching films in cinemas in Europe is changing, with the younger generation watching content online instead.
She said this has brought with it innovation like web series distributed on Facebook, but also challenges.
For someone like Brian Afunde these challenges are all too familiar. Afunde, a Kenyan national, has a company called BlackRhino VR, a startup in the rapidly evolving virtual reality industry.
He too is attending the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival where African films are being showcased.
“Connectivity is one of the biggest issues we have with VR. We have a huge problem with distribution. And when you’re talking about distribution you are talking about connectivity and data. This is one of the biggest impediments of VR right now”.
In many African countries, the wide majority of people don’t have access to the internet, or data costs are too high.
Afunde said VR technology still needed to be “demystified” and that there is a long way to go. He said he started his company to change perceptions and behaviours and said VR is both creative and experimental.
He said the industry was in its infancy, but had grown in leaps and bounds. Four years ago, there were no schools teaching students about virtual reality, and Afunde and others were forced to learn off different platforms like You Tube, but that has changed.
“It is growing and the future is bright”. (ANA)