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Igniting Africa’s creative industry

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The film industry has shown that, if supported fully, it has what it takes to develop Africa’s economies.

Nollywood has, for example, contributed greatly to developing Nigeria’s economy and continues to do so.

Malawi is one of the African countries that are in their infancy in the film industry.

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Nevertheless, it has made positive strides, albeit with inadequate resources.

Filmmakers such as Charles Shemu Joyah have produced films that have gone on to shine at different film festivals, including Road to Sunrise recently.

Most of the players in the creative industry in Africa, Malawi inclusive, are self-taught and, due to the absence of adequate art schools, many have no skills.

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When filmmaker and actress Joyce Mhango Chavula made history for the country in 2016 at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCAs) for her movie Lilongwe, journalists demanded to know where she was trained. They were surprised to learn that she never went to a school of arts.

Mhango Chavula, just like other filmmakers such as Joyah and Flora Suya, have made a name for themselves in the industry out of the passion they have for the art.

They love what they do and, regardless of the little money they get, they work hard to produce the best.

Hav ing observed the potential of the film industry and the creative industry, players such as MultiChoice Africa have decided to come out and give a helping hand.

MultiChoice has since announced a major pan- African initiative for film and television industries. It is known as MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF).

A statement says MTF is aimed at igniting and growing Africa’s creative industries into vibrant, economic centres.

MultiChoice says the African continent is blessed and that there is unexplored talent and unwritten stories.

The statement further says, for over two decades, MultiChoice has been committed to investing in the development of original African programming and showcasing it on the DStv and GOtv platforms across 49 sub-Saharan Africa countries.

The launch of MTF, according to MultiChoice, forms part of the company’s new strategy of furthering its investment through creating shared value by using its core business resources, people, skills and networks to affect a positive change in society that yields benefits for business and society.

The MTF initiative will deliver three touch points set for launch throughout the year. These are MTF academies, master classes and the MTF Portal.

The first one to be launched is the MTF Academy, a 12-month educational programme aimed at furnishing 60 deserving, young, talented people who want to work and innovate in film and television production.

Through the MTF Academy, students will be provided with skills that will develop their talent, connect with industry professionals and tell authentic African stories through a comprehensive curriculum comprising theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in cinematography among other areas.

The programme will take place at three regional MTF Academies based in Kenya for East Africa, Nigeria for West Africa and Zambia for southern Africa where Malawi falls.

In southern Africa, Berry Lwando has been appointed as the Academy Director for the hub.

“I am truly delighted to be a part of this great African renaissance, one that will not only tap into Africa’s latent but grow talent by up-skilling our youths so that they can grow our creative industries,” Lwando said.

In the course of the programme, MTF Academy students will produce television and film content that will be aired on local M-Net channels across the MultiChoice platform including Africa Magic, Maisha Magic East and Zambezi Magic.

MultiChoice has since opened the door for aspiring young film and TV creatives to apply for MTF Academy on www. multichoicetalentfactory. com, and the deadline is July 5 2018.

Sixty students will be selected, 20 from each region.

“There will be transparency and all aspiring young filmmakers should do is to apply,” MultiChoice Sales and Marketing Manager, Chimwemwe Nyirenda, said on Wednesday.

The year-long programme starts on October 1 2018.

MultiChoice Malawi launched the MTF on Wednesday at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, where several players in the creative industry availed themselves.

Culture Minister, Grace Chiumia, was the guest of honour.

However, the launch whose master of ceremonies was musician Patience Namadingo was marred by power outages.

Namadingo took a different direction in driving the event as he introduced speakers as he performed but he could no longer do it in the face of power supply shortages.

The development forced venue owners to apologise over their failure to supply power to the Bamboo room as generators could not function.

Some speeches had to be made in the dark before the event continued outside.

Chiumia hailed MultiChoice for the MTF initiative, saying it had come at the right time.

“As a ministry responsible for the development of the arts, we have for a long time appealed to the private sector to complement our efforts in promoting the arts [industry]. I would like to applaud MultiChoice for this because it will address the skills gap,” Chiumia said.

MultiChoice Malawi General Manager, Augustine Banda, said they were excited and inspired by the many stories yet to be told.

“As we prepare to welcome the most deserving, emerging, passionate filmmakers into these academies, be assured that MultiChoice remains committed to ensuring that quality story-telling and story-making contribute positively to the economies we serve,” Banda said.

Film Association of Malawi President, Ezaius Mkandawire, said the launch of MTF is the best thing to happen to the film industry for the past four years since they launched a development strategy in the film industry.

“We have been looking forward to such support and, so, this will improve capacity and quality of films. We encourage the government to invest in the film sector, which has shown potential,” Mkandawire said.

Mhango Chavula also welcomed the initiative.

“This will surely help grow the creative industry and the next generation will have the skills needed to help them produce quality movies. Most of us are self-taught and, as such, we will also have that chance to develop,” the creator of Nyasaland said.

Suya, who recently premiered her second movie Dear Pen Pal and is working with the Malawi Movies team in another film project to be ready in July salso hailed MultiChoice for the project.

“I am very happy with this initiative. There are, surely, knowledge gaps because we don’t have enough schools. As such, MTF has come at the right time for us to strengthen and improve on what we already know,” she said.

Joyah, who spoke on film-making, among other issues, during the launch welcomed the development.

“We have longed for corporate support and, so, I am happy that things are opening up. There is talent here and all we need are resources,” Joyah said.

He said MTF would help expose talent.

“Young people have come to me to look at their stories and what has mostly lacked is a good story and this is why I spoke on it today. A story is very important in a film and young people have to think hard when coming up with stories,” he said.

The maker of The Last Fishing Boat and Seasons of A Life, who is also searching for funds to produce Chilembwe film, also called on filmmakers to write down their work and put it in a script.

Despite the power shortage that dumped the spirits of the creative players, people had time to enjoy acrobatics from Kufewa Acrobatics.

The Lilongwe-based group has earned praise on the international platform with their kung-fu film Town Monger.

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