21 January 2013

Tanzania: Local Film Members Bitter About New Codes

MEMBERS of the Tanzania Film Federation (TAFF) came out bitterly against the new codes imposed by the National Board of Film Censors.

They had gathered at the Vijana Social Club in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam to express their views in this regard to the media. Not one chair was left vacant within the semi-open hall and all standing spaces were taken-up with those members who had not secured a seat.

At one stage in the meeting, while the TAFF President, Simon Mwakifwamba addressed their members the 'Daily News' had the opportunity of talking to their Chairman, Mike Sangu, on the reasons why they had called the gathering.

"We have gathered members of the film industry from all over the country together with group leaders because of a major concern we all share. The first is to express our objections to the laws which the National Board of Film Censors has introduced and the principals in which they are operating. These are killing the local market.

They are imposing very high codes when the industry has not yet even settled down properly," Sangu replied.He continued to explain that such high codes for making a film automatically makes it impossible for them to be able to sell their productions.

Currently, the board is asking for 60,000/- every hour it takes to assess a film. Now if this is done quickly it becomes 100,000/-, the Chairman explained. Further, prior to this a director is expected to pay 500,000/- to be given permission to shoot their film within three months.

For those, who are able to quickly do it within this period they have to part with 500,000/- but those who cannot, which are the majority, he maintains, it becomes1m/-.

Prior to these fees being imposed on the industry earlier this month, there were none. According to Sangu, their members are not expecting to continue completely free of any charges, but believe the ministry has been too unreasonably by placing very high charges on an industry which is still in its virgin stages.

This is the reason why they have constructed various groups within the industry, like the directors and actors associations, so that it is easy to trace where everyone is.

They at TAFF have made it compulsory for all their members to pass their films through the process. However, they have noticed that the Board has betrayed them, after realising that they are many and seem to only regard them as a source for getting an income.

Now this is why they have asked for so much money to be paid by members, irrespective of it being beyond reality. Added to TAFF's objection to the fees Sangu also spoke of their other reason for calling the gathering.

"We have great doubt of the sincerity of the Film Censorship Board through their Executive Secretary, Joyce Fisoo. We have no faith in her and do not want her again because we have been appealing to her beyond understanding, without any success. Also, we have an objection to Yustus Mkinga, the Executive Officer of COSOTA.

Now this is a body that should be pushing for the rights of actors but instead of them doing that they are just pressing us down more. We do not want these two people at all," he stressed.

According to the TAFF, what should be done to put things right, is for the board to look for ways in which it can fight against piracy and give the indusry a financial code that is reasonably, like 500,000/- to shoot a film within one year.

In his speech to those present the TAFF President, Simon Mwakifwamba, spoke out openly amid loud cheers from their members for changes in the requested code on films and the removal of Fisoo together with Mkinga, on the ground that their actions were against advancement of the industry and its members.

Prior to Mwakifwamba's address, Sangu reminded their members that their Executive Secretary, Wilson Makubi, had written to the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports last August 7, requesting for certain corrections to be done to the then proposed laws governing local films and drama. In that letter TAFF had explained the reasons for this request and their subsequent reasons for opposing it, as it stood.

Last December 12, Makubi wrote again to the minister, requesting information in regard to when their request for these corrections is likely to be made.

He also wanted to know what procedures were going to be used in the execution of these laws. Again, to date they have not received any reply from the ministry.

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