UNESCO brings together academia and audio-visual industry players to launch the African Film Industry Report

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) and the University of Zimbabwe organised a hybrid in person-online event on 31 May 2022 to launch the African Film Industry Report. The event was hosted on the University of Zimbabwe campus in Harare. The Report features trends, opportunities as well as challenges that are within the African film and audio-visual industry.

The launch presented a platform for local and regional participants to reflect on the findings of the study, share their views and experiences, and map out ways to strategically formalise and develop a vibrant and sustainable film industry at a national and regional level.

The gathering was the first of its kind in the region, allowing students and educators from six Zimbabwean higher and tertiary education institutions to convene, converse and deliberate with film industry practitioners and experts, civil society organisations, as well as South African audio-visual industry members who joined online.

Dr. Thokozile Chitepo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation physically attended the launch representing Minister Kirsty Coventry.

Dr. Chitepo applauded the report as a strategic tool for the realization of sustainable development at national, regional, and continental levels.

Representing the UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Lidia Arthur Brito at the launch, the Head of the Culture Unit at ROSA, Mr. Francisco Gómez Durán acknowledged the role of academia and other audio-visual training programmes and institutes in the blossoming of cultural and creative industries and how this offers major opportunities for sustainable development and the promotion of the continent’s rich cultural diversity. He stressed the importance of partnerships and taking a human-centred approach to development, encouraging government Ministries, local and international organizations to closely work with creatives and artists in the film industry.

The discussions pointed out the existing challenges on inclusion, particularly the need for better mechanisms to include persons and creatives living with disabilities, creatives and content creators working at a grassroots level, as well as female creatives working within the industry. Panellists were met with dynamic and robust questions by students, who expressed, among other concerns, the need for strong and sustainable formalized systems, especially as they enter the workforce.

Commenting on the need for formal structures to empower and capacitate creatives in audio-visual and film industry, Vimbai Sinjuke, a film producer with roots in the private sector and one of the panellists highlighted the need for creatives to adopt proper business models.

The report and its launch are part and parcel of UNESCO’s commitment to promote the diversity of cultural expression under the 2005 Convention and to strengthen creative and cultural industries in the region; this includes the film industry on the African continent.
Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga’s speech on the day captured the ethos of the gathering.