Monday, January 21, 2008

What chance of a film industry in Botswana?

source: Mmegi

Last year saw the first production of a big drama movie in Botswana-The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, directed by the internationally-renowned Anthony Minghella.

More recently we have had news of two satellite television content-providers, SABIDO (holding company of etv) and Munhumutape Pay-TV, setting up shop in transmission or production facilities in Gaborone. Over the past 10 or 20 years, digital cameras and computer editing have dramatically opened up filmmaking possibilities in "remote" places. Things are looking up for drama films and documentaries made in Botswana.

Botswana already has one of the world's major wildlife film industries, based in Maun and Chobe. Dereck and Beverly Joubert have made prize-winning films for international television channels, and a full-length elephant drama called Whispers for Hollywood (Buena Vista). Tim and June Liversedge have rivalled them in producing wildlife documentaries, and are building on the success of their lion documentary Roar! being shown on giant Imax screens in major cities around the world.

Maun-Chobe wildlife films took off in the late 1980s, as a spin-off from safari industries moving into Botswana from East Africa. By comparison, Gaborone's film industry is small and still struggling. The oldest established Gaborone firm is Dipolelo/Storyline (Renee Gilbert & John Clement), set up in 1994, which made its name in human documentaries and is about to flight 26 half hour episodes of its drama "soapie" Lelia & Co on Botswana Television (BTV) in 2008. Two other Gaborone filmmakers, with reputations made prior to or separate from BTV, are the documentarist Billy Kokorwe and Moabi Mogorosi famous for his short drama film Hot Chillie.

The big buzz seven or eight years ago was the [continue reading]