by Andy Kozlov
A couple hundred yards from the Golden Gates, a major landmark of the Ancient Kiev, perched between the Italian and Polish embassies is situated the architectural jewel of the Ukrainian capital’s city centre, Radisson Blu hotel. It is here that this year’s Kiev Media Week was held…
Here is a human face to the story.
We wrote earlier that, in partnership with a company from Zimbabwe, Afriwood, we planned to take part in the 2012 Kiev Media Week. We did participate. Well, since Afriwood’s founder Stephen Chigorimbo couldn’t make it, it was up to me, a self-confessed rookie, to look for buyers of the African feature films in our portfolio, partners from the CIS region to co-produce with and, in general terms, placing Zimbabwe and Sub-Saharan Africa on the mental map of Eastern European and Central Asian TV and film executives. Again, this is how I imagined my role in the absence of much tangible input from the interested parties. (See Inspired by stats from Basic Lead. But still wondering what the future holds for African films in Russian-language markets)
So I began my preparations for the major media industry event in the Commonwelath of Independent States about a week before the opening date when it was becoming clear that Mr Chigorimbo won’t be attending. My first step was trawling the list of participants, compiling my own lists. I was going through the participants’ websites and trying to find there a faintest link to the African continent and NGO-related/development communication initiatives (more on that below).
All this time, the thoughts of screwing it up by confusing the names of the TV channels during my sales pitch or sell-talking to those who are there to sell like yourself (NOT TO BUY), were amassing in my brain like those robot machines swarm around The Matrix Nebuchadnezzar ship. “I will probably be laughed at having no dead-tree catalog and staggering through the terms of the trade.”
Our rookie hero’s next step was to watch each single one of the video interviews made with the last year’s participants, to suck in the atmosphere of a media market.
At one stage down the screening, the historian in me was jabbed at by one of the interviewee’s remarks that the key to success for the media industry in Ukraine is answering the questions, “Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we headed?” “Hmm..,” I thought, “These are African questions as well!”
I gave more thought to those questions having spend a night in a friend’s library in Kyiv (where I was kindly accommodated for the two days of my participation in the KMW). There I fell into sleep surrounded by bookshelves with Soviet-era cinema history books, Ukrainian diaspora memoirs, an introduction to Sanskrit and Jimi Hendrix and early Bob Dylan vinyl records.
Major challenges facing the media industry in Ukraine, the international “communication hell” mentioned at this year’s Film Business conference are about nurturing a generation of local creatives capable to not only change discourses/narratives but constantly switch between these. Such creatives would also be comfortable with adapting to such global discourses as sustainability, international development and creative economy, and again–moving between them with ease, creating long-lasting international production partnerships in the meantime.