Poor funding, falling numbers in theatres and improving technologies are some of the reasons affecting the film industry in Africa; this is according to Francis Hweshe, producer of an upcoming feature film, Lost Tongue, set to premier at the Socially Relevant Film Festival New York.
“Funding is difficult to come by and if you wait to get money, you will not make a film. Every film maker should be prepared to empty own pocket,” Hweshe told CNBC Africa.
He also added that other than funding, the film industry had another challenge.
“There is no market in Africa for film and this is forcing us to make films with the intention of exporting to the Western world. We are making films with universal themes that someone in Afghanistan, Spain and United States can watch.
Lost Tongue is one of the ten documentaries from around the world screening at the festival taking place between March 14 and 21.
Announcing the selection of the film to its producers this week, the festival said the film would be the “surprise” for the audiences.
Lost Tongue that cost Mudzingwa and crew 2.5 million rand to produce is also an official selection at the upcoming Singapore World International Film Festival.
The film, a debut feature presented by South African-based Mvura Ya Afrika Productions explores a story of hope and revival of the ancient and endangered N!uu language of a marginalised indigenous Khomani San people in the Kalahari.
Director, Davison Mudzingwa told CNBC Africa that the film captures the journey of Helena Steenkamp, a Khomani San woman embarking on a mission to restore her people’s language – identity.
“A cultural and spiritual journey reveals the battle through time in the language going extinct. Today, the fight continues with new conflicts against time with the number of surviving people who can speak the language diminishing,” says Mudzingwa.
He warns that while pursuing their passion, African filmmakers should not forget fundamentals that determine success in this sector.
“Film making is more risky than the fashion business; you have to bet on your instincts that people will like it. Most African filmmakers put so much on the art of producing and forget the business element,” Mudzingwa warns.