These efforts should be celebrated as indications of enthusiasm, creative genius and sheer endeavour that auger well for the future of an industry (by any definition).
Making it work
In a recent paper I argue that making a film in most developing countries is mégotage, as observed by the ‘father of African cinema’, Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène.
Evidence on the ground shows that the mégotage sometimes pays off. Zimbabweans are known for their resilience and ability to kiya-kiya (‘make things work’ in the Shona language) when faced with what seems to be a dead end. A large portion of the country’s economy is characterised by such kiya-kiya efforts, as anthropologist Jeremy Jones observes.
At the same time, Zimbabwe’s Central Film Laboratories serviced the southern African region’s film processing needs. All this promise has disappeared, owing to a combination of political and economic factors that have traumatised most economic sectors, and this is the source of the pessimism.
Riches from grassroots
What I celebrate is that, in the midst of such adversity, filmmaking continues to thrive. A critical mass of youthful filmmakers armed with camcoders, laptops, cell phones and an assortment of improvisations, has emerged and continues to keep the filmmaking impulse alive. Among the leading lights are Von Tavaziva (Go Chanaiwa Go Reloaded), Shem Zemura (Kushata Kwemoyo), Joe Njagu (Cook Off) and Nakai Tsuro (Mwanasikana), to mention just a few.
There are further encouraging signs, if the aesthetics of contemporary music videos is anything to go by. The work of Vusa ‘Blaqs’ Hlatshwayo and Willard ‘Slimmaz’ Magombedze indicates cinematographic competences that can further improve the video-film genre.