21 June 2018

Tanzania: Time to Examine Introducing Visual Effects to Local Films

IN line with his desire to help up-lift and expand the local Film Industry (FI), the resident Italian Ambassador, Roberto Mengoni, welcomed here a visual effects expert from the Rome-Italy-based "Makinarium".

That is their Business Manager Angelo Poggi, to see what they can initiate here, after joining forces with local practitioners of this industry.

Please to remember that the same four-year-old, Makinarium which has been complimented internationally, for having made great strides in the development of "Special and Visual Effects Techniques".

They've made many recognised breakthroughs, therefore, it was not surprising to hear the visiting Poggi, still maintain "the sky is the limit", in an extremely confident tone, at that.

It was last Tuesday evening that a meeting with local practitioners of the FI was arranged, at Amb Mengoni's residence, along the Oysterbay peninsula of Dar es Salaam.

This was a joint initiative with the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), at which Makinarium is expected to be present, for the 21st edition, next month, in Stone Town.

At Tuesday evening's meeting Poggi, a professional music composer, with a 20- year background in producing animations, to which was introduced regular films, ten years ago, was given the opportunity to explain more about Makinarium and their purpose here.

The same question was put to him by the 'Daily News' after he had finished his presentation, which was assisted by a series of short film clips, to demonstrate the kind of things they did practically.

"We started in Italy with a big challenge and we won, so we want to start in East Africa and now, I'm here in Tanzania.

We want to introduce our knowhow and give the possibility to those here that want to create something new in the visual areas of film.

This has to be local but with an international prospective to it," he said. "I think that we can make good progress if we think a little different.

If you think different you can make something different. The world is waiting for new contents. The "Black Panther" (feature film) is an example that this is the time for the Black super hero," he added.

According to Poggi, the time couldn't be better, given that teenagers the world over are using the social network, therefore, have the same visual tastes.

What is left is to help them towards developing their creativity, he suggested. He had arrived in the country on the Tuesday morning, especially for this encounter and left the country for his home yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Before leaving the country yesterday, the visiting Poggi had promised to meet any local stakeholders of the FI, at the Italian embassy in the morning, to further exchange their ideas.

This, he told the 'Daily News' should help take the discussion to another level. As a sponsor in this year's ZIFF, he's supposed to return here next month, for the 21 edition, which is slated to start on the 7th of July.

He's hoping this will be another chance to exchange more with members of the industry.

Seeing that the ZIFF played a decisive role in bringing him here and are helping provide the platform for him to meet with members of the local industry, it seemed prudent to hear what their Festival Director, Fabrizio Colombo, had to say concerning this initiative.

He started by telling the 'Daily News' that it has been predicted by internationally- renowned economists that from now to 2020, Africa, which includes Tanzania's, entertainment market will rise.

"This is partly because communication has become easier and people are even watching films on mobiles and so on.

The market is rising with lots of money involved. I see it and perceive that many foreign companies will be coming to get their piece of the cake.

So I said, as a festival first of all, we need to protect the local industry. We need to improve it and defend our filmmakers," Colombo explained.

The best way, he believes this can be done, is by finding ways to push local standards up. This being successful, he maintains not only will better films be available for local viewers, there'll be more sales to the international market from here.

This is why, he maintains that at next month's festival they have also invited DISCOP, who are the major market in Africa for television and film content.

Another aspect within this initiative Colombo mentioned they are planning for is to start an academy.

This he maintains will act as a hub where all the elements of the industry could meet and training conducted with an initial small number. All of this, he explained is based on a business-minded approach.

This, in turn he proposed would go towards building the capacity of local youths, so that they can come to a higher levels of realisation and sell their products.

Seeing that the Arts Council's, BASATA Executive Secretary, Godfrey Mngereza, was also present, as representation of the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe, the 'Daily News' saw it useful to hear what he had to say.

He saw it as a good thing because it is necessary for local film practitioners to learn from "other worlds".

"We're lacking some things in terms of equipment, together with some techniques of management and distribution within the industry.

What we have in Tanzania is a lot of talent, so we really need to learn from this Makinarium. After acquiring this knowledge we can then come back to promote our Art and film industry," Mngereza suggested.

However, Mngereza also maintained that for this initiative to be fully beneficial, local film stakeholders must make sure they take time to understand Makinarium's agenda first, before taking any further action.

He acknowledged of there being much possibility to learn, but emphasised the importance of local film practitioners maintaining a firm sight of what they want to do, with this new input.

On another hand, the government, through such bodies as BASATA, would have to provide necessary assistance by making sure prevailing policies protect the local industry.

These things being put in place, together with physical support from a wide span of all local stakeholders, would help make sure the required benefits are obtained.

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