Tag Archives: Indigenous people

Africa’s film markets and video content distribution trends (1/2)

by Andy Kozlov (@KozlovAndy)

It’s not a film unless it has a distribution plan.

How about a multi-decade distribution deal?

Distributors are in the game to profit from films that are easy to sell, not to nurture filmmakers. By this logic apparently, an independent film will languish on the shelf indefinitely if it is not marketable.

The same will be true for most of you aspiring TV producers.

Get into the habit of attending African content markets

So where do you look to make yourself marketable? Experience shows, attending content markets is a must. And every month you can be part of one or even a bunch of them, depending on the season.

As you do that, make sure you get to know your buyers’, co-producers’ needs, address their concerns in the bud. In a nutshell — be love-able.

Get both global and local in your narrative. Avoid contrived situations — they suck

Some TV format ideas can make you super famous  more than others. But the general trend is for your narrative to be both global and local at the same time. As Wangeci Murage, managing partner at Nairobi, Kenya-based Media Pros Africa, explains commenting on Russell Southwood’s Netflix in Africa – Three reasons why it will not conquer everything any time soon:

Netflix do acquire content but their main aim is to build their inventory through original productions. Their [January 2016] entry into the “world” market signals an upsurge in local content production, to which they will own full rights.

Content developers have also started shifting their mindset and have began producing content with global appeal and local relevance. This is true of the four African countries [mentioned by Mr Southwood in descending order they are Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya;] so they will find a market.

Russell Southwood is the CEO of Balancing Act, a consultancy and research company focused on telecoms, internet and broadcast in Africa. He is one of those people you can often run into at media markets across Africa.

Speaking of South African film industry, veteran producer Jeremy Nathan estimated in May 2012: we are making 25 to 30 films a year now which is really very impressive. Ten years ago we were only making five or six films a year.

And as Balancing Act points out:

There are currently some 136 VoD platforms in Africa, both local, regional and international.

Outside Africa, Thema TV was the first provider of ethnic TV channels in Europe, particularly in France, with the successful launch of “The African Bouquet“, “The German Bouquet” and the “Indian Ocean Bouquet”.

In Africa, take M-Net, the Naspers-owned terrestrial pay TV channel. In 2008, M-Net’s AfricaMagic, one of the leading channels on the DStv bouquet,  launched Africa Magic Plus the growth of which further prompted a flowering of additional channels that catered for culture and language-specific African communities, inclusive of Yoruba, Hausa and Swahili speaking groups.

In 2013, in Africa there were some 535 local TV channels, each responsible for the transmission of up to 1,000 hours of fresh programs annually.

So on the one hand, the distribution channels are expanding. But so does competition from other African content producers. Mind you, even Ukraine in Eastern Europe now shoots Nollywood films. However that also means that Zimbabwean film distributors get to network with their Slav peers at the likes of Kiev Media Week.

As of 2013, African content production ranged from 3-4,000 hours per year. During the 1990s, this figure was lower than 100.

For African content producers concerned about growing competition, Media Pros Africa’s Wangeci Murage paints a picture as bright as it can probably get in the world of unkown unkowns:

This is an age-old phenomenon that is much welcome in our industry. The likes of DSTV’s Showmax and Buni TV would not be in existence if it wasn’t for forward thinkers such as IROKO TV. They saw a gap and went out to fill it. There may be a few holes in the service delivery but nonetheless, they serve a majority of African and International markets in search of Nollywood content.

€3,000 to 30,000 checks handed directly to directors and producers at the Marché International du Cinéma Africain in Ouagadougou undoubtedly makes a good news story.

But this is where those of you who prefer to think long-term should ask themselves:

Is it worth giving away the exclusivity rights on any broadcast on the African continent for a quarter of a century ?

Whatever your decision is, you also want to avoid becoming totally dependent on the international festival circuit for the distribution of your content.

In Tanzania they say 70% of the population do not have access to TV.  If you feel passionate about reaching out to the rural folks who are underserved by cinemas, have limited mobile internet access (2G?); if you feel like you are called to bridge the gap between indigenous people, rural and urban Africans, consider going it alone. Well..not totally alone:

The global list of your outdoor movie partners is growing like never before

FilmAid International  is committed to a participatory approach, teaching skills and involving local communities with the media making process.

Open Air Cinema with its world’s premiere outdoor cinema systems and inflatable movie screens

Short & Sweet with its largest inflatable screen in South Africa

Sunshine Cinema is a mobile cinema that converts solar power to social impact. Through various short films, facilitated workshops and “how to” videos they address social and environmental challenges through community facilitated engagement.

Cine Vagabundo (The Wandering Cinema), a Colombian non-profit that has recognized the fact that with only 5% of cities and townships that have cinemas, the Latin American nation is not an exception, that something needs to be done to link content producers with their digitally divided audiences on a global scale. And locally — glocally.

The author can be reached on andreakozlov@gmail.com


On History of Cycling in Zimbabwe

Last updated on August 8, 2015

History of Biking in Zimbabwe: Charles Duly's trip from Johannesburg to Bulawayo by bike in 10 days
History of Biking in Zimbabwe: Charles Duly’s trip from Johannesburg to Bulawayo by bike in 10 days

From the 1961 brochure commemorating the 50th anniversary of association between Duly & Co. Ltd. (Twitter) and the Ford Motor Company

“The first motor car to arrive in Rhodesia — a 6.5 h.p. French Gladiator. At the wheel is Charles Duly and beside him Mrs. Edith duly — the original Rhodesian [Zimbabwean] motorists.” Photo and caption from the 1961 brochure.
Modern bike enthusiasts might find it weird but it was the man who brought the first car into Zimbabwe, to promote the cycling culture perhaps more than anyone else in the Southern African nation. And he pioneered it in an a way that would be tough to repeat.

A Charles Duly Motor and Cycle Depot ad in 1908
A Charles Duly Motor and Cycle Depot ad in 1908

In 1894, accompanied by a Scottish carpenter (name unknown), Charles Duly, 24,  rode out of Johannesburg on a bicycle, travelled to Pretoria, then on to Polokwane, over the Limpopo river, through Tuli — Tuli being the first location north of the Limpopo/Shashe rivers where a ‘European’ style building, a police station, was erected — and Masvingo and then by the mail coach route to Bulawayo. Here is how the 1961 booklet explains the audacity of the act:

It was a country over which wild animals still swarmed, including lions. It was fever-ridden in a day when effective malarial preventatives were unknown.

The trip took Duly 10 days to complete. Over the same route an ox-wagon would have taken anything from 13 to 20 weeks. To beat Charles Duly and his companion today while cycling the distance on a tarred road would require you to average over 50 miles a day, in sweltering heat and with at least one mountain range to cross.

A 1905 Charles Duly ad of the 7th Avenue, Bulawayo Motor and Cycle Depot
A 1905 Charles Duly ad of the 7th Avenue, Bulawayo Motor and Cycle Depot

The year Charles Duly arrived in Bulawayo, the Bulawayo Chronicle was launched in what is now Zimbabwe’s second most populated city. Six hotels were operational:

  • the Charter,
  • the Queen’s,
  • the Caledonian,
  • the Masonic,
  • the Central and
  • the Maxim.

Board and lodging averaged some 10 pounds a month upwards. The city boasted a two-mile race-course, an athletic club, cricket pitch, tennis courts. It took passengers willing to travel to Harare four days by a mail coach (12 pounds single).

  • Pretoria (six days)
  • Cape Town (nine and a half days)
  • Beira in Mozambique (10 and a half days)

With the agency for the Raleigh bicycle brand, one of the leaders in its field in Britain, Charles Duly opened a cycle shop in what is now Jason Moyo Street (where Edgars is now).

This poster is of a 60's version of Raleigh's longest running campaign in Africa - which started just after the Second World War. The series of posters chart developing prosperity in Africa as original posters showed the rider in just shorts, but over the years he gained long trousers, a smart long sleeved shirt and finally a gold wrist watch
This poster is of a 1960’s version of Raleigh’s longest running campaign in Africa – which started just after the Second World War. The series of posters chart developing prosperity in Africa as original posters showed the rider in just shorts, but over the years he gained long trousers, a smart long sleeved shirt and finally a gold wrist watch.

One day, a khaki-uniformed man walked into Duly’s shop with a usual request of the day. After the Second Matabele War (1896-97), soldiers of the Relief Force were anxious to hire a bike to return to their base in Mafeking, or to go even further south to the Cape of Good Hope.

“Bulawayo, as it was shortly after Charles Duly’s arrival in 1894. The two horse-drawn carts are outside his first cycle shop in Abercorn Street [Jason Moyo Street, where Edgars is now]” Photo and caption from the 1961 brochure.
Around this time, in 1897 the first railway trains reached Bulawayo. Oh and guess what! — Bulawayo had electricity before London. One of those early trains brought Rudyard Kipling to Bulawayo. Two bicycles accompanied the popular writer on the journey to Africa. The epic railway journey was organised by Rhodes: “Cape Town – Kimberley – Bulawayo – Kimberley again – Johannesburg – and so back to the Cape. It was also on invitation by Rhodes that Rudyard Kipling came to Cape Town in 1898. He explored Bulawayo on bicycle, and visited the Matopos.

From the Christmas, 1902, issue of the Bulawayo Chronicle
From the Christmas, 1902, issue of the Bulawayo Chronicle

While in Bulawayo, he occupied a classic 100-year-old Edwardian building called Douslin House which now houses the National Art Gallery. Because the number of requests was huge, bicycle-pioneer-turned-entrepreneur Charles Duly made a policy of outright sale only. Even the stubborn request to hire from Rudyard Kipling did not change Duly’s sales decision. Kipling agreed to find a guarantor. “A good one,” insisted Duly. To which Kipling retorted he would bring two. One of the two was Sir Charles Metcalfe, Cecil Rhodes’s principal adviser on railway construction.

Hovering in the doorway enjoying the fun was Cecil Rhodes.

Rudyard Kipling hired Charles Duly’s bicycle for 7s. 6d. a day, including Sundays, an arrangement that lasted three months. He ended up paying far more than if he had purchased the bike. Seven shillings and six pence refers to the UK coinage before the introduction of decimal currency in the early 1970s.

A photo reproduction of a historic newspaper story -- the arrival in Bulawayo of the first motor car
A photo reproduction of a historic newspaper story — the arrival in Bulawayo of the first motor car

Although nearly half a century earlier he had not heard of Rudyard Kipling when he came to the Cycle Shop, later on Charles Duly became an ardent reader of this writer. And despite the growth of the automobile sales, the cycle track still called him. He donated a track to the City of Bulawayo.

It was an ironic fate that when Charles Duly was officiating at a race meeting, at age 79, he walked unsuspectingly into collision with a cyclist, and the old bike enthusiast was injured. That accident, unavoidable and comparatively minor, was quite likely to trigger the end of Duly’s life about a year later, on November 21, 1949.

Chaikovskiy’s hometown in Udmurtia seen through the lens of a photography artist from Kramatorsk, Ukraine

by Dmitriy Alimkin

Established in the second half of the 18th century, Votkinsk, population about 100,000, is a town in the Udmurt Republic, Russian Federation. I happened to be there in June 2014. It proved to be easy to get to Votkinsk from Ukraine.

There is a daily train service to Izhevsk from Kazansky station (Kazansky vokzal), one of nine main railway stations in Moscow. One can take a bus from Izhevsk (1,000 km east of Russia’s capital or some five hours by car from Kazan) to Votkinsk (60 km north-east of Izhevsk). The climate in my hometown of Kramatorsk is very different from what they have in Votkinsk. In June the temperature outside remained +12 °С for the whole week in Votkinsk and it often rained. Because of the high levels of humidity, the vegetation here is rich in shades of green, trees are naturally growing luxuriantly.

Although the town is home to a big industrial complex the air is kept clean in the area. I think this is largely thanks to the abundance of forests around the town and relative isolation of the whole region. The local pond is a cherry on top of the Udmutrian cake. It is a man-created body of water that is enveloped by the cityscape. Water is a natural relaxation element. I couldn’t help noticing how enchanted the dwellers of Votkins are by their pond. I regularly observed them flocking at the waterfront: some of them gazing into the distance, some gull spotting. Local fishermen most probably use their pursuit as an excuse to hang out by the water. The fish that they normally catch did not leave me impressed at all.

Local people are calm and well-wishing.  Compared to a provincial town like Kramatorsk — let alone mega cities like Russian capital Moscow — nobody is in a rush here, no fuss is being made about life.  I found the town in a process of large scale earth-digging works: central heating pipes unearthed here, municipal system of roads renovated there. The local cultural centre and an Orthodox church along with a number of other buildings were being freshened up as well.

An old horse carriage on display at the historical museum in Votkinsk, Udmurtia, Russian Federation
An old horse carriage on display at the historical museum in Votkinsk, Udmurtia, Russian Federation

Yet the world knows Votkinsk less for its pond. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a renowned Russian composer, spent the first eight years of his life here. Pyotr Ilyich came to this world in Votkinsk in 1840. A local museum celebrates his life. Beautiful museum. Here you learn about the great composer and have his epoch uncovered for you in an engaging way by the items on the show, centuries-old Russian log houses and a greenhouse of the time among them. Vintage horse carriages caught my eye. The museum is a hop from the pond.

The Berezovka neighbourhood of Votkinsk is home to the mighty sky-reaching birches nestled among the five-story brick houses. Awe-inspiring fur trees and pines form a forest right behind the human dwellings. The forest is chartered by numerous paths, favorite routes for local joggers and MTB enthusiasts. Deeper into the forest, there is a ski training camp. I was left with an impression that skiing is what all Votkin residents do come wintertime. Many of the sportspeople here are said to have achieved significant results in winter sports.

Most of the inhabitants of Votkinsk are ethnic Russians. Some people are of mixed Udmurt-Russian origins. The number of Udmurts is low. The Tatars are even less numerous despite the proximity of Tatarstan. This is why I was surprised when I stumbled on Tatar festivities in Votkinsk. The ethnic minority celebrated Sabantuy, a holiday whose name means ‘plough’s feast’ in Turkic languages.

Sabantuy festivities in Votkinsk, the birthplace of Chaykovskiy
Sabantuy festivities in Votkinsk, the birthplace of Chaykovskiy

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that Votkinsk, a town with the population half the size of Kramatorsk, has new multi-story housing  projects under construction. Some of the modern apartment buildings have recently been completed and saw scores of families move in.

I marvelled at the old part of the town, as I took to the centuries-old streets. Wood is cheap construction material that is in abundance in this part of the world. While one would have to look hard to spot old brick and stone houses in the area — Illycha Street has them, Krasnaya bolnitsa (the Red Hospital) from the early 20th century counts among the rarities as well. The vintage houses made of wood are still in good shape. some of them still feature the authentic gates that spot solar-themed ornaments. It is sad to note however that the pace of modern life has not spared some of the houses. Plastic window panes and satellite dishes are a common view in Votkinsk’s Old Town these days.

The Red Hospital in Votkinsk dates back to the  early 20th century
The Red Hospital in Votkinsk dates back to the early 20th century

I was running out of time. It turned out to be impossible for me to cast an artistic photo net over the town. Essentially, my view of Votkinsk is travel photography.

Votkinsk is a lovely little town for ethno-tourism and a great place for the creative types who need to recharge their mental and spiritual batteries after the hectic life in the city.

For more of Dmitriy Alimkin’s work go here.

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Those who give the Czechs a feel of Zimbabwe’s rhythm, and music in serpentinite

On April 19, 2014, African Sculptures, a Czech company, opened a Zimbabwe-themed exhibition in the ZOO Dvur Králové  in the Bohemia region, some 140 km north-east of Prague. Dr. Marie Imbrova, who drew attention of Steppes in Sync to this event, took part in the launch that also saw the opening of a new gallery called Tengenenge.

Dr. Marie Imbrova (second from right) with Zimbabwe’s IYASA talent at ZOO Dvur Králové, Czech Republic (April 2014)
Dr. Marie Imbrova (second from right) with Zimbabwe’s IYASA talent at ZOO Dvur Králové, Czech Republic (April 2014)

The Czech gallery is named after a sculpture artist community in the Northern Zimbabwe. Many famous artists have worked in the Southern African art village since its foundation in the 1960s. UK’s Prince Charles and late US pop star, Michael Jackson, are mentioned among some of the most famous Shona sculpture collectors.

Other famous Zimbabwe sculpture communities were located at Cyrene Mission near Great Zimbabwe and later at Chapungu Village in the suburbs east of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Some sculpture artists’ activities were supported by the UN Development Program.

For the next three months, more than 180 pieces from Tengenenge will be exhibited in the different parts of ZOO. Zimbabwe’s award-winning performing arts school for youths, IYASA, from Bulawayo was performing at the exhibition launch.

The former Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Zimbabwe, Dr Imbrova is the founding member and the Chairwoman of the Tengenenge Friends Club in the Czech Republic. She works on various projects with Czech TV and radio stations and consults on politics, education and culture of Sub-Saharan African nations. Among her numerous cultural diplomacy activities both in her native Czech Republic and abroad, Dr Imbrova helps HE Trudy Stevenson, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Senegal and The Gambia to promote Zimbabwean culture in West Africa.

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