Editor's Comments

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Wed, 30 Mar 2016 11:26
Warren Holden

West Africa features quite strongly in this issue, with a Ghanaian short film, two Nigerian trailblazers and an Ivorian auteur making up some of our lead features. The steady growth and improving output of this region is an inspiration to those of us working elsewhere on the continent. Across the countries on the northwest Atlantic coast – among these three nations in particular – we see an ever-expanding distribution network on several platforms, including television, cinema, home video and mobile, as well as an industry that is fairly consistently lucrative and boasts a growing crop of talent. All of this takes place in an environment with little or no government intervention. While one must acknowledge the influence of foreign investment (particularly from France) in the growth of the Ivorian industry, Ghana and especially Nigeria have built their movie businesses from nothing and (mostly) without state or external support.

Looking farther afield, we examine the domestic success of the South Korean film industry, where locally-made films routinely trounce Hollywood blockbusters at the box office. Seeing these success stories, even fully aware that South Africa, Kenya and other territories in Africa are producing a lot of great work, I am left thinking that most of Africa’s filmmakers must be missing something. In South Africa we are still too reliant on state funding and at the mercy of a handful of major television broadcasters and still habitually producing films that play to empty houses and make no money. We are all looking for answers and yet possibly asking the wrong questions.

We need only look at the astonishing success (by South African box office standards) of Happiness is a Four Letter Word to show that perhaps our assumptions regarding cinema audiences have been off target. This was foreshadowed last year with the success of Tell Me Sweet Something. Long-held beliefs about unreachable demographics making cinematic success all but impossible for local productions are blown out of the water by these two films. Perhaps the tide is turning for South Africa’s filmmakers.

On the technological front, NABShow 2016 is almost upon us and this year’s trends in broadcast technology will soon be revealed. 4K remains on the agenda, with HDR undergoing further refinements but it seems that the flavour of the year, starting with NABShow and continuing through the remainder of the upcoming technology shows, is likely to be virtual reality. The creation of interactive, immersive entertainment, while it has been on the horizon for several years, appears set to top the agenda for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the issue and, as always, please do send any comments, queries or suggestions to me at editor@screenafrica.com

Bye for now.

– Warren Holden

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