Carrying out an investigation on documentaries in an area such as Central Africa, where the classical film industry is a dying species, leads us to pose many questions. How can there be documentaries where there is no longer fiction? The largest broadcasters and festivals handle very few films issuing from Central Africa. Is this due to the scarce production or is there a parallel circuit where these films exist? Taking into account the political history of this region, scarred by lengthy dictatorships, have filmmakers coming from this period been marked by this postcolonial era? Some stayed in their countries, others left for the Diaspora. How can we define this postcolonial period? Should we speak of the militant cinema firmly rooted in the Diaspora or should we speak of the propagandistic structures that came into being at the service of power? Even if the filmmakers working in authoritarian countries managed to work independently, were they still under the yoke of a state that would not tolerate criticism? What is the definition of a documentary if those who call themselves filmmakers just film images with no true meaning behind them? Without questioning reality, without confronting the audience, without professional criticism. Can we define this as a documentary just like that? And returning to space/ time, some countries nowadays seem to have left behind the postcolonial era and settled in an undefined intermediate area. However, the stigmas from dictatorship are still present and at work daily in the imaginary, as is the desire for freedom that they testify to through their approach. All this just to make it clear that there are many questions to be answered before setting down the groundwork for this research.

The fact that the institutions in most countries have not really been functioning for dozens of years has led to general chaos setting in. And when we say chaos, we should consider it in the light of general disorder. Chaos has different forms. Sometimes, everything has been dismantled or it has imploded: no more administration, no personnel, no archives (assumed abandoned or stolen), an utter disconnection from cinema. All that is left are empty titles for ghost managements. That is what we can find in those countries that had a strong administration. The most amazing part (or the saddest) is that these organisms, on the verge of natural extinction ten years ago, were saved by the intervention of International Cooperation. We have prolonged the life of non-productive offices, true manufacturers of corruption, by 15 or 20 years. With fresh economical support, materials and the logos giving them added value by their foreign partners, these state organisms have kept their titles and privileges, but have changed nothing as regards the disorder, the absence of true work and the corruption. These institutions are in ruins, opening the door to spectacular images such as film libraries where the films have disintegrated, obsolete libraries located in buildings with no electricity and oftentimes flooded. Other state organisms are not in these dire straits! These problems are linked directly to cinema.

Another form of chaos is generated by fossilization. Certain state institutions have been wrapped around themselves so long, in an everyday functioning similar to that of a family, that the film industry management tools have “tuned out”. They are no longer in sync with the society they represent and, above all, they are completely outdated regarding the rest of the world’s evolution. There is a struggle between those people who strive to preserve those entities that we could qualify as “dinosaurian”, and an emerging group who looks towards a new cinema. The dissention and different outlooks are not the problem, but it becomes confusing when the former members of an ancient time (and those who hold the keys to power) do not wish to appropriate the new cinema as their own, but prefer to railroad those who try to develop it.

This obstruction leads to unhealthy dynamics in a universe, and a small one at that, where several factions are developing in parallel. The faction that does hold economic power reproaches the others for their lack of education and for not making films. In the broadest sense of Cinema! (Questionable at best.)

On another hand, there is everyone else. They do not deny that they lack information, they proclaim that the doors to education are closed to them. They acknowledge that they have no money, because the markets remain in the hands of the same people, and hey find legitimacy in the strength of their work. They produce films, reach their audience, they have created their own space in the popular universe. They reproach the old school for hanging on to 35 mm and 16 mm. When, according to them, anything shot on film is already dead, especially in Africa. Why cling to the past?

The result of all the above is a sense of psychological chaos. People look at each other with hostility, tensions run high, and no one knows what to do. The dynamics are so counterproductive that the few available resources are not employed wisely. Chaos is present in the films. On one side, there are people with energy, a purpose perhaps ill expressed, but sincere, and on the other, there are equipment and skills that benefit no one.

If things went well, in general, there would be more films, more efficient film infrastructures and documentary films in Central Africa would shine. We would see these films on the traditional film circuits. But this is not the case. Although this does not mean that nothing is happening either. We must make the distinction between what manages to be visible, because the films have the right format and a production that allows them to be part of the broadcast networks, and the productions that do not manage to cross that border, and still exist on their own.

The difficulties conjured up by the current situation could be considered normal if we take a closer look at other sectors of society: economy, education, health…

Everything has been askew for the past twenty years, so it is not surprising that sectors such as cinema, considered marginal, should not be able to resist the general degradation. Nevertheless, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, there was a political “liberalization” in certain countries, accompanied by a proliferation of non-state generated images: video clips, etc. The appearance of private televisions in the nineties was a sign of things moving. The emergence of digital and other, lighter, less expensive technologies, helped a new generation of image and story creators to break through.

I have steered this investigation towards asking what would be needed to make things better for the world of documentaries. I also centered the research on filmmakers working in this area.

It is not a matter of preference, or wanting to exclude filmmakers of the Diaspora, it is just a way of limiting the area in which we search for the economy of art. The financing mechanisms and supports for filmmakers in Western countries are well-known, they are traditional. If we use this framework, it is more interesting to find out how the others do it, how those who live in economies without means of producing cinema do it. It is possible that the urge to shoot forces them to invent new ways of making films? A supposition that is not confirmed by reality (I refer to it in this study). To comprehensively understand the whole system, I restricted myself to understanding the path taken by the individuals, their urge to make films, how they started shooting, and why they continue to make films in such a “hostile” environment. I then tried to understand how documentaries fit into their work. I started with the individual to reconstruct the mechanisms of the ensemble.



He is 60 years old, a musician and a filmmaker. He made the first feature film in the country, Gito, the Ungrateful. He has made 4 feature-length documentaries.

His first documentary film (La Mère et l’Ange – The Mother and the Angel) was about the first woman to publicly announce that she was HIV positive. This woman became a legend. Even if cinema is still at an embryonic stage, the population is drawn to documentaries because these films portray daily life.

He created the Burundi Film Festival 4 years ago. The Festicab is a film network of the East African Community that he set in place so that people could exchange their last productions. It is a first step to mutual support and assistance between filmmakers in our region. We are trying to create a synergy. And this will help the younger people to travel and progress in cinema.

During the festival, there are always training workshops. Direction, cinematography, sound… BFC (Burundi Film Center) was put into motion by the Canadians, Coprodac (The Collective of Producers for Developing Arts and Culture). Day after day, there are more training programmes available and advances are made.

The governments in Central Africa do not truly understand the importance of culture in development. However, at an international level, things are in motion. These countries signed the UNESCO agreements (2003-05) for Culture, but do not act in consequence. They have not understood or integrated the meanings behind the signed agreements. There is a serious problem as regards vision and determination.

The countries in Central Africa are privileged because they have varied resources but these resources are not used.



With a degree in communications, he first worked as a cameraman/editor and then moved towards direction. He founded a production company, Netty Productions.

When we compare commissioned films to creation films, unfortunately, commissioned films are far superior.

There are not many documentary makers. The the making of documentaries is not very common because directors do not really have producers. And producers do not want to get involved in documentaries because there is no window for finding funding.

The first feature film was produced 20 years ago (Gito, the Ungrateful – Léonce Ngabo). Fiction films have started to revive over the past few years, but only in the shape of short features.

The only way for them to get financing is by taking it from their own pockets. There is a synergy between the younger people. When there is a project, they contact the different technicians (cameraman, sound engineer, editor), they coordinate and they start shooting. Everyone does it voluntarily. Now even the actors are willing to donate their time to get something done and show what can be done.

In the second stage, where some people are now, it’s all about showing what you have produced. This phase started along with the Festival (Festicab).

The Ministry is present, but there is no clear policy as regards cinema. The Ministry backs the Festival, but its aid is not significant. The Ministry needs to support creation. Without creation, we will never be able to speak of cinema.

There is no film school. There are just Communications Faculties at the universities, but they have no materials. Most people train on the job or learn abroad.

We need to reinforce our skills. Most people have some knowledge, but they need to build foundations for it if they want to become truly professional.

Any government coming out of a crisis such as ours is going to say that culture is not one of their priorities, that first they need to make progress in other sectors. But they are wrong. And it is up to people in the film sector to make them see that, through culture, we can raise awareness and reconcile the population. We can offer the population hope again. Even if there are not very many resources, if there is a will, we could make a few films every year.



Burundi’s first democratically elected president was assassinated in October 1993 after only four months in office. Since then, some 200,000 Burundians have perished in widespread, often intense ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi factions. Hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced or have become refugees in neighboring countries. Burundian troops, seeking to secure their borders, intervened in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998. More recently, many of these troops have been redeployed back to Burundi to deal with periodic upsurges in rebel activity. A new transitional government, inaugurated on November 1, 2001, was to be the first step towards holding national elections in three years. However, the unwillingness of the Hutu rebels to enact a cease fire with Bujumbura continues to obstruct prospects for a sustainable peace.



Burundi has hardly any recorded cinematic history. This country has suffered tremendeously from wars and ethnic rebellion throughout the twentieth century. During the colonial period (Belgium) news and propaganda films were shown in theatres in the major cities. In 1980 Burundian Jean-Michel Hussi Nyamusimba produced the first Burundi film, a French coproduction called Ni-Ni. In 1992 Burundi’s first feature film, Gito l’Ingrat, was released, a Swiss French Burundi co-production directed by Leonce Ngabo.

The film earned some international recognition by winning awards at the Montreal and FESPACO film festivals. He fled as a political refugee to Canada in 1995. He is currently working on his second feature film, Le parfum de ciel. In the mid nineties the Collectif d’Enfants Burundais co-produced several 30-minute documentaries with Belgian Atelier Graphoui. Since then financial difficulty forced the closure of Burundi’s only film production company. Today Burundi still suffers from the ethnic wars and no films are currently in production.



by Claire Diao

Here, we drive on the right with English steering wheels, we try not to go out once the sun has set, we clean the streets on Saturday as a gesture of “collective work”, we sniff at the air full of vegetable aromas, we admire the waves crashing on the bank of the river, our eyes linger on the sharpness of someone’s traits, on women’s Afro cuts from the 70s, on men having their hair done at women’s hair salons, on the soldiers and armed police in the city, on small fishes (ndagala) to be nibbled on, or tasty beers (Primus, Amstel) to be downed in the bars.

Welcome to Burundi – karibu in Swahili! In Bujumbura, the capital of the country, the 4th Edition of the Burundi International Film and Audiovisual Festival (Festicab) took place in June. It was a great celebration honoring the Seventh Art in a country just emerging from a war and that does not yet know if art and cinema buffs will help the country move forward. Nonetheless, everyone, sponsors, government officials, guests and godmother (Aminata Diallo Glez, the Kadi Jolie of Burkina Faso), cheered on the event and are full of hope as regards the future of this budding cinema.

In 1991, there was a internationally lauded feature film, Gito, the Ungrateful, by Léonce Ngabo; and in 2011, so twenty years later, the FESPACO awarded the Special Prize for Fostering Human Rights to the documentary Histoire d’une haine manqué (Story of a Hatred Missed) by Eddy Munyamuneza. As of 2009, local prizes are awarded at Festicab to young short-feature filmmakers who make either fiction or documentaries.

There have been numerous screenings at the IFB (French Institute of Burundi) this year, attended by intellectuals and students studying History via quality documentaries programmed at Panorama. There were also completely packed screenings and shouts of laughter when Kino took place – the first event of its kind in Burundi that allowed dozens of young people to make short features in 48 hours.

There have also been debates with the students of Celab (Burundi Center for Teaching Languages), gathered around a flat screen TV and a DVD player made in Taiwan that would shriek out incomprehensible words in Taiwanese each time the operator opened or closed the DVD player. Debates in which directors Queen Belle Monique Nyeniteka, Lara Lee… were the only women in the auditorium because female students stayed away from the Public University at night.

There were also screening sessions organised at the Kamenge Young People’s Center, a superb free training center for young people in the neighborhood where the war broke out in 1993/1994. However, the center’s multiple activities (concerts, musical showcases…) did not leave time to organise the screenings as they deserved, the music from outside overlapping the already imperfect sound in the room, and young people rehearsing would stand in front of the screen rapping out loud while they waited for their turn on stage… There were screenings inland as well, which the journalist from Radio Culture, Alain Nova, attended, bearing witness that it is hard to organise screenings during exams, even if Burundi films were met with great success.

There was also a ceremony held on the beach, at the edge of the water, where the Burundi Drums thundered while dancers flew through the air. However, due to the lack of resources (Festival subsidies were suspended), international guests were absent and the organisers of the Festicab had to step up on stage, time after time, to pick up the uncollected awards. There were many films, enthusiasm, catalogues held up at customs, incredible efforts made by the team, humor, consideration, and the guests were received with open arms. There was even a Etalon de Yennenga (a Yennenga Stallion), handed over by the Festival’s godmother to Léonce Ngabo, while waiting for a filmmaker to come get one at the Fespaco in Ouagadougou.

But, above all, there is hope in a country that has just emerged from a war, and that is looking towards the future, hope that cinema can restore the luster to this country’s image, help young talents emerge, and reach more of the populace thanks to the acquisition of a mobile movie theater that takes films to them rather than waiting for the population to come to them.



  • Gito, l’ingrat 1992, Léonce Ngabo
  • Métis (Le) 1997, Joseph Bitamba
  • Ultime aventure (L’) 2007, Natacha Songore
  • Na Wewe (Toi aussi) 2010, Ivan Goldschmidt
  • Pourquoi moi? 2011, Vénuste Maronko
  • Umukundanya 2011, Fabrice Iranzi
  • Ubugaragwa 2012, Célestin Gakwaya
  • Talent caché (Le) 2012, Sandra Simbakwira
  • Désillusions (Les) 2012, Olivier Iturerere
  • Nitwa Rehema 2012, Joseph Ndayisenga
  • Prix de la veangeance (Le) 2012, Ophélie Baranshamaje
  • Ruine de l’âme 2012, Paul Ngenzi



  • Apport de la femme burundaise dans l’élevage (L’) Spès Ndongozi
  • Portrait d’une chanteuse burundaise Spès Ndongozi
  • Participation de la femme burundaise dans l’amélioration de l’habitat des pauvres Spès Ndongozi
  • Au Royaume de Mwambusta 1951, Gérard de Boe
  • Sacre de Mgr Ntuyahaga (Le)
  • Marie-Louise: Femme aux multiples facettes 1998, Sham-Jeanne Hakizimana
  • Armée des anges (L’) 2000, Joseph Bitamba
  • Bulaya, qu’as-tu fait de mon enfant? 2004, Lydia Ngaruko
  • ANSS une lutte ordinaire / An Extraordinary Struggle 2006, Samuel Tilman
  • Mieux vaut mal vivre que mourir 2007, Justine Bitagoye, Gaudiose Nininahazwe
  • Kazuba le soleil se lève 2008, Justine Bitagoye
  • En attendant le retour des éléphants 2008, Léonce Ngabo
  • Mère et l’Enfant (La) 2008, Léonce Ngabo
  • Histoire d’une haine manquée 2010, Eddy Munyamuneza
  • Burundi 1850-1962 2010, Léonce Ngabo
  • Etranger chez soi 2010, B. M Nyeniteka, E. W. Kaneza
  • Kubita 2011, Maria Tarantino
  • Enseignement du kiswahili au Burundi (L’) 2011, Raymond Arnaud
  • Suzanne 2011, Evrard Niyomwungere
  • Des mariages de swahilis à Buyenzi 2012, Raymond Arnaud
  • Artiste burundais (L’) 2012, Christian Elvis Sinzinkayo
  • Droit à l’éducation, mythe ou réalité 2012, Clarine NKurunziza



He reached cinema via books, studying Sociology and Philosophy. As the population would not read his books, he decided to make films!

His trajectory in cinema includes the work he did with Claire Denis (Chocolat), the films he directed and produced (Sango Malo, The Great White of Lambarene), and the creation of the Ecran Noirs Festival (Black Screens) and his school of cinema (ISCAC).

When asked what he was missing for everything to work better:

  • He did not dedicate enough time to creating – he was always running after the
  • He was lacking a working He self-financed everything.
  • He did not have enough competition! There was not sufficient production in the Even when there are more bad movies, there is a higher possibility of making a good film.
  • For over 20 years, he did not have access to public Financing came from France. And so, what the French wanted to see was the predominant theme in cinema.

What allowed him to survive were the assignments he received: reportages for French television, films for NGOs and Cooperation Projects. He did not dive into documentaries because he did not believe it was a viable model. And, above all, he did not have a documentary education.

It is astonishing to realize that a director that started filming towards the end of the eighties, when Africa was still doing okay, had the same economical problems as today, when Africa is doing very poorly (no working capital, self-financing…). But we should ask why he did not try to diversify his financing sources. It was obvious that the financial aid from the French state was going to dry out one day or another, and not just for economic reasons, but for strategic ones.

In his own words: The only way to guarantee that one can continue making films in cinema history is if you can be successful in the market. If there is one thing that African cinema from that time did not succeed at, it was existing in the markets (movie theaters, DVD sales…). Cameroon is a country that has produced the most quality filmmakers in Africa. In just one generation, there could be 4 or 5 high-caliber filmmakers, and that is rare. What was missing for this to catch on at an international level?

A filmmaker told me a story that astonished me, and also said a lot about a certain period at the same time. His film was participating at an important festival, and there was a constant buzz around it. Miramax (the Weinstein brothers) was interested in it. And the filmmaker was really excited about the idea of selling his film in the US. He spoke to his producer about the follow-up (sending the DVD, sales pitch…).

The producer dragged his feet with an attitude that could even be considered hostile. And, of course, the dream of Miramax, of opening in the United States, of gaining momentum in his career… it all went up in smoke. The sale never took place. Seen from another angle, the French producer in question belonged to a certain generation and the militant culture pertaining to it. From his vantage point, the USA, especially with Miramax in the equation, was terrible. And, more importantly, back then the French system was enough. African filmmakers only had Paris as an outlet, and did not have any other options outside the continent (or did not allow themselves any other options – both are valid). They joined forces with producers of cinéma d’auteur who were the only ones who showed any interest in Africa.

This story dates back 20 years, more or less. Since then, the system has changed. The world is much more globalized. The French ministries have a lot less money. But young filmmakers from Cameroon nowadays have a much harder time and are far less prepared to enter the world film industry.


“Unfortunately, we have had our fill of cinéma d’auteur!”


A filmmaker told me these words with profound resignation. I had asked him the following: “With all those large private banks in Cameroon, all those rich men that live in the country, no one has thought to go knocking on their doors to get them to invest in cinema?” His answer was: “Unfortunately, we have had our fill of cinéma d’auteur. We have frightened off the businessmen, the audience”. And, in the end, we end up on our own. His observation shocked me by its truth. It is the reverse gear of cinema’s history. Cinéma d’auteur films (good ones! Not those from the “author factory” that are just another lot of bad factory films). bring vitality to the film industry, and are often those that seem to live on in time and determine the cultural identity of the industry. But they do not exist on their own. They need a well-oiled system by their side with stable financing (state or commercial subsidies). With the absence of public aid in Cameroon, foreign funds were substituted by state funds, with the corresponding spec sheet dictating their agenda.

What do Foreign Ministries export as their image? Cinéma d’auteur. Because they are the windows to their countries. I imagine that they must justify the expenditure by trying to recreate a similar image to their own when they finance films in Africa. In other words, financing a film on the metaphysic- philosophical reflections around the alleged cosmogony of a far away village is more praise-worthy than a car chase through the streets of Yaoundé. We are referring to ministrial financing, of course. I can hardly imagine the film industry funds of those same countries financing this genre of films. They would clearly opt for the car chase through the streets of Yaoundé. What a missed opportunity in History! Documentary cinema also had a beginning that left much to be desired.

The State did not play its role, television neither. In general lines, it is public television that gives life to a documentary culture in a country. Filmmakers start getting equipped while in public service and develop their career alongside television. That is the case in Europe and Canada, but in Cameroon and other African countries, public television was taken hostage by dictatorships and transformed into a propaganda tool. Nowadays, what is truly a pity is the hodgepodge between journalism and documentary. If it looks like a report, it goes straight into the documentary folder. As soon as there are any images of reality, it is classified as a documentary, and that is that.

One filmmaker raised the question of our rulers’ ignorance. They know nothing about cinema. They are like spectators that go to the movies, they judge it and that is as far as they get. There is no thought process directed towards the mechanisms that bring a film to life. The government needs to learn how to understand what happens as far as the financing mechanisms of the cinema industry are concerned, and have a clear vision over several years. But, who makes up the government? At the beginning, simple citizens who, by one path or another, end up in those posts. But before they make it to the government, they have no film and cultural background. And no economic education as far as the film industry is concerned. How are they supposed to be able to make good decisions? However, do even filmmakers themselves have the sufficient economic education? Do they have a sufficiently informed awareness to carry out the needed lobbying in the government? There cannot be a change if there is not a concrete and intelligent commitment – a dynamic one – on the part of the filmmakers as regards their relationship with economy and politics.



Hilarion is a plastic artist who decided to join the Ministry in an attempt to fix the problems inside it.

His first conclusion was that politics in Cameroon do not work in a Cartesian manner. Decisions are made at the top and then make their way downwards.

Artists do not bother to take the time to understand how the Ministry of Culture works and use that to their advantage. There is a void as regards the Ministry’s functioning, the fact that it has a budget and that, in that budget, it has fixed expenditures for personnel, infrastructures and new buildings. The financing mechanisms for projects are just as ignored by the artists who do not even bother to register (because you do need to register) to have access to State funding.

The most crucial part of his conclusions is the matter of the point of view. According to him, from the government’s standpoint, there are several problems. The first is the lack of general standards. Artists want aid, but if you look at the quality of their work, it is far below professional standards. There is no modesty in their approach to their work. They believe they are making masterpieces when they do not even achieve the norm. This is applicable to painting, music, cinema and many other forms of art. The worst part is the ingratitude. The government sees artists as people who only come asking for money, but when they receive it, they do not say that they have, they do not even thank the government for its assistance. There is a culture of bad faith that poisons the cultural world as a whole.

Therein lies the great debate. When I raised this point with directors: “The State gave money, but people kept it for themselves and said nothing.” Anyone I asked reacted strongly and angrily. What is interesting about this observation is that it is made by someone who is an artist and who has crossed over to the other side. Seeing how things work from another standpoint, ascertaining what happens.

Hilarion told me he had seen signed documents, proof of payment, it is all there. He suggested I write a letter to the Minister of Culture to ask him for access to these documents and make them public if I so wished. I hesitated, because I believe the goal of this investigation is not so much settling accounts or judging others, as understanding the problems and suggesting solutions.


This specific case in which the government says that it has spent money that has never been acknowledged is interesting. For once, the guilty party says that it has not always been guilty and asks why stones are being thrown at it (systematically). Organisms that only work within the buddy system, thereby blocking any talents emerging from environments different from theirs, or directors that show no gratitude as regards state funding. A conclusion can be drawn, there is a culture of bad faith. I would give it another name: “The culture of self-destruction.”

A group of directors told me that filmmakers who made it abroad never did anything for younger directors. Those who succeed are fed by pathological egoism.

But is this not putting too much responsibility on those who have succeeded? Like any director, they fight to bring their own films into existence. Perhaps, in this fight there is no time left to think about others. The group of directors answered me with an example:

They never had access to cinema because they did not form part of the small clique that orbited around power. However, they were highly motivated and managed to make a film. As they were freelancers at national television, they got organised and promoted the screening of the film. They created a buzz. The day of the screening there was a huge crowd. And the buzz echoed throughout the city. Thanks to their success, the inner circle of the government elite, who had closed the doors to cinema in their faces, was forced to integrate them in a training program. But, during the program, they were never given the camera. The camera was always in the hands of the weakest, of the incompetent, of those who could never pose a risk as a possible future competitor.

There are tons of stories such as this one. If you speak with the directors of international festivals that have invited the directors that have succeeded, and who were at the summit of their glory when they attended the festival, these festival directors will tell you how impossible these directors were as guests. They behaved like crown princes, demanded unaffordable hotels, and were rude to the festival personnel. At the same time, they were “the chosen” by the foreign ministries financing films in Africa, all the while well implanted in the country; there was an absolutely crazy cult to money. When we compare this behavior to that of the elite of the dictatorships in Central Africa (and probably elsewhere), the similarity is striking. The same mentality, the same corruption, the same attitude… that, twenty years later, is leading us down the path to destruction.

This culture of bad faith, built on egoism and on working against each other, has produced an antidevelopment.

And the result, a logical one at that, is simple to foresee: Impoverishment of the sector, no renovation of personnel and an inability to grow. As there is no vitality, there is no investment fund to follow development funds that first arrived from foreign ministries as regards cinema. Cinema is a tool that is built on pooling efforts, skills and resources. That is the system’s foundation.

Cinema cannot escape from certain evils of postcolonial Africa. What is set forth above could certainly be applied to more sectors of society. Cinema is just a small segment. Contrary to other sectors of the economy, it could easily be brought to a stop, restructured and restarted on sound foundations.

That would allow us to envision a beginning of prosperity in ten or fifteen years. It would most certainly be quicker and easier that trying to fix what exists right now.


A passionate creator of films since childhood and a member of a school cine club during his teens, he did not study at a film school abroad as so often happens in these cases. His training was carried out via a stint at television, a summer at La Fémis University, and the opportunities he had to work with foreign media. When he attended the MIPDOC, his eyes were opened to the potential of the international market. He grew more professional at his job working with Asiatic and English-speaking crews. He comes from a culture of subsidies, and he realized that what was missing the most in the country was a true understanding and awareness of the international market. The culture of meritocracy is what can really make films push forward in Cameroon. Together with other professionals, he is currently a member of APIC (Independent Producers of Cameroon Association). This association has been in existence for five years now, and is formed by companies. They are currently eleven in total, and they strive to maintain a certain level of professionalism in all their activities. The APIC also actively works for the regulation of the sector. Each party must play its part. For example, the National Cameroon Television (CRTV) is practicing unfair competition by receiving programmes free from Canal France Internationale. It broadcasts programmes that it has not paid for and, in the process, this policy does not allow the Cameroon industry to develop because CRTV does not buy programming; and when it does, it buys at much lower prices. Another of APIC’s demands is that the professionals in the industry upgrade their knowledge/ skills. People claim to have this and that title, but are not really competent. The lack of any fixed regulations opens the door to poor quality because they have no expertise. And that makes the prices drop lower. We need to create a guild with renown professionals. But there must also be administrative discipline in order to instill an ethical system in production. Another problem we have is that the younger generations are in a hurry to attain fame and glory. So they do not take the time to learn as they should, they are lacking passion and film culture. If all these problems were truly tackled, face on, we could change the outlook of cinema in Cameroon. The future is open to everything.



The former French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon merged in 1961 to form the present country. Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy.


The history of Cameroonian cinema starts in Paris with a documentary by Jean-Paul Ngassa covering the situation of Cameroonian students in France, Aventure en France (1962). This same topic inspires Thérèse Sita Bella, the director of Tom-Tom in Paris (1963). On return to his country, Ngassa starts working for the State service producing propaganda films about this newborn nation (1970). In 1975 on the national and international screens, the first full length films.

The most prolific early filmmaker (produced between 1971 and 1985) and actor in Cameroon is Alphonse Béni who features in Cameroon Connection. In 1983, Arthur Si Bita made his feature film, Les Coopérants, a modern fable. Daniel Kamwa, who breezily passes from the role of director to that of actor, generally chooses the tones of comedy. His films include, as mentioned, Pousse-Pousse (1975) and Le Cercle des Pouvoirs (1997), a cinematic accusation of Cameroonian society’s number one burden: corruption.

So a handful of filmmakers in Cameroon with good international reputations gained acclaim, but there is little in the way of a formal film production infra- structure. Local skills are available in the country and in the rest of the region. Having both English and French as official languages, filmmakers and technicians from the country have special advantages on the region’s larger products. They are surrounded by countries which are either Anglophone or Francophone, hence the Cameroonians are well presented in camera productions all over the region. On screens, however, Cameroonian films are hardly shown at all to the local audience. Foremost because the audience strongly favours Hollywood and French action productions, but another influence also inhibits showing local movies on local screens. Programming in Cameroonian theaters is controlled by European distributors. Cameroonian theater owners have nothing to do with film selection; they simply screen the films supplied to them year- round by the distributor. Theater owners keep a certain percentage of box-office earnings and send the rest back to the distributor. Programming African films-which are not part of the distributors’ package- involves reducing the screenings of pre-programmed films, cutting into distributors’ profits and introducing an African filmmaker into the financial equation.

Cameroonian theater owners are reluctant to create tension with European distributors on whom they depend so completely.


Nevertheless several film directors like Jean-Pierre Dikongue (Pipa après Muna Moto, 1975, Grand prix Fespaco 1976) enjoyed great success with the general public with Histoires droles, drôles de gens (1983) et Courte maladie (1987). Daniel Kamwa (Boubou cravate, 1972; Pousse-Pousse, 1975; Notre fille, 1980; le Cercle des pouvoirs, 1997), Jean-Marie Teno (De Ouaga à Douala en passant par Paris, 1987; Clando, 1996, Chef!, 1999), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Un Blanc pauvre?, 1991; Douala, Quartier Mozart, 1992; le Complot d’Aristote, 1997) et Bassek ba Kobhio (Sango Malo le maître du canton, 1991; le Grand Blanc de Lambaréné, 1994), Eloi Bela Ndzana’s Djamboula (1999), Francois Woukoache’s La Fumee dans le Yeux and Olivier Bile’s Otheo, l’Africain (1998) have earned themselves a place in the diverse African cinema. The most widely acclaimed female director is without a doubt Josepine Bertand. She directed several shorts and Fanta (2002) her first full feature movie. These movies are all produced in cooperation with foreign companies, most notably the French Government, sponsoring several films. The African Cinema Festival 2000 in Milan featured a special focus on Cameroonian cinema.


  • Carrefour Condom Gervais Djimeli Lekpa
  • Menteur Professionnel Charlotte Ngo Manyo
  • Lost Brother “Waka-waka man” Dezarroi
  • Bongfen Petra Sundjo
  • Abom Carine Ezembe
  • Couches toi et laisses moi faire Charlotte Ngo Manyo
  • Kam la guenon
  • Fleur dans le sang (La) 1966, Urbain Dia Mokouri
  • Un enfant Noir 1971, Alphonse Béni
  • Boubou cravate 1972, Daniel Kamwa
  • Muna Moto | Enfant de l’autre (L’) 1974, Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa
  • Pousse pousse 1975, Daniel Kamwa
  • Prix de la liberté (Le) 1978, Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa
  • Histoires drôles et drôles de gens 1983, Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa
  • Coopérants (Les) 1983, Arthur Si Bita
  • Trois petits cireurs (Les) Louis Balthazar Adangoleda
  • Badiaga 1987, Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa
  • Maléfice noir (Le) Jude Ntsimenkou
  • Dernier voyage (Le) 1990, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Tazibi 1990, Konham Augustine Kamani, Rosine Kenmoe Kenyou
  • Sango Malo 1991, Bassek Ba Kobhio
  • Mister Foot 1991, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Quartier Mozart 1992, Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama
  • Victime innocente (La) Honoré Noumabeu
  • Totor 1993, Daniel Kamwa
  • Clando 1996, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Complot d’Aristote (Le) Aristotle’s Plot 1996 , Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama
  • Femme et le secret (La) 1996, Bassek Ba Kobhio
  • Cercle des pouvoirs (Le) 1997, Daniel Kamwa, Jules Takam
  • Fumée dans les yeux (La) 1998, François Woukoache
  • Yaadou bee dabare (Marche avec intelligence) 1998, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Wada wasmita (Agir et regretter) 1998, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Fragments de vie 1999, François Woukoache
  • Khaddara 2001, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Public Order 2002, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Yarda 2002, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Niiyassou 2002, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Sey gedal (Le destin) 2003, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Play Boy 2003, Alain Fongue
  • Loving you 2004, Narcisse Mbarga
  • Findinéeki 2004, Bamdiram Bamba
  • Djomo la promise 2004, Jacques Noumi
  • Quête des points (La) 2004, Ben Green
  • Honneur des femmes (L’) 2004, Paul Kobhio
  • À l’ère du cellulaire 2004, Gervais Djimeli Lekpa
  • Meilleur et le pire (Le) 2004, Bassek Ba Kobhio
  • Alkawal 2004, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Cercle vicieux (Le) 2005, Serge Alain Noa
  • Aller Retour 2005, Lorenzo Mbiahou
  • Dieu devant la barre Daniel Ndo
  • Saignantes (Les) 2005, Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama
  • Oser ou s’exposer 2005, Gervais Djimeli Lekpa
  • Sex parlant (Le) Bernard Nagmo
  • Mal djamba (Le charlatan) 1/3 2005, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Mal djamba (Le charlatan) 2/3 2005, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Mal djamba (Le charlatan) 3/3 2005, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Enfant peau rouge (L’) 2006, Gérard Essomba
  • Préavis (Le) Honoré Noumabeu
  • Lettre (La) Honoré Noumabeu
  • Avare (L’) Honoré Noumabeu
  • Cadeau (Le) [Noumabeu] Honoré Noumabeu
  • Bana ba Nyué (Les orphelins) 2006, Toussaint Adrien Eyango
  • Bise (La) 2006, Honoré Noumabeu
  • Profil 2006, Gervais Djimeli Lekpa, Estheline Sandrine Fomat
  • Mon Ayon 2006, Blaise Nnomo Zanga
  • Confidences 2006, Cyrille Masso
  • Ultime Résolution 2006, Eloi Bela Ndzana
  • Déchirure (La) / Tear (The) 2006, Alphonse Béni
  • Rêve brisé (Le) Ghislain Fotso Chatue
  • Psikoz 2006, Thierry Ntamack
  • Double Set-Up 2007, Princess Manka Bridget
  • Silences du cœur (Les) 2007, Narcisse Mbarga
  • Paris à tout prix 2007, Joséphine Ndagnou
  • Une vie brisée 2007, Jude Ntsimenkou
  • Man of the Bottom Sentence criminelle 2007, Prince Dubois Onana
  • Don involontaire (Le) 2007, Serge Alain Noa
  • Blessures Inguérissables (Les) 2007, Hélène Ebah
  • Afidi 2007 Serge Alain Noa
  • Pont (Le) 2007, Ghislain Amougou
  • Donzy 2007, Isidore Modjo
  • Cicatrice (La) 2007, Léopold Magloire Yando
  • Syndrome d’oz (Le) 2007, Boudjeka Kamto
  • Taboo 2007, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Trials of passion 2007, Ferdinand Assaba
  • Path of love 2007, Ferdinand Assaba
  • Clandos 2007, Blaise Pascal Tanguy
  • Avez-vous vu Franklin Roosevelt? (Have you seen Franklin Roosevelt?) 2008, Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama
  • Ma Sâsâ (Mâh Saah-sah) 2008, Daniel Kamwa
  • Déchirure 2, parfait amour 2008, Alphonse Béni
  • Waramutseho! (Bonjour!) 2008, Bernard Auguste Kouemo Yanghu
  • Dans ma tête 2008, Ghislain Amougou
  • Match (The) 2008, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Mark of the absolute 2008, Ferdinand Assaba
  • Don Man 2008, Francis Kengne
  • Djannatou 2008, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Impulsions 2008, Blaise Pascal Tanguy
  • Oser ou s’exposer 2008, Blaise Pascal Tanguy
  • Innocent (L’) 2009, Carine Ezembe
  • Trafic d’enfants 2009, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Oreilles (Les) 2009, Gilbert Tio Babena
  • Cri de coeur (Le) 2009, Pierre Loti Simo
  • Dans l’ombre d’une autre Francine Kemegni
  • Extension 4 2009, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Je me marierai avec mon père 2009, Lionel Meta
  • Tcham (La) 2009, Julien Fouejeu
  • Pacte (Le) 2009, Emmanuel Bayemek
  • Djoondé Douniya 2009, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Bébé Joan 2009, Toussaint Adrien Eyango
  • Big woman don’t cry 2009, Françoise Ellong
  • Femme de mes rêves (La) 2010, Francis Kengne
  • Veillée de contes traditionnels 2010, Daniel Ndo
  • Fille, le serpent-boa et le serment (La) 2010, Daniel Ndo
  • Conséquences de la désobéissance (Les) 2010 Daniel Ndo,
  • Origine de la pauvreté (L’) 2010, Daniel Ndo
  • Malédiction du crapaud (La) 2010, Daniel Ndo
  • Tête de la tourterelle (La) 2010, Daniel Ndo
  • Gymnastics 2010, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Sangs Mêlés (Les) 2010, Pascaline Ntema
  • Noce de coton 2010, Gérard Désiré Nguélé Amougou
  • L’écriteau 2010, Yves Bertin Djime
  • Intrusion 2010, Yves Bertin Djime
  • Charitable 2010, Yves Bertin Djime
  • Not My Will 2010, Wegmuller Ikome
  • Soureyya 2010, Laminou Tilimdo
  • Tour de passe-passe 2010, Agnès Ndibi, Guy Foumane
  • Prière (La) 2010, Hyacinthe Nyong’o
  • Un Africain en hiver 2010, Clément Ndzana, Paulin Dadjeu
  • Au-delà de l’ambition 2010, Dovie Kendo
  • Rape (Viol) 2010, Joyce Naah
  • Sottise (La) 2010, Elise Kameni
  • Audacity of love 2011, Ferdinand Assaba
  • Cicatrice 2011, Marius Bonfeu
  • Robin du Web (Robin of the Web) 2011, Véronique Doumbe
  • Kongossa 2011, François Woukoache
  • Ainsi va la vie 2011, Christian Kengne, Aristide Youpi Meyong
  • Witch (La) 2011, Kelly Adams Ntep
  • Rendez-vous avec les morts 2011, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Veuves volontaires (Les) 2011, Alphonse Béni
  • Adieu 2011, Ange Nfonman
  • Correspondant (Le) 2011, Henri Fotso
  • Folies d’amour 2011, Anaclet Ngono Onana
  • Double face 2011, Rostand Wandja
  • Pension 2011, James Nyincho-Tum
  • Sur la route d’un ange 2011, Thierry Ntamack
  • Hiich 2011, Elise Kameni
  • 2ème bureau 2011, Dieudonné Nadi Nana
  • Président (Le) 2012, Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama


  • W.A.K.A. 2013, Françoise Ellong
  • Mes voisins chinois Georges Olivier Biyong
  • Que sais-tu faire Béranger Mendjengoue
  • Camfranglais (Le) Edwin Erkwen
  • Challenge Sidi Mohamed Abbas Armand Brice Tchikamen, Hervé Kouamo
  • Merveilleuse Marza Chantal Julie Nlend
  • Thérèse comment tu t’en sors? Astrid Atodji
  • Murs s’écroulent (Les) Chantal Julie Nlend
  • Canon Kpa Kum 1980, Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa
  • Music and Music: Super Concert 1981, Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa
  • Schubbah 1983, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Hommage 1985, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Engrenage 1988, Konham Augustine Kamani
  • Portrait d’une femme rurale 1988, Konham Augustine Kamani
  • FESTAC 88 1988, Bassek Ba Kobhio
  • Mont Cameroun et ses environs (Le) Gabriel Foki, Honoré Noumabeu
  • Pêcheurs et leurs communautés (Les) Gabriel Foki
  • Architecture traditionnelle Bonaventure Takoukam
  • Cadeau de Paix 1989, Konham Augustine Kamani
  • Un jour à la campagne 1989, Rosine Kenmoe Kenyou
  • Mélina 1991, François Woukoache
  • Contes du Cameroun 1991, Blandine Foumane
  • Grandes fêtes petits prix 1992, Rosine Kenmoe Kenyou
  • Tête dans les nuages (La) 1994, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Visa pour les USA 1994, Jean-Marie Mvondo
  • Asientos 1995, François Woukoache
  • Un oeil dans les ténèbres 1995, Dieudonné Cyrille Bitting
  • Retirement Life’s End? 1996, Florence Tan
  • Chef! 1999, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Vacances au pays 1999, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Héritiers du Malé Makom (Les) 1999, Eloi Bela Ndzana, Marco Ranocchi
  • Fantacoca 2001, Agnès Ndibi
  • Au prix du verre 2001, Cyrille Masso
  • Itilga (Les destinées) 2001, Osvalde Lewat, Cyrille Masso
  • Afrique, je te plumerai! 2002, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Mariage d’Alex (Le) 2002, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Un foyer au coeur de la forêt 2002, Eloi Bela Ndzana
  • 140, rue du bac 2002, Osvalde LEWAT
  • Une parole de danse 2003, Jean-Jacques Ondoa
  • Deuxième Classe 2003, Gérard Désiré Nguélé Amougou
  • Ma journée d’école 2003, Eloi Bela Ndzana
  • Au coeur d’une plante 2003, Eloi Bela Ndzana
  • Afrique noire à l’image 2004, Bitjoka Bondol Mbock
  • Destin… destinée? 2004, Arice Siapi
  • Silence [réalisé par Edimo Dikobo] 2004, Edimo Dikobo
  • Au-delà de la peine 2004, Osvalde Lewat
  • Footballeuses (Les) Honoré Noumabeu
  • Malentendu colonial (Le) 2004, Jean-Marie Teno
  • Reflections 2004, Florence Ayisi
  • Combat pour la vie 2004, Eloi Bela Ndzana
  • Bona, le sorcier de la basse 2004, Olivier Enogo
  • Un amour pendant la guerre 2005, Osvalde Lewat
  • Filières africaines de la prostitution (Les) 2005, Olivier Enogo, Romaric Atchourou
  • Waka man 2005, Gervais Djimeli Lekpa
  • My Mother: Isange 2005, Florence Ayisi
  • Mourir en donnant la vie Alain Fongue
  • We Are One 2005, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Manu Dibango et le Soul Makossa Gang 2006,
  • Moto clando (Clandos) 2006, Gervais Djimeli Lekpa
  • Logone le trésor en péril 2006, Bamdiram Bamba
  • Zanzibar Soccer Queens 2007, Florence Ayisi
  • Une affaire de nègres 2007, Osvalde Lewat
  • Bois des singes (Le) 2007, Osvalde Lewat
  • Alternative Rap 2007, Nganguem Kamdem
  • Living archive (The) 2007, Akan Ngweken, Margaret Fombe Fube
  • En quete d’esprits 2007, Olivier Enogo
  • Chemin de Bogo (Le) 2007, Hubert Atangana
  • Douala la belle Honoré Noumabeu Anisha 2007, Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni
  • Bilim Bi Jam 2007, Simon Bell
  • Jeanne d’Arc et que la roue 2008, Rosalie Mbélé Atangana
  • Encounter (The) 2008, Cyrille Masso
  • Riskou Le Partage de la Vache 2008, Arice Siapi
  • Blanchir une affaire pas très claire 2008, Olivier Enogo
  • Terre 2008, Florane Malam
  • Culte des crânes (Le) Francine Kemegni
  • Autopsie du cinéma africain 2008, Lambert Ndzana
  • Sawa 2009, Nganguem Kamdem
  • Tcheupte les chaînes de la tradition 2009, Hortense Nyamen
  • Elles s’appellent Majolie 2009, Gérard Désiré Nguélé Amougou
  • Autisme : derrière le rideau 2009, Olivier Enogo
  • African Snakes Tamer’s 2009, Olivier Enogo
  • Prostitution: mémoires d’une enquête 2009, Olivier Enogo
  • Comment toucher? 2009, Prudence Théophile Ngwe II
  • Cinéma de Charlie (Le) 2009, Simon Bell
  • D. (à Démolir) 2009, Mama Mbouobouo
  • Féroméo, au propre et au pluriel 2009, Florane Malam
  • Origines de la Françafrique (Les) 2010, Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama
  • Koundi et le Jeudi National (Koundi and the National Thursday) 2010, Astrid Atodji Juarké
  • Boys made men in Mboum society 2010, Mohamadou Saliou
  • Life 2010, Patrick Epape
  • Femmes artistes au Cameroun (Art of This Place Women Artists in Cameroon) 2010, Florence Ayisi
  • Maman Marthe 2010, Mama Mbouobouo
  • Miroir de mon âme 2011, Deza Nguembock
  • Une vie interdite 2011, Honoré Noumabeu
  • Banane (La) 2011, Franck Bieleu
  • Liste (La) 2011, Chantal Julie Nlend
  • Excision : une pratique, des vies brisées (L’) 2011, Françoise Baba
  • Tueur silencieux (Le) 2011, Blaise Pascal Tanguy
  • Atchuelah, la vénération des ancetres 2011 Francis Meli
  • Dos de la veuve (Le) 2011, Mary-Noël Niba
  • Sur les pas du père Soffo, le Prophète 2011, Elise Kameni
  • Poly-Amour 2012, Ken Ervy Patoudem
  • Rewbe Woila 2012, Viviane Tassi Bela
  • Chasseuses de l’aube (Les) 2012, Elise Kameni
  • Mboko ou l’enfant de la rue 2012, Blaise Pascal Tanguy


Television was brought into Cameroon by presidential decree on April 26, 1986 (order number 86/005), creating the National Television Office, designated as Cameroon Television.

The Prime Minister’s decree of April 3, 2000 (2000/158) paved the way to creating dozens of private audiovisual press corporations in Cameroon and opened the door for entities other than the State to hold their ownership. Nevertheless, it was not until seven years later, on August 30, 2007, that the government handed over the first official licenses to two private televisions, STV and Channel 2 International.

The editorial line of CRTV ordered all its personnel to carry out a positive analysis of the government’s actions and performances at an economic and political level, especially as regarded the reduction of poverty, good governance and the fight against corruption.

The journalists at CRTV who opposed this pro- governmental tendency were just forced to resign, as was the case of Charly Ndichia, who quit at the beginning of the nineties, following the banning of critical analysis. Other stubborn journalists – civil servants – were punished by being transferred to a Ministry with lower salaries! All non civil servant colleagues of theirs who tried to disobey were simply fired.

The work conditions at CRTV are decidedly better than those in the private sector. The starting salary of a journalist who has just got his degree at CRTV is of 300,000 FCFA (US $650) per month, while it is of only 150,000 FCFA at Spectrum Television (STV) and even as low as 50,00 FCFA at Equinoxe Radio&TV or Channel 2.

76% of the income of CRTV is made up by the audiovisual license fee collected from the taxpayers and corporations. The monthly sum depends on rank and salary amount, and is taken from employees’ salaries, figuring on the pay slip. Those employees who earn less than 62,000 FCFA (US $135) per month are exempt from this tax. In total, 75% of the country’s workers are subject to this tax. It is deducted by the Ministry of Finances and deposited in a special account for CRTV.

CRTV also benefits from indirect aids from foreign media such as BBC, Radio France International and Canal France International, who aid the African audiovisual sector by offering more than 2,500 hours of programming a year (films, documentaries, children’s shows and publicity messages in French, English and Portuguese).

CRTV’s annual working budget has dropped from near 28 billion FCFA (60 million US dollars) to 17 billion FCFA (37 million US dollars) in 2009. Obviously, there is not enough money to satisfy the needs of all the departments – administration, technical services, program production and purchases. M. Ekulole says that barely one percent of the budget is dedicated to producing programmes, while salaries and management allowances soak up near to 26%.


The former French colony of Ubangi-Shari became the Central African Republic upon independence in 1960. After three tumultuous decades of misrule mostly by military governments a civilian government was installed in 1993.


The Central African cinema holds a modest place in comparison with the other film producing African countries. The Central African director who is best known is Joseph Akouissonne, for his film zo kwe zo (Un homme est un Homme). Produced in 1982, it was the first of a series entitled “Africa; is it only twenty years old?” It recalls the history of his country, using mainly oral sources, since the establishment of the French station in Bangui by Alberl Dolisie up until independence.

The film represents a first attempt to describe an identity of Central Africans and their country. It won him a prizes at the Fespaco film festival In 1982, Akouissonne directed Les dieux noirs du stade. The first film of the scenario writer born in Bangassou in 1943, is a short film of 15 minutes, Josepha produced in 1974 and the first of a series featuring African woman in Europe. Victor Bissengué, another Central African scenario writer, co-produced. The latter being the driving force behind the introduction of the internet in Central Africa. In 1985 Léonie Yangba Zowe shot a series of ethnographic short films. In Lengue she filmed the the songs and tribal dances of the Yacoba and the Chari Sango ethnic groups. The first film to gain some international acclaim was Silence de la forêt by Didier Florent Ouenangare, he won a prize at the Film Festival of Amiens. It tells the story of a civil servant, in revolt against the institutions, leaving food in the bushes for the Pygmies, getting him in all kinds of trouble. Today the film industry in the Central African Republic is virtually non existent, hopes remain the young democratic government will start supporting local initatives.


  • Yangba-Bolo 1985 Léonie Yangba Zowe
  • Nzale 1985 Léonie Yangba Zowe
  • Lengue 1985 Léonie Yangba Zowe
  • Paroles de sages 1987 Léonie Yangba Zowe
  • Silence de la forêt (Le) 2003, Didier Ouenangaré, Bassek Ba Kobhio


The case of the audiovisual industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo is both tragic and humanely beautiful. It is hard to imagine that such an important television channel, created towards the end of the seventies, could have plummeted as it did. The general headquarters was housed in a beautiful 21 storey tower, built with the support of French Cooperation, and with small relay stations in every province of the country. National television had everything one could dream of as a TV channel: several modern studios, all the necessary technical equipment, a training center for the staff that also welcomed directors and technicians from the surrounding area. From the outside, it was a beautiful technical tool. But when one took a closer look… For example, there was a laboratory for reversal film. When one of the developer machine’s pieces needed to be changed, an order was sent to France, only to discover that it was a “prototype”. There were no replacements for the piece! The machine was never fixed, and the lab was abandoned to its fate.

Nowadays, the RTNC is one of the lousiest, most anarchist and bric-a-brac public televisions in SubSaharan Africa. The buildings themselves are in a state of ruin that is hard to describe: unhealthy, abandoned premises, obsolete and patched-up material, no electricity in certain parts of the building. There is absolutely nothing that could be considered acceptable. The enormous and fantastic tool is nothing but a carcass now. It is tragic!

However, despite all this, there are still people who try to make things work. There are shows, there are productions, there are broadcasts every day. There has been no quality at RDV for a long time (this statement is also valid for the television channels of other countries where there are economic means) and the standards are far below what they were once upon a time, but people make do with what there is. What a waste of energy! That same energy, used wisely, could create wonders.

Why the National Congolese Television as our focal point of interest? Because it could have been the pillar upon which to continue building. There was infrastructure, staff and economic means in the seventies. Imagine a small BBC in Africa. And yes, the English TV channel has more than sufficient economic means and unquestioned proficiency. Congo was the largest French-speaking country in the region and, at that time, had more than sufficient economic means to launch fiction and documentary films. Just so you have an idea of what I am referring to, the President at that time organised the Ali-Foreman fight for publicity reasons. Millions were swallowed by that publicity stunt.

We had an opportunity to impel a formidable tool that could have been developed with all the talent in the region. Instead of that, the political regime took over the television and turned it into a propaganda tool blaring its glory. Any dictatorship is always fearful of the development of a critical mind. It will do anything to avoid there being multiple sources of information, it will progressively destroy any signs of additional education and asphyxiate society.

First there was the mental death. Those people who wanted films were worn out and discouraged. Filmmaker Roger Kwami Mambu Zinga is one of the few to receive an education at a film school (IAD Belgium) and decided to remain working in the country. He never managed to get a project going with the State’s support. It was foreign coproductions that allowed him to make the documentaries he did make. And that only happened after years of struggle. The feature film project that he tried to make for twenty years never saw fruition.

Congo did not have (and still does not have) a state organism that finances cinema. There was a production department at the television, and Roger Kwami was its director. In reality, directors were not allowed to express themselves and were not provided with any suitable means to work with. The people in power did not have the mentality to make films, nor did they really want to. It was something they did not really understand. Their fear of the press (who had to be gagged) made them paranoid about everything that concerned the audiovisual world. For dozens of years, whenever a film crew came to Kinshasa, even if just to film a simple report, they had to brave high waters to get a filming permit. Even when the permit was granted, there was still the military, who could not care less about any piece of paper, to deal with on the streets. This applied to foreigners, and also to local filmmakers. In an atmosphere like this, how could anyone even imagine the birth of documentary films? Even taking pictures was forbidden.

The situation started to change for the better about 7 or 8 years ago. The decree that banned taking pictures/ filming, published during Mobutu’s dictatorship, was withdrawn. Things are not as yet perfect, but it works. Mentally, the country has still not recovered.

Then, there was economic death. There is no film institution in Congo besides the film department of national television. This department has no known budget, no support mechanism and there have been no film projects financed by the State. The financing problem of OZRT (Zairian Office of Radio broadcasting and Television) has been there since its beginnings. How to create an organism capable of financing itself? A solution was never found. The confinement of Zaire in those years and other parameters imposed by the dictatorship, was at the root of its stranglehold. There was no audiovisual economic fabric coming from touristic film as happened in Kenya or Zimbabwe. There was no commerce with the outside, therefore no possibility of creating any resources around publicity.

Finally, there came the physical death. During 25 years, no feature film was shot in Congo! The few documentaries that were filmed between the 1980s- 2000, were the product of the personal efforts of filmmakers passionately in love with the country. Over a 25 year period, this is one of the lowest ratios in Africa.

At the beginning of the nineties, a breath of fresh air ran through the country. Private television entered the audiovisual sector. The few competent human resources remaining at National TV scattered to the various new TV channels. The quality of public television fell even more. At the private channels it was not any better because the few talented people that there were, were surrounded by untrained or badly trained people.


Je suis dans l’évènementiel. Je produis des vidéos, du cinéma et des musiciens. Je tiens à label de production et c’est aussi un groupe de média citoyen (radio, site internet).

Au niveau local on produit une bonne dizaine. J’ai participé à « Blood in the mobile » comme coproducteur et Hunting Shadow. Nous sommes dans une zone de conflit et donc nos productions sont souvent liées à l’actualité.

Nos productions sont souvent du « quartier ». Pas d’école de cinéma, pas d’institution, on a rien et on fait tout sur le tas. On a pas de financement venant de l’étranger parce qu’on a pas les ressources humaines pour faire les dossiers. Comme il y a beaucoup d’ONG on exécute plutôt des commandes.


The official opening ceremony of the 4th annual Salaam Kivu International Film festival took place on Oct 17, 2009 in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The room was full on the Saturday evening and the festival was dedicated to the memory of Daniel Kambere, who was considered Yolé! Africa’s greatest mentor, who passed on October 8, 2009.

SKIFF is a 10-day festival that includes projections of films, contemporary and hip hop dance workshops, film and screenwriting workshops, and artisitic performances. It is Congo’s only international film festival and brings together activists for peace from across Africa, Europe, and America.

The opening ceremony included the recognition of Justine Masika Bihamba who won the 2009 Pax Christi Peace Award and the 2009 Human Rights Defender Tulip Award. Y!Dance performed a 30 minute contemporary dance performance choreographed by Sekombi Katondolo which shocked the crowd with its originiality and talent. The film projections of the evening include Mbasa by Modogo, a Congolese filmmaker, and Blind Date by Cyril Dicotte. Twenty-three youth hip hop groups from Goma danced off to inaugurate the pre-Salaam Kivu International Film Festival (SKIFF) events. All the groups practiced for months before this big day in hopes that they would be one of the seven groups chosen to participate in the SKIFF 2009 dance competition set for October 25th.

More than 250 dancers attended the event that was judged by two international professional dancers and two Congolese dancers. The seven groups will dance off again on SKIFF’s hip-hop day which last year attracted more than a thousand people. The winning group will have the chance to travel to Kinshasa to participate in a national competition.

The runner-up will dance in 10 locations across North Kivu province in areas that have been severely affected by the war. The youth of Goma are ready to show their talent and are ready for peace!


produced by Djo Munga & Steven Markovitz

This project came into fruition after a long process (near 6 years) and did not arrive at its definitive form immediately. The fact that there was no film school, no film institutions, that there was a scarcity of everything… To try and respond individually to the demands of young people hoping to make films would be too exhausting and, what is more, pretty useless.

The first reflection had to concern how to provide people with a film language in a minimum period of time and with very few means. The memory of a technical editing exercise that we used to do at the film school where I studied, prompted me to approach the INSAS and ask them if it would be possible to adapt this context to Congo. We associated and set up a 7 week training program during which 15 students, selected after passing an entrance exam, learned the basics of film language. Just to give you an idea on the bareness of Kinshasa, 5 or 6 years ago, there was not a single book on screenwriting in this city of 8 million inhabitants.

Subsequently, I realized that 7 weeks was not enough time to acquire the basics, no matter how simple, of cinema.

When they finished the training program, I took the seven best students and enrolled them in a nine month workshop in our production office. This lengthy workshop was designed to allow them time to deepen their knowledge through reading, seeing films (lots of films), analyzing them, doing practical exercises and participating in the occasional workshop with other professionals.

During their stint, the students made two short documentaries. The first, in the city of Kinshasa, in the capital, where our production office is located. This first film allowed them to work in an environment they knew, and to tell a story that was close to their hearts.

The second film had to be shot in a province far from the capital (and that did not coincide with the filmmaker’s province of origin). Here the game plan was inverted. The idea was to step out of oneself, and enter into unknown country to find the “others”.

The students did everything themselves: found the story, filmed it and edited it. The teachers were present solely to supervise, offer assistance with working methods and accompany the students on their reflection on film language.

When the workshop was finished, we had films that were practical exercises in direction, and that, in the end, were true films. The four short films were sent to South Africa for polishing (to tailor the editing). Steven Markowitz sent the films in to the Berlin Film Festival in a package of four short films. Taken together as a whole, they were a contemporary portrait of the country in its different facets: Congo in Four Acts.

The film was selected for the Berlinale. In the 60 years of the festival, a Congolese film had never been selected for the German film festival. It was a great success. From there, the film went on to more than 40 film festivals around the world, garnering numerous prizes. This opus took the film industry by surprise and renewed the general vision of Congo.

What was so special about the approach to ‘Congo in Four Acts’?

To start with, there was a true reflection on “poor

people’s” cinema. How does one shoot quality with very few means? You need time. And time is not expensive in Congo. With time, the students were able to find their stories and make them their own.

The next move was a film approach in the most classic sense. The learning process was not steered towards Africanism or any national discourse. The students focused on cinema as such, on the stories, on the filmmakers that they admired. As they told the stories themselves, each in its own particular context, with their sensibilities, the African identity seeped through on its own. I believe that what really seduced people in Congo, and abroad as well, was the uninhibitedness of the standpoint. We were seeing reality without having to project anything else to explain it. Reality was present in its most natural expression.

For the permanence of training

What this experience showed us is that if you teach with the right accompaniment, results can be obtained (and rather quickly).

Training (teaching) needs to be a permanent feature. ‘Congo in Four Acts’ was a fantastic, and happy, experience. But we need to set up a permanent training program if we want quality documentaries to continue being a fact in this country. Permanence would not only translate into films, but into a breeding ground for filmmakers and technicians, who could, slowly and progressively, increase the number of productions in the country. And also participate in the construction of film institutions.

The film school that came into being in Kinshasa with the name ‘Kinshasa Action Workshops’ will form part of a larger project, which will be the Institute of Arts. Films cannot exist without the work in parallel of the actors. In the same manner, if you wish to aspire to a quality aesthetic creation, you need to have a solid basis in Plastic Arts.

The future Institute of Arts will have three departments: Cinema – Dramatic Arts – Plastic Arts.

For obvious reasons (economy, standpoint, modernity of the language), documentaries should be at the heart of the training programmes, of the transmission and development of films. Ethics is also a vital stake. Filming has never been easier than nowadays, but the way of showing what we film, and the issues linked to those stories we tell, must be the keys to a new film language. There must be expectations to be met, investigation, a sturdy and respectful connection to the filmed subject.

And the ease of new technologies does not flow in that direction. Filming is available to anyone, but developing a language as we film is only available to those who work on the aesthetics, the ethics and the thought, all simultaneously. The project ‘Congo in Four Acts’ is a building stone for a new documentary language in Congo. Permanent training will work on a lasting renewal of film language and the development of an in- depth knowledge of contemporary and classic cinemas of the world.


The beginning of the nineties was marked by the coming of a multi-party regime. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the dictatorship found itself constrained to take the road to freedom of expression. A decision that translated into a law allowing the creation of a private television. At the beginning, there were two private channels. Year after year, this number grew until the day came for the first elections in the country, and the number of televisions soared. Each politician wanted to have his own channel to have his own soapbox. We counted up to 50 television channels just in Kinshasa. Some of them closed after the elections, but most of them continued.

There is no audiovisual policy, the sector has no regulations. There is no film institution besides National Television. But there has never been as many images in the country. There is always someone filming somewhere: soap operas, video clips, commercials, religious broadcasts, filmed theater. Anything that you can imagine on film… and more.

And what is going on with documentaries in all this? We often see people trying to assert themselves by working on real life in television reports. These attempts at documentaries are of very poor quality. It is pure amateurism, but the approach is sincere. What they are lacking is an education. There is nowhere where they can obtain a suitable formation. The RTNC (National Television) organises training modules in its training center, but it is not enough by half. What is more, the contents are obsolete. So, everyone does the best they can to learn this business anyway they can. From time to time, an Embassy organises a film workshop, or an NGO arranges an activity centering on journalism, and they discuss documentaries, but, basically, people depend on themselves and do the best they can with what they have picked up.

People move, search, try… There is an inordinate amount of energy flowing in every sense that pushes people to doing things. There are no professional results and it is frustrating. The only documentary images filmed recently were shot by foreign productions. From Staff Benda Bilili to the Symphony of Kinshasa, documentaries in Congo are filmed by foreign directors. The project Congo in Four Acts had an exceptional film festival life, but it is still an exception. In the same manner that director Petna Ndaliko Katondolo, based in Goma (East of Congo), organiser of the Skiff Festival and documentary maker in the country, is an UFO in the audiovisual space of Congo.

What is also fascinating, is that Congolese directors based in other countries have filmed very few documentaries in Congo. However, what they have filmed is very interesting for different reasons, even though they are always singular works, isolated in time.

Tango ya ba Wendo (Wendo, Father of the Zairian Rumba) 1993, Mirko Popovitch, Roger KWAMI Mambu Zinga

A film on the essence of Congolese popular music. A great urban film about Kinshasa at the beginning of the nineties.

Roi, la Vache et le Bananier (Le) (The King, the Cow and the Banana Tree) 1994, Mweze Dieudonné Ngagura

A true village film…funny, alive, with a true look at traditions. It is perhaps the best film by Mweze Ngangura. However, it was considered to be a part of a lesser genre. Mweze is only known for his fictional work, while this is perhaps his most personal work.

Entre la coupe et l’élection (Between the Cup and the Election) 2007, Monique Phoba Mbeka, Guy Kabeya Muya

A film made with young people about one of the rare legends of Zaire: the soccer team of 1974 that made it to the World Cup. The film has unexpected dimensions with striking revelations on contemporary Congo. It speaks of History, but it mostly tells about today.

Kinshasa Palace 2006, Zeka Laplaine

One of the rare personal films in the history of Congolese filmmakers. No one says “I”. Here is a documentary where they speak of self, of memory, of tracks. It is beautiful.

It is too bad there are not more films in this grouping. That would surely have changed the perception of the country in the world, but especially of the country as regards itself. The absence of an image of self is a true problem.


The Jihan el-Tahri case

Among those films that have marked Africa and that have left an indelible mark on cinema are two by this Egyptian filmmaker and they both take place in Congo.

The first is L’Afrique en morceau – La tragedie des grands lacs (2002). This film could probably be considered incomplete, because in the incredible algorithm of hidden information and the immensely complex situation of the Great Lakes, one of the protagonists refused to speak. And it is a pity, but that is also the beauty of the film as we view the tragedies that take place in the region. The stroke of genius resides in the art of telling the story, and how the stories intermingle, answer each other, unravel and have a life of their own.

It is a contemporary story. This did not take place 100 years ago, these are not just some obscure images that automatically recall the charm and romanticism of a time long past. The protagonists are the presidents of the Republic. Imagine making a film with Kennedy, Castro and Khrushchev during the crisis of the Bay of the Pigs.

The second film is Cuba, an African Odyssey. The film is not exclusively about Congo, but a large part of it speaks about this country. But, how could any country spoken of in the film not take possession of it? It speaks to something still poignant in our memories. I believe the sense of excitement, the thirst for truth, the sensation of a meeting point between intimacy and History with a capital “H” has never been as strong. And that is where the magic resides: History remains a very intimate story. With those wounds that never heal, the echo of the youth of these nations as they use hope to confront the swords of war. What makes this film even more unique is that it is the first of its kind in Congo (and probably in Africa), and it has been made by an African. It is a masterwork from the beginning of a new century. But, above all, between the post-colonial generation and the current generation. It is a sticking point where sensitivities are at their highest, and dreams and dashed hopes all become one for Africans.

When we were Kings

The legendary boxing match, filmed in a legendary country (Heart of Darkness), and all backed by a tragic thriller. This film is exceptional in every sense. It is rare to be capable of capturing a dictatorship so precisely, even if just for a moment. And Muhammad Ali, a living legend, reaches a new dimension. Despite everything that surrounds and is present in this film, it still reflects the reality of Congo.

I could also speak of Lumumba: Death of a Prophet by Raoul Peck.



Since 1997 the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC; formerly called Zaire) has been racked by ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow in 1994 of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. The government of former president Mobutu Sese Seko was toppled by a rebellion led by Laurent Kabila in May 1997 and his regime was subsequently challenged by a Rwandan and Uganda-backed rebellion in August 1998. Troops from Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad, and Sudan intervened to support the Kinshasa regime. A cease-fire was signed on 10 July 1999 by the DROC, Zimbabwe, Angola, Uganda, Namibia, Rwanda, and Congolese armed rebel groups RCD-G and MLC, but sporadic fighting continued. Kabila was assassinated on January 16, 2001 and his son Joseph Kabila was named head of state on January 26, 2001. Despite taking a radically different approach than his father, the new president has been equally unsuccessful in ending the war.


The Democratic Republic of Congo was formely known as Zaire and before that as Belgian Congo. In most aspects of social life, Colonialism had a major impact on the cinematic development. Patrice Lumumba the national leader during the years of independence (1960) referred in his independence speech to this impact by stating that the locals (blacks) were not allowed to view foreign films during the period of Belgian ruling at all. The official reason was that the locals could not distinguish between fact and fiction and therefore film could lead to mental problems. The government was afraid for subversive behavior as a result of watching Western made movies. However, irony had its funny way here, it was the colonial government who introduced production of filmmaking in Congo by establishing a priest-led film school.

In the 1940s the colonial government’s Film and Photo Bureau made educational and propaganda films specifically for the African population. In order to reduce costs the bureau employed African workers who were taught the basics of film production. In addition, Africans could acquire cinematic skills at the Congolese Center for Catholic Action Cinema (CCCAC) in Léopoldville (present-day Kinshasa) or Africa Films in Kivu, both of which were run by Catholic priests. The two companies’ films-such as the CCCAC’s series Les Palabres de Mboloko, starring an animated antelope aimed to teach African audiences religious virtues. Both companies offered Africans an opportunity to learn cinematic techniques, but, as in the other colonial experiments, the content and format of the films produced by these groups were severely restricted by the colonial administration.

In 1950, George Fannoy established Belgavox, a production company residing in Brussels that made documentaries and news items in Congo. Not until 1987 was the first Congolese movie produced: La Vie est Belle by Mwenze Ngangura. He is without doubt the most appreciated Congolese director who made his debut in 1973 with a short called Tamtam électronique, but a constant state of civil warfare has led to the total demise of any film industry in Congo. Some directors have been able to produce and direct films with foreign support. Most noteworthy is the French Ministry of foreign affairs financing several filmmakers from Congo (Zaire). Kibushi N’djate Wooto is one of those directors. He produced the animated short Crapaud chez ses beaux- parents in 1992. In 1996 Jose Laplaine’s produced a lively, comic drama, Macadam Tribe showing the constant quest for money, status and sex within the families of Africa’s urban neighborhoods. Josef Kumbela made his debut in 1994 with his short Perle Poire, followed by several other short films (35 mm). In 1991 Raoul Peck, a Haitian, who had spent most of his childhood in Zaire, directed the documentary Lumumba: la mort d’un prophète (1991), about the life of this remarkable statesman. Likewise a Belgian director, Thierry Michel made a documentary of some acclaim in 1999 about the life of Mobutu, the former Zaire dictator. Other names appeared in 2000 Munga Tunda Djo with Auguy (2000); and Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda with Article 15 bis (2000).



The only Zairian channel, dubbed OZRT (Zairian Office of Radio Broadcasts and Television), came into being in 1976. It held the monopoly of television until the democratic process started in April of 1990, and that gave way to the proliferation of private television channels, starting with Antenne A that was the first to break the OZRT’s monopoly in 1993. The law of media liberalization, approved by the Transitional Parliament on June 22, 1996, confirmed this state of affairs and allowed numerous commercial and private denominational channels to hatch throughout the country.

When Laurent-Désiré Kabila and the ADFL arrived to power in 1997, the country was renamed as was the television channel, it became RTNC (National Congolese Radio-Television) on May 17, then RTNC1 in March of 1999, and after that, a second public television was created, RTNC2.

To face the competition of the private channels, the authorities promptly reequipped the RTNC technically – nothing had been touched since its creation in 1976, thanks to a program that extended all over the country. They also signed an agreement with France for the professional formation of journalists and technicians, guaranteed by the ICA (Congolese Audiovisual Institute), a filial of RTNC.

RTNC1’s broadcasts in all the main towns in the country, interrupted for technical reasons at the beginning of 2004, resumed in November of that same year after the Italian corporation Teleconsult signed a backing agreement with RTNC.

The Media High Authority (HAM) extended preferential treatment towards RTNC1 as regards the presidential candidate Joseph Kabila during the presidential ballot, and suspended the channel’s coverage of that presidential campaign for 72 hours. The decision of the HAM was supported by Law 06/006 of March 9, 2006, as regards the organisation of presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, town and local elections that does not authorize anyone, be they a public authority, a promoter or a media sponsor, the right to abuse, in any form, by ignoring the principal of equality between all candidates.

RTNC1 is a public television channel owned 100% by National Congolese Radio-Television, a public corporation of radio broadcasts and television pertaining to the Congolese State.


As the sole public television with national coverage, RTNC1 broadcasts its programmes in the country’s five languages. However, its production capacity is limited, mostly due to the obsolescence of its production and broadcasting equipment.

Political information occupies a large space in its programming, particularly due to the current context of political transition, and the strong demand made by the population for these kind of broadcast-debates.

As RTNC is an associate of Canal France International, part of RTNC1’s programming proceeds from the CFI’s program bank.

It broadcasts all over the Congolese territory thanks to the installation of provincial relay stations in each of the country’s provinces:

  • Katanga Province: RTNC Lubumbashi
  • Western Kasaï Province: created in 1966
  • Eastern Province: RTNC Kisangani created in 1975
  • Eastern Kasaï Province: RTNC Mbuji-Mayi created in 1994
  • Bas-Congo Province: created in 2002


  • Gaza (Le) L’Excision 1979, Katuku Wa Yamba
  • Personnages mystiques de Mukanda (Les) 1979, Katuku Wa Yamba
  • Chéri Samba 1980, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Kin Kiesse 1982, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Dix mille ans de cinéma 1991, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Thomas Sankara, l’espoir assassiné 1991, Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda
  • Revue en vrac 1991, Monique Phoba Mbeka, Fred Mongu
  • Tango ya ba Wendo (Wendo, père de la rumba za- ïroise) 1993, Mirko Popovitch, Roger Kwami Mambu Zinga
  • Roi, la Vache et le Bananier (Le) 1994, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Walé Chantal, femme Ekonda 1996, Hélène Pagezy
  • Général Tombeur (Le) 1997, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Un rêve d’indépendance 1998, Monique Phoba Mbeka
  • Balangwa Nzembo (L’ivresse de la musique congo- laise) 1999, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Bongo libre 1999, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Colonisation, décolonisation, postcolonialisme 2001, Elikia M’Bokolo
  • Au nom de mon père 2001, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Afro@digital 2002, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Survie : les enfants des rues de Lubumbashi 2003, Patrick Kambala, Josue Mwamabha
  • Injuste Faim 2004, Djo Munga
  • Kinshasa, ville de mon enfance 2004, Adamo Kiangebeni
  • Barua Lako 2004, Sperantia Sikuli, Sekombi Katondolo
  • Mayasi, taximan à Kinshasa 2004, Guy Bomanyama-Zandu
  • Mémoire du Congo en péril (La) 2005, Guy Bomanyama Zandu
  • Goma, capitale du cinéma? 2005, Petna Ndaliko Katondolo
  • Horizon en transition 2005, Djo Munga
  • A Shadow of Hope 2005, Makela Pululu Luyeye, Makela Luyeye Pululu
  • Congo, quel cinéma! (Le) 2005, Guy Bomanyama-Zandu
  • Eau pure, eau pire 2006, Georges Kabongo
  • La Francophonie en D.Congo 2006, Olivier Kifoyi
  • Les deux orphélins (Kinshasa vie en deux temps) 2007, Olivier Kifoyi
  • Mal nommer les .. (Faustin Linyekula) 2007, Benjamin Bibas
  • Malachite, c’est ma vie 2007, Aurélien Mukangwa
  • Marché de la mort (Le) 2007, Chouna Mangondo
  • Entre la coupe et l’élection 2007, Monique Phoba Mbeka Guy Kabeya Muya
  • J’ai besoin d’être en famille 2007, Astrid Mukangwa
  • Fils de la vie et de la mort (Les) 2007, Clarisse Muvuba
  • Découverte des chutes de Lubudi 2007, Isaac Gérard Bakajika
  • Cailloux 2007, Guy Kabeya Muya
  • Caravane pour le Sankuru 2007, Jean-Michel Kibushi
  • Artiste de la poubelle (L’) 2007, Didier Lissa
  • Avenir dure longtemps (L’) 2007, Eric Nyindu
  • Nature, mon amour audacieux (La) 2007, Joa Shamukeke
  • Vieillesse notre avenir 2007, Frank Mweze
  • Voiture en Carton (Cardboard Car) 2008, Kiripi Katembo Siku
  • Nous, enfants parents 2008, Chouna Mangondo
  • Pêche artisanale (La) 2008, Mamadi Indoka
  • Petite Maria 2008, Louis Vogt Voka
  • Rallye d’Hélène (Le) 2008, Chouna Mangondo
  • Paroles Blanches, Paroles Noires 2008, Benjamin Nsimba Munzambi
  • Maraîchère de nuit (La) 2008, Michée Sunzu










  • M’Kataba 2008, Petna Ndaliko Katondolo
  • Impasse congolaise : Dieu ou l’homme? (L’) 2008, Milau Lutumba
  • Ecrivaine dans sa vie (L’) 2008, Clarisse Muvuba
  • Ainsi dit la Keluka 2008, Georges Kabongo
  • Bunkeya 2008, Carlos Ngombe
  • Shégués, les enfants de la jungle urbaine 2008, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Shrinking Press 2009, Patrick Ken Kalala
  • Mères-chefs 2009, Claudia Haïdara Yoka
  • Papa Bouna 2009, Arsène Kamango
  • Malgré moi 2009, Jules Koyagile Nzokoli
  • Kusoma-Lire 2009, Didier Lissa
  • Après Mine (L’) | After the Mine 2009, Kiripi Katembo Siku
  • Dames en attente (Ladies in Waiting) 2009, Dieudo Hamadi, Divita Wa Lusala
  • Symphony Kinshasa 2009, Kiripi Katembo Siku
  • Tu n’as rien vu à Kinshasa 2009, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • State of Mind 2010, Djo Munga
  • Eau va à la rivière (L’) 2010, Adamo Kiangebeni
  • Congo in Four Acts 2010, Dieudo Hamadi, Divita Wa Lusala, Patrick Ken Kalala, Kiripi Katembo Siku
  • Bushi, l’épopée de la résistance 2012, Sylvain Mitima
  • Moseka 1971, Roger Kwami Mambu Zinga
  • Chapelle (La) 1979, Jean-Michel Tchissoukou
  • Vie est belle (La) 1987, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura, Benoît Lamy
  • Taxcarte 1996, Joseph Kumbela
  • Macadam Tribu 1996, Zeka Laplaine
  • Clandestin (Le) 1996, Zeka Laplaine
  • Colis postal 1996, Joseph Kumbela
  • Damier (Le) 1996, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Etranger venu d’Afrique (L’) 1998, Feizhou Laowai, Joseph Kumbela
  • Auguy 1998, Djo Tunda wa Munga
  • Pièces d’identité 1998, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Watt 1999, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Article 15 bis 2000, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • (Paris : xy) 2001, Zeka Laplaine
  • Habits neufs du gouverneur (Les) 2004, Mweze Dieudonné Ngangura
  • Ha! 2005, Petna Ndaliko Katondolo
  • Juju Factory 2005, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Une nuit d’enfer 2005, Mamadi Indoka
  • Vertu (La) 2005, Guy Bomanyama-Zandu
  • Beauté de la mort (La) 2006, Mamadi Indoka
  • Kinshasa Palace 2006, Zeka Laplaine
  • 32 ans après 2007, Mamadi Indoka
  • Kinshasa vie en deux temps 2007, Olivier Kifoyi
  • Marc 2007, Béatrice Badibanga
  • Papy (mon histoire) 2007, Djo Tunda wa Munga
  • Kinois (Le) 2008, Michel Kamuanga
  • Lula 2008, Ladi Bidinga Mpoyi
  • Kata m’domo 2009, Claude Mukendi
  • Sors-le 2009, Arnaud Tshilumba, Rudy Kafutshi
  • Quelle Ironie 2009, Nolda Massamba
  • Nous aussi avons marché sur la lune 2009, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
  • Héritage envahi (L’) 2010, Mamadi Indoka
  • Sida (Le) 2010, Mamadi Indoka
  • Viva Riva 2010, Djo Tunda wa Munga
  • Condamné 2012, Nganji


For more than ten years, there was no movie theater in Equatorial Guinea…

Film buffs of the Seventh Art have had to wait until May 1st to be able to go to a movie theater in Malabo, where the Rial Cinema has opened in the residential quarter of Buena Esperanza, not far from the city of Sipopo.

It had been a bit over ten years since there was a movie theater in Equatorial Guinea, ever since the Ivoire Cinema, on Rey Malabo street, closed down and was converted into a church; and the Mar Cinema, now in ruins in the Ela Nguema neighborhood, disappeared. The youngest sector of the population does not know what a cinema is.

The inaugural ceremony was held in the presence of the Governor of North Bioko Province, Baltasar Nseng Mesian, as well as numerous artists (Mixes Choir of Malabo, Pina Bessosa, Abong Mang de Paraíso, Elenita, Manu de Mirey, Éroes de Bonda).

With this movie theater, the public in the capital now has access to 300 hundred square meters (2,000 square feet), perfectly furnished and air-conditioned, distributed on two floors and with a seating capacity for 280. They will screen two films every day, including weekends, with an entrance fee of 5,000 F Cfa on weekdays and 10,000 F Cfa (15-16 euros) on weekends.

Some people remember that, in the nineties, a movie ticket for the Ivoire and Mar movie theaters was of only 1,000 F Cfa, sometimes even as low as 500 FCfa, and that allowed the whole family to come. With a ticket nowadays costing between 5,000 and 10,000 F Cfa, that is completely unviable. No one’s income or salary can afford such an expenditure, and many find regrettable that films should be only for the rich.

On his side, the director of the Rial Cinema, Hermegildo Biong Mabale, has voiced his wish that this new place of leisure be occupied by young people in Equatorial Guinea, thereby contributing to diminishing delinquency and alcoholism among young people in the capital. (Source:


by Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono

Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono is the director of the National Library. The daughter of a diplomat and educated in Spain, Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono is in charge of Cultural Affairs in the Equatorial – Guinean Government. She has just published her third novel.

She is only 28 years old, but she already has a full and prestigious career. Named director of the National Library in 2009 – then still being created, it was inaugurated in June of that same year – she was promoted just a few months later to Secretary of State for Libraries, Archives, Museums and Cinemas. Summing it up, Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono heads all cultural affairs. A job for which she has considerable assets: to begin with, her youth, which should make her more sensitive to all forms of artistic and cultural creation; and next, her awareness of what is happening in the world.

Born in Evinyaong, the administrative center of the Centro-Sur province, in the continental part of the country, she is the daughter of diplomat Luis Mba Ndong Andeme and has lived in Spain since she was six years of age. That is where she studied, landing a degree in Law and another one in Political Sciences at the Autonomous University of Madrid, as well as later getting a third degree in Sociology (by correspondence) when she returned to Equatorial Guinea.


Another of her assets is her penchant for writing. Charismatic Guillermina Mekuy is a writer of novels. And she has already published three books in Spain, showing a partiality for the subject of women and the oppressions they are often the victims of. The first one, “El llanto de la perra” (The Cry of the Dog), was published when she was only 21 years old. The last one, “Tres almas para un corazón” (Three Souls for a Heart), is fresh off the press about polygamy, a sensitive subject, it has already caused quite a stir.

The appointment of a writer to the post of Secretary of State is a chance that should not be wasted in a country where books are practically rare objects. A fact that Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono intends to change by favoring the promotion of libraries and reading. Her project to create a publishing house is part of this plan.

However, this young woman is also passionate about cinema. She hopes to create a National Film School and has co-organised, alongside the Spanish Cultural Center in Malabo, the African Film Festival in Equatorial Guinea, now celebrating its second edition. She is also the author of the screenplay of the medium length film, Teresa, adapted from a true story and produced by the National Library.


Very attached to the cultural patrimony and the history of her country, she has thrown herself into the project of creating a digital archive body. Last February, she signed an agreement project with the Spanish Sub- Secretary of Culture, Mercedes de Palacio Tascón, that will permit the National Library of Equatorial Guinea to receive digital reproductions of those documents with a common history between the two countries, and kept in the public Spanish archives. This determination to revitalize Equatorial Guinea’s history is accompanied by a wish to breathe new life into cultural identity, on the downslide, especially in the big cities. That is why she places the accent on returning to the “origins”, promoting dance and traditional music companies, such as the Ceiba National Ballet that participated in the World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar in December of 2010. Under her leadership, culture should take on a new energy. A symbol of these new dynamics that the authorities wish to promote is the reopening, scheduled for June in Malabo, of the Equatorial-Guinean Cultural Center, after having been completely refurbished and equipped with the latest apparatus.

Extracted from articles on : Guinée équatoriale: sur le devant de la scène | Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono, une femme de tête | le premier site d’information et d’actualité sur l’Afrique



Composed of a mainland portion and five inhabited islands, Equatorial Guinea, which gained independence in 1968 after 190 years of Spanish rule, has been ruled by President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo since he seized power in a coup in 1979. Although nominally a constitutional democracy since 1991, the 1996 presidential and 1999 legislative elections were widely seen as being flawed.


The film industry in Equatorial Guinea is practically non-existent at the moment. No recent filmmakers of international repute have come from the country so far. Although the country houses a few cinemas, the only news worth mentioning is an assassination in the surroundings of a cinema. Another film related piece of information considered Rafael Ekiri Obama, a local who visited Germany and bought some screening equipment. He apparently vanished while he was setting up his projector in an old cinema building. Equatorial Guinea is multi-lingual, Spanish, French, English and some African languages. Being impoverished and in a constant state of military restlessness, developing a cinema to preserve and maintain cultural heritage has thus far not been possible.



He studied cinema at the IAD (Institute of Media Arts Belgium) in 1978. In 2000, he made a 26’ documentary, La Pierre de Mbigou, shot on digital Betacam with an approximate budget of 50,000. It took him 5 years to get the money together. He received the support of the IGIS (former CENACI – National Center for Cinema), the ACCT, the French Embassy and French Cooperation. After having worked for more than 30 years, during which he participated in most of his country’s productions, his report is razor sharp:

Television, which should have been a driving force for the development of the audiovisual sector in general, did not turn out as expected. It was primarily used as a propaganda tool for dozens of years. All it produced was news, with no interest in investing in documentaries or any other mode of audiovisual narration. Today, it consumes programmes without buying them.

It is surprising to note that Gabon, one of the few countries in the area that actually has a film production budget as of the eighties, has not advanced further. It is also probably the only country that has invested in international co-productions: The Great White of Lambarene (Bassek Ba Khobio – Cameroon), The Draughtsmen Clash (Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda – DR Congo). To sustain a continuous and growing development, taxes are needed, as well as an independent financing system that would allow the industry to grow and establish itself. As soon as one has a sympathetic ear at the Ministry of Finances, the production budget is larger. As soon as that person quits his position, everything falls into the cracks. There is no political opening.

There is no training school as regards the audiovisual professions.

In this manner, technological advances, instead of helping to produce more, have contributed to the mediocrity of the sector. Working with film required a certain level of technical knowledge. You had to know about light, learn how to use it, and there were no images without lighting. With the new technologies, such considerations are often swept under the carpet. What the camera is capable of showing is enough. More often than not, the camera shows everything the same, with no nuances, and they are content with that, not developing the aesthetics in any way.

The problem of “continuity” is, without a doubt, one of the most ambivalent problems to solve. Cinema started with film shoots in Africa when laboratories did not yet exist. Movies were shot locally, and the film was developed in the West, and that was normal because the industry was not large enough to feed a professional laboratory. When digital filming arrived, filmmakers jumped on it as if it were the promised revolution.

However, digital in Africa was not the logical technical evolution as happened in the West. There, there was a process in which film slowly turned into digital, with a progressive adaptation of technicians, industry and intellectuals, which allowed digital to be used to its maximum when the movie professionals opted preferentially for digital over film. Africa did not experience this process. We went straight to digital, using the pretext that it is less expensive and “easier”. However, as we did not follow the evolution process of this technology, filmmakers have never been capable of exploiting digital in all its possibilities. Because the efficiency of its use also derives from the knowledge of traditional film: the color of the materials, lighting (natural/artificial), lenses, exposure (in relation to the color grading to follow), transfer, color grading and finished product. When you move on to digital after that process, you adapt, but you do not forget the basics.

With digital nowadays, all the work culture that existed around film has disappeared. Young people do not have a school that allows them to learn that part from the source. They take flight without understanding the invisible mechanisms.



He studied Dramatic Arts and Direction at the ENAM. His passion for cinema led him to work as an actor in TV series, but the scarcity of work pushed him into producing. He is among those creators whom we call “Independent”. He did not bud from the classical state studies. He did not receive a formation. He learned cinema on the roll and he developed a concept that he calls “Gabon Foremost”. They are small fictions based on true, everyday facts and corruption. He has a small production infrastructure and builds his films around a group of actors that work with him. He is capable of making a feature film with very little money. The money is distributed between salaries and consumables. There are 20 shooting days.

It is impossible for an independent director to work with technicians from the IGIS (Gabonese Institute of Image and Sound), the official film organism. An IGIS technician costs 460/day and, above all, they have a different mentality. The “Independents” do not fit in the mold, but they have the advantage of having popular legitimacy. They fill the rooms when they screen their films, they sell their DVDs to the general public. They exist.

It is true that this cinema, straight off the street, has technical flaws. The directors look for training, but the official system is so locked down that it is impossible to enter. It is a buddy system, and that is the only way it works.

Being able to work with a script consultant, train on professional productions or work with true professionals would make anyone happy, but it is just not possible.

Do independent directors shoot documentaries? And why do they do it? How do they manage to make their money back?

A production born in the streets and that awakens popular enthusiasm, is there anything more normal? People are happy because, finally, they have a chance to be portrayed in their own reality, in their lives, with their fantasies and excesses.

The vitality of street cinema (a concept that is also a contestable truth) has its own strengths. There are a great deal of productions, they shoot as soon as possible and they concentrate on the essential, the story. It is an uncomplicated approach, with little to prove to the world and that is justified by its links to the public. If all these attributes could be linked to a more developed film language, we would most certainly witness an explosion of creativity. However, a television writing format anchored by very obvious codes, limits the development of films outside their natural framework, and we witness the development of two parallel economies. One on hand, the state structure represented by IGIS, that follows traditional film methods and, on the other, the “Independent” directors who make films with few means and who film a lot more.

It is interesting to see that, in countries where the system is more developed, more mature economically, this duality does not exist, or does not show itself in the same way. The independent group would most likely work in television, because their rhythm and their writing style lend themselves to such. The group working with the state organisms, would dedicate itself to a cinema both national and international because their concept of images, of time, has a different set of rules. All the pieces are there, but there is no system or backing, no balance, and no one can find his place.



Ruled by autocratic presidents since independence from France in 1960, Gabon introduced a multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and for reforms of governmental institutions. A small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous black African countries.


Gabon gained independence from France in 1960. As with many other African countries the leadership was far from prepared to start a democratic process. The second freely elected president, Albert Bernard Bongo, rapidly took over full control, in a one party system. He turned the local radio and TV network into one of the most advanced in the region, all to be able to glorify his political system. Bongo influence, the power to replace every candidate in a major public role had an impact on the CENACI (Cinematic Centre)…that in the case of a vacancy for an executive position in the public media, the President has to select a candidate from a list of applicants drawn up by the CNC (Loi N8 14/91, 31). By this law the CNC managed to stop a presidential candidate from being appointed as executive director of the Centre National du Cinéma (CENACI) substituting the CNC’s candidate, Roland Duboze, a long-time critic of the Bongo regime.

Explorers, ethnologists and filmmakers have for long travelled the length and breadth of the country, oblivious to the fact that Gabon has many hidden natural riches. The list of films “made in Gabon” during colonial times is a very short one indeed.


Philippe Mory set the CENACI (National Center of Gabonese Cinema) in motion. Order number 39/75/ PR of June 25, 1975 created the National Center of Cinema (CENACI) to promote the development of the film industry. In that capacity, the CENACI controls and organises the production, coproduction and distribution of films. It is also in charge of producing the filming of current events in Gabon.

Placed under the tutelage of the Ministry of Communications, the CENACI enjoys financial independence. But the 550 million FCFA allotted by the State each year is not enough for it to fulfill all the missions it is assigned (in 2011, around 335 million FCFA according to its director).

Most Gabonese films are produced thanks to the support of France: L’Ombre de liberty (The Shadow of Freedom) by Imunga Ivanga (Fonds Sud Cinéma), Inspecteur Sori (Inspector Sori) by Mamady Sidibe (Fonds Images Afrique), Le Divorce (The Divorce) by Manouchka Kelly Labouba (FACMAS). France is the country that most contributes, alongside the OIF (International Organisation of French-Speaking Communities), to the Gabonese cultural industries.

As regards the fields of television and radio, the French contribution is mostly made in the form of training personnel and furnishing programmes. The partnership signed between Canal France International (CFI), the two public televisions and the private television TV+, do effectively allow RTG 1 and 2 to enjoy, free of charge, the complete programming of CF1; and allows TV+ to receive daily news media monitoring. In 2006, for example, 1339 hours of CFI programming were broadcast on the two public channels.

France also backs cultural industries via its cultural center located in the heart of the Gabonese capital. The

CCF Saint-Exupéry in Libreville is a space dedicated to the promotion of culture and meetings in which writers, musicians, singers and filmmakers follow, one after another, presenting their creations. It has one sole movie hall that regularly screens Gabonese films, and the largest public library in the country. This library houses a collection of documents on Gabon comprising more than 3,000 titles – books, memoirs, theses, journals, photographs, postcards, stamps, vinyl records, audio cassettes, etc.

As of 2007, and in collaboration with the Centre Culturel Français Saint Exupéry (Saint Exupery French Cultural Center), the CENACI launched a documentary film festival dubbed “Escales documentaires de Libreville” (Documentary Layovers of Libreville), whose purpose is to promote film culture in the country.

The IGIS (Gabonese Institute of Image and Sound) was created in February, 2010. This is the new name of the former CENACI (National Center of Cinema), created, in its moment, in 1975. The mission of the Gabonese Institute of Image and Sound is to develop Gabonese film and audiovisual production, in order to face one of the main challenges today, which is the protection and promotion of its cultural identity in a globalized world. Its General Director is the director and creator, Imunga IVANGA.




Like Charles Mensah said, “The problem with Gabonese cinema is that it is piecemeal”. There are no infrastructures…producing a film depletes a director and his friends for years to come.


II: Documentary films are privileged nowadays insofar as their economy is more feasible. Five years ago, we started a documentary film festival in Gabon, partnering up with the IGIS – then the CENACI – and the French Cultural Center, under the umbrella of French Cooperation. The idea was to make Libreville the hub of French-speaking documentaries in Africa.

OB:  Thats all?

II: We have great ambitions for the long run. Les Escales Documentaires de Libreville (EDL) allowed us to focus on documentary creation in Gabon, in Africa, at the same time we opened the doors to international documentaries. In 2010, during the 5th edition which took place from November 22-27, we had the privilege of screening, for the first time on the African continent, the four episodes of the series Africa(s), Another Story. And that gave rise to lively debates. One of the directors, Alain Ferrari, and the journalist Philippe Sainteny were present at Libreville. In the seventies, Alain Ferrari had co-directed a television soap, Où vas- tu, Koumba?, with Gabonese director, Simon Augé. The trust is there, all we need to do is pursue what we started. Meeting with the public, but also with the students, is fundamental: it helps build people’s view, and now we have an assiduous and passionate audience. After three years, a call for screenplays for documentary films lets us reinforce local documentary production. And so two films were presented at the Escales this year. We are going to take them to other festivals, which will contribute to making our work known.

OB: This documentary pursuit, is it conceived to compete with other countries engaged on the same route? 

II: No, what we want to do is nourish partnerships, and we believe that it is necessary to create synergies. We actively chose to create a non competitive festival, we do not grant prizes, and that creates room for serenity. People come to meet up, talk, develop documentaries and develop an audience. The involvement of the public powers should be more important, and that of the filmmakers even more so, to achieve the goals we seek.

OB: Distribution of documentaries does not exist outside television and a few international festivals, as a representative of the State, can you speak directly to the television channels?

II: That is precisely one of the actions we are working on. The festival is but an isolated event. And television nowadays has an enormous offer: national public African channels, package televisions… We want to involve them in the organisation of the festival and the films, from the start, the financing phase, which would guarantee distribution. But it is a complicated process and cannot be done at one go.

OB:  It’s true that it is not a usual habit of African televisions to buy documentary works.

II: Exactly. But there are channels such as Africable, Africa 24 or Voxafrica that do, even if they are mainly dedicated to the news. And new tendencies come forth. We will soon have African theme channels which we can take advantage of. We also contact channels outside the continent that do broadcast documentaries.

OB: You spoke of training, does that affect documentaries as well?

II: Yes, but not only documentaries. We are going to start workshops on lighting, sound, direction, production design, production, etc. We need to reinforce what we already know and take into account the technological evolution. Our technicians are often young and have not capitalized on shooting experience, those that do have experience need to re-learn, adapt to the constant evolution. There will be workshops with experts in each field, African or not African, in cycles, and we will try to make them coincide with certain productions to be able to work on something concrete. During the last edition of the festival, we organised a training seminar on cultural journalism directed by Thierno Ibrahima Dia. And this is very important, because if our work is not relayed in an efficient manner, objectively and/or subjectively, by professional critics, it has no impact. The challenge is to walk alongside the audience in their reading, their comprehension of the films they have seen; that will confirm or invalidate what they have experienced. And for the professionals, it is a great opportunity to get feedback, it is a chance to question their own work and take it further.

OB: If a film, even a documentary, exists for the media, then it really exists?

II: Exactly. We are talking about documentaries, but we also develop television projects, notably television fictions, series and TV movies, with a different mentality. And that should help us to train directors in short and long fiction features.


  •  Cage (La) 1963, Robert Darène
  • Tams tams se sont tus (Les) 1971, Philippe Mory
  • Identité 1972, Pierre-Marie Dong
  • Obali (1ère version) 1973, Philippe Mory
  • Obali 1976, Charles Mensah, Pierre-Marie Dong
  • Ayouma 1977, Charles Mensah, Pierre-Marie Dong
  • Demain, un jour nouveau 1978, Pierre-Marie Dong
  • Équateur 1983, Serge Gainsbourg
  • Singe fou (Le) 1986, Henri-Joseph Koumba Bididi
  • Raphia 1987, Paul Mouketa (Dread Pol)
  • Grand blanc de Lambaréné (Le) 1995, Bassek BaKobhio
  • Au bout du fleuve 1996, Imunga Ivanga
  • Grenouille qui veut se faire aussi grosse que le boeuf (La) 1996, Imunga Ivanga
  • Go zamb’olowi 1999, Imunga Ivanga
  • Dôlè (L’argent) 2000, Imunga Ivanga
  • Couilles de l’éléphant (Les) 2001, Henri-Joseph Koumba Bididi
  • Ombre de Liberty (L’) 2005, Imunga Ivanga
  • Songe au rêve 2006, Nadine Otsobogo Boucher
  • Jour de la grand nuit (Le) 2007, Henri-Joseph Koumba Bididi
  • Divorce (Le) 2008, Kelly Labouba
  • Confession finale 2008, André Côme Ottong
  • Collier du Makoko (Le) 2011, Henri-Joseph Koumba Bididi


  • À l’aube du quatrième jour Henri-Joseph Koumba Bididi
  • Sur le sentier du requiem 1971, Pierre-Marie Dong
  • Il était une fois Libreville 1972, Simon Augé
  • Anthropologie Visuelle 1983, Paul Mouketa (Dread Pol)
  • Regards au pluriel 1984, Paul Mouketa (Dread Pol)
  • Jeunes sont formidables (Les) 1986, Rose Elise Mengue-bekale
  • Tirailleurs d’ailleurs (Les) 1996, Imunga Ivanga
  • Pierre de Mbigou 1998, Roland Duboze
  • Souffle de la forêt (Le) 1998, Jean-Claude Cheyssial
  • Peuple de la forêt, Le 1999, Jean-Claude Cheyssial
  • Flots de Libreville (Les) 2000, Imunga Ivanga
  • Au commencement était le verbe (le Mvett) 2000, Antoine Abessolo Minko
  • Voir l’invisible, une initiation au Bwete Misoko 2003, Julien Bonhomme
  • Chemin de l’espoir 2005, Victorine Bella Meyo
  • Jeanne la Pêcheuse 2007, Pol Minko
  • De fil en aiguilles… le parcours d’un artiste 2007, Pol Minko
  • Gabao Hip Hop unis et engagés 2007, Audrey Yaa
  • Il est une fois… Naneth 2007, Nadine Otsobogo Boucher
  • Lybek, le croqueur du vif 2007, Jean Roger Mavoungou Edima
  • Gabon: The Last Dance 2008, Josh Ponte
  • Ceux qui mangent le bois 2008, Reza Serkanian
  • Gullah 2009, Jean-Christian Chavihot
  • Itchinda ou la circoncision chez les Mahongwe 2009, Antoine Abessolo Minko
  • Il était une fois Philippe Mory 2009, Issaka Compaoré
  • Oliver N’Goma le crooner 2010, René Paul Sousatte
  • Nouvelles écritures de soi (Les) 2010, Alice Aterianus
  • Rhythm of my life Ismael Sankara (The) 2011, Franck Onouviet, Marc A. Tchicot
  • Maréchalat du roi Dieu (Le) 2011, Yveline Nathalie Pontalier
  • Annie Flore Batchiellilys, Sur la route des Anges 2011, Jean Roke Patoudem


Factors determining annual trend of documentary film production in the country

As with most other countries, the level of funding available coupled with the availability of keen film producers and filmmakers will have a great effect on documentary film production.

Factors determining film length trends in the country

Again funding availability determines production length, but so does the choice of subject treatment.

Producers’ funding methods
  • Internet crowd sourcing (
  • NGO sponsorship
  • Self-funding
Producers’ documentary film production budget estimation methods

Ad hoc, there is not much experience, the industry is very young.

Most successful producers

Woyee Film & Theatre Industry collective, a grassroots arts organisation led by Daniel Denis, that is building the local industry are successful by default, as they are the only independent filmmakers in the country.

Elfatih Maluk Atem currently serves the Government of Southern Sudan’s Ministry of Culture and Heritage as the Senior Director of Cinematography and Film Industry where he coordinates the mobile cinema project, short film productions and training the youth of South Sudan in video techniques. An experienced actor and filmmaker, Atem has made numerous films and video productions and provided project coordination for UNESCO, War Child International, Great Lakes film company and South Sudan TV. In addition to his work in media production, Atem is an accomplished theatre actor and director and has served as faculty of Arts, Music and Drama at the University of Juba since 2006.

Local documentary production funding sources
  • Government
  • NGOs
  • Internet crowdsourced
  • Privately sourced
Funding eligibility criteria used by local documentary funding sources

As with most commissioned works, to be eligible for funding, the filmmaker must agree to toe the line as far as content is concerned.

Submission requirements used by local documentary production funding sources for funding consideration

NGOs usually specify their submission requirements in their calls for proposals.

Ownership issues in documentary film production

Copyright laws adopted from Sudan or Uganda are in force.

Documentary film production ownership issues, resolution methods and experiences

Resolution methods are by contract, arbitration, and ultimately judicial process.

Revenue allocation issues in documentary film production

Who gets paid what, when, and how much are issues nwhich all competent film contracts will deal with.

Documentary film production revenue allocation issues resolution methods and experiences

By contract, arbitration, and ultimately judicial process.


Agreements between fund sources and producers in documentary film production in the country

It depends on the source of the funds. If self-funded,

projects witll have a different contracts profile than if funded by a commissioning body.


Deliverables in documentary film production in the country

This depends on the distribution and method of

exhibition of the documentary works. Television broadcasters, for instance, will have their own formats and require works that adhere to their broadcasting standards. DVDs are also a popular way of delivering the finished work.



 Current professional development methods in the country
  • Peer mentorship
  • Woyee Film & Theatre Industry collective of about 150 young South Sudanese. Woyee has an estimated 150 members who operate from two branches: Torit and the current capital city of Juba
  • The Juba Media Collective is devoted to the development and promotion of media in South Sudan and committed to connecting media to the economic and social realities of everyday life in the Media can contribute to processes of democratization and to this end, JMC is dedicated to empowering and mentoring Sudanese voices marginalized from national and global media- making. In partnership with other community organisations, JMC hopes to nurture the growth of an independent and vibrant media sector composed of diverse perspectives, including amateurs and citizen producers, as well as media professionals. JMC also imagines multi-media collaborations, where media artists collaborate with writers, theatre artists and community educators to create installations, shows and events.
Professional development service providers for the filmmaking community in the country

The Juba Media Collective is an emerging community based organisation devoted to the development and promotion of media in South Sudan and committed to connecting media to the economic and social realities of everyday life in the region. The Collective was founded by its director, Elfatih Maluk Atem.

Professional development needs in documentary film production in the country

Training is the major need, followed by the development of critical infrastructure which the industry needs to survive and thrive.

Potential funding partners in the country, Africa, and beyond

FilmAid International was responsible for initial help given to the Woyee collective.

Film schools in the country and their levels of attendance

There is no film school as yet in South Sudan.

Film festivals in the country

Though there are no film festivals in South Sudan as of yet, the screening of Jamila, the first feature film to be produced entirely by the South Sudanese people, was quite an event when it was first screened at a local cultural centre. The screening was a big hit as over 500 people attended on the first day to watch the film. Those who attended included government officials, NGOs, etc.

Business management schools in the country

University of Juba

Journalism schools in the country

In 2010, Sudan Radio Services (SRS) entered a partnership with the University of Juba to set up a course in broadcast journalism at the university. This will lead to a Certificate in Broadcast Journalism, the first journalism training qualification to exist in Southern Sudan. Students on the course will be given hands-on broadcasting experience at SRS.

Technical schools in the country
  • Juba University
  • As of July 2011, South Sudan has twelve universities of which seven are public and five are
Professional and peer mentorship in the filmmaking community

Peer mentorship is most active in two film collectives:

The Woyee Film and Theatre Collective and the Juba Film Collective.

The Woyee organisation owes its humble beginnings to the efforts of Chandler Griffin, founding director of Barefoot Workshops in Mississippi, US, who provided advice and support as a former FilmAid International trainer at Kakuma Refugee Camp. Griffin initially sponsored two of the refugees, Daniel Danis and Simon Lokwang, to attend a film school in Nairobi to learn more about filmmaking. After completing the course, Lokwang and Danis, along with colleagues, formed Woyee with the dream of establishing a film industry in South Sudan. Woyee’s has in-house equipment such as a Sony PD camera, a Canon XL1 camera and a Mac computer (editing suite).

Categories of relevant tech-related companies in the country and their numbers

Computer shops can be found in Juba, but most of the equipment used in documentary film production in South Sudan is imported at great expense.

Local advocacy groups operating in the country and their issues
  • Educational advocacy groups
  • Women’s welfare advocacy groups
  • Health advocacy groups
  • Civic advocacy groups
Nature of involvement of advocacy groups in the professional development of documentary filmmakers

The Woyee group has been commissioned by health advocacy and civic advocacy groups.



Existing forms of documentary film distribution in the country and their capacities
  • TV
  • DVD
  • Internet

Watching a movie is a luxury in a country where electricity is scarce. The only cinema in Juba was destroyed during the war. Last year the French cultural centre organised screenings of several European films with a generator-powered projector and an open air screen. The screenings were packed every night.

Distribution options taken by local documentary filmmakers

The Woyee group has a website with links to some of the films it has produced that have been posted on the Internet. It has also distributed the film Jamila via DVD around the country free of charge to encourage people to join the film industry.

Woyee Film and Theatre Industry has produced over 25 short films and radio dramas, as well as public service announcements (PSAs) during the Voter Education Exercise in the 2010 Elections and the 2011 Referendum. These were distributed to all 10 states of South Sudan and to its radio stations. They also played on state television every day.

South Sudan has an underdeveloped film culture with no cinemas, which makes screening locally produced films difficult. Most people rely on the only television station in the country, the government-owned South Sudan Television.

Laws and regulations governing the distribution of documentary films in the country

Copyright Laws are in effect: The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Protection Act 1996.

Laws and regulations governing audience-building for documentary films in the country

Media Laws are in effect.

Audience-building strategies used in the country

Radio is the single most important source of news and information in South Sudan.

One popular means of mass communication is the broadcasting of messages such as Public Service Announcements (PSAs) via vehicles with loudspeakers. In Juba and the surrounding area, Sultan Jambo is widely respected and used by a number of different organisations.

Originators and executors of audience-building strategies for local documentary films in the country

The filmmakers themselves will try and build their own audience. Daniel Danis distributed free DVDs of the Woyee film Jamila in order to build audience and enthusiasm for the new film industry.

Revenue generation strategies for local documentary films in each distribution channel in the country
  • Woyee does rent out its camera equipment to make some money, but for now they focus on theatre because it’s cheaper than making films or short
  • DVD sales
African civil society groups in the country and nature of engagement with local documentary filmmakers
  • Agency for Independent Media (AIM) is an initiative launched by various media personalities in South Sudan to promote media freedom and professional journalism. The organisation also aims to strengthen the role of the media as a watchdog on the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
  • Association for Media Development in Southern Sudan (AMDISS)
Prevalence of copyright piracy of film in general and documentary works in particular in the country

With the literate population being quite low at the moment, and the penetration of TV and video equipment localized mainly in highly urbanized areas, the prevalence of piracy by volume is relatively low, but among those who own such equipment it may be another story.

Measures in place to deal with copyright piracy

Copyright law is in force.

Internet penetration in the country

A 2007 Hirondelle Foundation media survey of Southern Sudan found that only 7% of respondents used the internet. It also found that the overwhelming majority of internet users went online at an internet cafe. Since then, modems that link to the internet via the mobile phone network have become popular among computer owners, but connection speeds remain slow.

Potential subscribers for an online local documentary library and/or Internet channel for locally produced documentaries

In reality, only the educated elite in South Sudan’s main towns, foreign residents and the Diaspora overseas have access to the internet.

Internet usage by local documentary filmmakers

The Woyee group has a website from which it gives information about the work it does and with links to films it has made and posted on video hosting sites such as YouTube.

Political sensitivities
  • Ethnicity
  • Corruption



Modes of communication between local documentary filmmakers and funding sources

Mobile phone coverage remain limited, face-to-face communication through word of mouth remains hugely important, especially in remote rural areas.

Channels of communications that allow private exchange of information in the country

Face-to-face communications, email communications

Information sources used by local documentary filmmakers on various aspects of documentary production in the country

The film collectives are rich sources of industry information even though the industry is still young and such information is scant.


Factors determining annual trend of documentary film production in the country, and why

Funding has been the main factor determining the annual output of documentaries in the country.

The fragmented nature of the film industry in Tanzania makes the availability of historical annual production data hard to come by.

Factors determining film length trends in the country, and why

If the documentary is commissioned the film’s length will usually be specified. Budgetary constraints and subject matter treatments are also factors.

Producers’ funding methods

There is a lot of self-funding that takes place at this stage for non-commissioned works.

Commissioned work is fully funded, but for self- initiated documentary projects funding is extremely difficult. Some media development NGOs do exist in Tanzania, but they usually have a formal process where calls for proposals are made, proposals are evaluated and are selected for funding.

The fairly new Tanzania Media Fund is a real game changer in Tanzania as it is a very well funded body, but for all works, a broadcaster has to be attached, in order for a project to be considered.

It is generally easier to get funds to complete a work than begin it, especially if the work is compelling and/ or has the prospect of making money.

Producers’ documentary film production budget estimation methods

These estimates will be based on previous industry experience, but for commissions, an ad hoc approach to suit the budget is preferred unless clearly instructed otherwise.

Most successful producers

There are a few local documentary film production companies in Tanzania which have been in existence for some time. Invariably, the main reason for their survival is lot of NGO commissioned work, e.g., Abantu Production.

Local documentary production funding sources

Self-funding and NGOs mainly

Funding eligibility criteria used by local documentary funding sources

NGOs will usually only consider experienced Tanzanian filmmakers who can provide a show-reel of their work.

Submission requirements used by local documentary production funding sources for funding consideration

NGOs will usually need a proposal based on their brief which may or may not be based on clear instructions.

Ownership issues in documentary film production

Funders usually insist on the copyrights to the work, but with NGOs some creative rights of exhibiting the works are shared with producers. In any case, contractual agreements will usually spell out these issues in the terms.

Documentary film production ownership issues resolution methods and experiences

Through pre-contract negotiation

Revenue allocation issues in documentary film production

Some NGOs allow producers of their commissioned work to benefit from sales of their work. NGOs themselves usually expect to benefit from such commissioned works by raising public awareness on an issue and then receiving donations, if any, resulting from it.

Agreements between fund sources and producers in documentary film production in the country

As most documentary film work is NGO commissioned, contractual agreements are the norm.

Deliverables in documentary film production in the country

Most documentary works are not made for the big screen but for broadcast television and DVD, and these are the formats that will be required.


Current professional development methods in the country
  • Many industry professionals pursue their professional development through occasional workshops, master classes and seminars that are held every now and then such as when film festivals are held, for example.
  • There are NGOs who provide training: g., Get Real Training.
  • The School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Dar-es-Salaam provide some courses as well.
Professional development service providers for the filmmaking community in the country
  • Media for Development Initiative, a non-profit production house
  • Maa Media centre
Professional development needs in documentary film production in the country

Most filmmakers in Tanzania are self-trained so there are usually critical gaps in their skills.

Potential funding partners in the country, Africa
  • Tanzania Media Fund is already active in the country
  • There are a few global funds that are open to applications from documentary filmmakers around the world, including Africa, who could prove to be good partners.
Film schools in the country
  • Kilimanjaro Film Institute (Arusha)
  • GABA Africa (Dar es Salaam)
  • Institute of Arts & Media Communication (IAMCO) (Dar es Salaam, Ilala)
  • Tanzania School of Creative Media (Dar es Salaam, Kinondoni District)
  • Zakwetu (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Documentary film production training programmes in the country

These will occasionally be held during film festivals and at some institutions with trainers from abroad, but not as a permanent fixture in the Tanzanian film industry. Attendance is usually good.

Film festivals in the country
  • Zanzibar International Film Festival
  • Tanzania Open Film Festival
  • Festival of the Dhow Countries
Business management schools in the country
  • Eastern and Southern African Management Institute
  • College of Business Education – Dar es Salaam
  • College of Business Education – Dar es Salaam
  • Institute of Finance Management – Dar es Salaam

There is no direct formal involvement these institutions have with the film industry in Tanzania.

Journalism schools in the country

There are three universities that offer degrees in journalism and mass communications:

  • University of Dar-es-Salaam
  • Augustine University
  • Tumani University

Several other colleges provide diploma and certificate courses in journalism, but the government has stepped in to control the quality of courses offered by these institutions after complaints from several members of the journalism profession.

There is no direct formal involvement these institutions have with the film industry in Tanzania.

Technical schools in the country
  • Dar-es-Salaam Institute of Technology – Dar es Salaam
  • Institute for Information Technology – Dar es Salaam
  • University Computing Centre – Dar-es-Salaam
  • Kilimanjaro International Institute for Telecom- munications, Electronics and Computers – Arusha
  • Karume Technical College – Zanzibar

There is no direct formal involvement these institutions have with the film industry in Tanzania.

Professional and peer mentorship groups in the filmmaking community and their methods
  • These transient ad hoc groupings are usually formed at film festival events such as workshops and master classes.
  • Several production houses also carry out mentorships.
Professional and peer mentorship groups for editors in the filmmaking community
  • These transient ad hoc groupings are usually formed at film festival events such as workshops and master classes.
  • Several production houses also carry out mentorships.
Categories of relevant tech-related companies in the country and their numbers

There are several computer shops in the urban towns and cities of Tanzania. Camera shops are also to be found with some carrying catalogues of specialised professional equipment manufacturers and expressing a willingness to import on order.

As far as could be determined, no equipment vendor attended the film festivals in the country with intention of promoting their wares in the industry.

Film sales companies operating in the country and services offered to local documentary filmmakers

There are no visible film sales companies operating in Tanzania.

Film distribution companies operating in the country and services offered to local documentary filmmakers

Media for Development International Tanzania (MFDI) A24 Media

Filmmaking community advisory groups in the country
  • National Arts Council (BASATA)
  • Tanzania Film Censorship Board (TFCB)
  • Tanzania Film Federation (TAFF)
  • Tanzania Independent Producers Association (TAIPA)
Nature of involvement of advisory groups in the professional development of documentary filmmakers

Some of the advisory groups set up forums in which some of issues facing the film industry can be deliberated upon.

Local advocacy groups operating in the country and their issues

About 10 such organisations existed in Tanzania around 2007 and it is unlikely this number has changed very much. The issues these organisations deal with have to do with promoting human freedoms, equal opportunities, and anti-discrimination.

Nature of involvement of advocacy groups in the professional development of documentary filmmakers

These advocacy groups are usually NGOs some of whom will commission documentaries.

Documentary and news archives in the country and its volume

1972 saw the establishment of the National Film Library (NFL) which functions as an archive and a distributing agency for educational films produced by AVI and TFC. TFC collapsed due to several bureaucracies and institutional mismanagements while AVI was later on merged with National Television (TVT) now TBC in 2000.

In 2008, at the request of the East African Broadcasting Association, CFI put in place a long term project to assist the public radios and televisions of three countries in Africa in the definition of a policy for safeguard, valuation of their archives. 5 audiovisual organisations benefit from this project: TBC (Tanzania), TVZ and STV (Zanzibar), KBC (Kenya) and UBC (Uganda). Three workshops have already taken place. Since 2010, 3 cooperation missions have been organised for TBC. The cooperation between TBC and CFI began in 1996.

In September 2011, TBC participated in a familiarisation workshop for cleaning techniques, restoration and digitization of damaged archives.

Method of archive access and use by documentary filmmakers

Documentary filmmakers can negotiate for access, though the process is fraught with bureaucracy.



Existing forms of documentary film distribution in the country and their capacities
  • TV Broadcast
  • Theatrical release
  • DVD
  • Internet
  • Mobile Cinema
Distribution options taken by local documentary filmmakers
  • TV Broadcast
  • DVD
  • Internet for promotional purposes mainly
Educational film distributors operating in the country
  • Media for Development International Tanzania
  • Mobile Cinema: Touchline and also government ministry and church organisation operate mobile
Benefits local documentary filmmakers get from educational and non-profit distributors operating in the country

Exposure of their work will bring them a measure of renown and opportunities for more work.

Laws and regulations governing the distribution of documentary films in the country
  • Copyright and media laws are in force in
  • Tanzanian Copyright Society (COSOTA) conducted a major raid against video piracy in September 2009 where eight distributors were sacked in Dar es Salaam and tons of pirated material impounded.
Laws and regulations governing audience-building for documentary films in the country
  • Media laws are in force in Radio is the most widely accessed medium of mass communication.
  • Experiences of documentary filmmakers with legal framework governing distribution of and audience- building for local documentaries exist.
  • The process of getting a film rated for distribution is sometimes frustrating.
Audience-cultivation strategies used in the country

Radio advertising followed by TV and printed media are used. Word of mouth is also quite effective.

Originators and executors of audience-building strategies for local documentary films in the country

This is usually the distributor’s responsibility, but filmmakers find themselves forced by a survival instinct to pitch in.

Revenue generation strategies for local documentary films in each distribution channel in the country

DVD sales and revenue sharing with broadcasters are also possible if sponsors are found.

Social movements in the country and nature of engagement with local documentary filmmakers

There is a weak tradition of social movements in Tanzania. However, there are some that should be pointed out such as: the reproductive and sexual rights and health movement, the mineral wealth for locals movement, equal justice for the poor movement, and also the “charismatic” Christianity movement.

Some African civil society groups in the country and nature of engagement with local documentary filmmakers
  • The Foundation for Civil Society
  • Tanzania Women Lawyers Association
  • Christian Council of Tanzania
  • Guluka Kwalala Youth Environmental Group agenda Participation 2000
  • Bus Drivers Association
  • Hakikazi Catalyst
  • TMWDO – Tanzanite Mine Workers Development Office
Potential ADFF partners in other activist groups in the country
  • Tanzania Media Fund
  • Media for Development International Tanzania
Issues concerning distribution rights in each distribution channel and their resolution

These issues are usually dealt with in negotiated contracts subject to the laws of Tanzania.

Securing and administration of distribution rights in the country

These issues are usually dealt with in negotiated contracts subject to the laws of Tanzania.

Prevalence of copyright piracy of film in general and documentary works in particular in the country

The creative industries in Tanzania lack both systematized distribution and established marketing channels. Therefore, piracy affects both film and music industries. Copyright infringement and trading in counterfeit goods are major challenges and pose a risk to the sustainability of the industry.

Measures in place to deal with copyright piracy in the country and their effectiveness

Even though there is Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA), its capacity and what it does is less than satisfactory. While both film and music productions have committed audience/consumers, the society is faced by lack of awareness of the consequences of buying pirated copies of music CDs or films.

Internet penetration in the country
  • Internet penetration is less than 5%
  • Internet hosts – 24,182 (2010)
  • Internet users – 678,000 (2009)
  • Population – 42,746,620 ( July 2011 )
Potential subscribers for an online local documentary library and/or Internet channel

There is no specific data of the number of Tanzanians in the Diaspora but it is believed that the number has slightly exceeded 2,000,000, living and working in different countries in the world. Generally, the Diaspora has a much higher access to the Internet than local populations. The Tanzanian Diaspora therefore points to a subscriber base of about 100,000 at a 5% subscription rate. Internet penetration in Tanzania is bound to grow, however.

Internet usage by local documentary filmmakers

Internet has only been used for promotional purposes with video posted on YouTube and other free video hosting platforms.

Political sensitivities

Ethnic tensions are a highly sensitive subject in Tanzania.



Modes of communication between local documentary filmmakers and funding sources

Fixed and mobile telephone communications are possible, Internet telephony (e.g., Skype) is available. The Internet also makes email and instant messaging feasible.

Channels of communications that allow private exchange of information in the country

Fixed and mobile telephone communications is possible, Internet telephony (e.g., Skype) is available. The Internet also allows emails and instant messaging.

Information sources used by local documentary filmmakers on various aspects of documentary production in the country

There is no single repository of information and filmmakers tend to make use of their networks of contacts to find out what they need, whom to work with and whom to seek help from.

Kinds of information that local documentary filmmakers would benefit from being in a directory or guidebook

Everything a filmmaker needs to know about the industry, but most especially on sources of funding, upcoming projects, and training.


Factors determining annual trend of documentary film production in the country

Financial considerations loom large. Shorter films on the whole cost less.

Factors determining film length trends in the country

The key determining factors are rooted in financial considerations.

Producers’ funding methods
  • Up-front commission
  • Self-sourced funds from personal savings, family, friends.
  • When a work has been produced, distributors are willing to talk, especially when their potential interest is made clear.
Producers’ documentary film production budget estimation methods

Since the industry is still informal and fragmented, the budgeting is done mainly from direct experience in the industry. Because of the scarcity of commissions, budgets vary a great deal, with allocations for crews being highly flexible.

Most successful producers

The most successful production houses are propelled by NGO commissioned work.

Local documentary production funding sources

NGOs are the most active commissioners of documentaries.

Funding eligibility criteria used by local documentary funding sources

The critical eligibility criteria is that a production house is a legally registered entity with a bank account. A show-reel of previous work is also necessary, as well as a willingness to work closely with an NGO to craft the audio-visual message.

Submission requirements used by local documentary production funding sources for funding consideration

These will be determined by the commissioning organisation.

Ownership issues in documentary film production

In most cases the copyrights are retained by the commissioning organisation, but producers are able to submit and screen works with permission.

Documentary film production ownership issues resolution methods and experiences
  • Ownership issues are best resolved before the documentary is made, and reflected in any agreements that are entered into prior to production.
Revenue allocation issues in documentary film production

As most documentary production in Uganda is NGO commissioned, the question of revenue does not really arise, but with the new internet based distribution platforms coming up, revenue allocation between distributor and producer is on the basis of a revenue split between platform and producer.

Documentary film production revenue allocation issues, resolution methods and experiences

Revenue allocation issues, such as ownership issues, need to be resolved in advance and covered by a signed contract.

Agreements between fund sources and producers in documentary film production in the country

Commissioning NGOs usually have quite comprehensive agreements that production houses sign for the work

Deliverables in documentary film production in the country

Most commissioning organisations specify the format in which the finished production should be delivered.

Reporting requirements during documentary film production in the country

Occasional presentations of what has been achieved at various points in the production are made.



Current professional development methods in the country

The availability of professional training institutions is inadequate given the interest from newcomers. Professionals in the industry, however, do a great deal of on-the-job learning. This is particularly true when experienced highly skilled filmmaking crews from countries with established documentary industries come into the country to film with local crews on location. Training programmes in the country also bring in highly experienced filmmakers to give workshops. These workshops tend to be quite popular on the whole.

Professional development service providers for the filmmaking community in the country

There are NGOs and a filmmaking school, the MAISHA Film Lab, that provides professional development services to the filmmaking community.

Professional development needs in documentary film production in the country

While most filmmakers appreciate the development phase of documentary film production, the commissions that come from NGOs, and that are heavy on message, do not provide the opportunity to fully derive the benefits from this phase due to narrow scripting demands.

Changing technology and techniques necessitate that continuous professional development is a must if work produced is to be internationally competitive.

Post-production is as equally important as actual production. Here too, technological changes necessitate continuous professional development.

Potential funding partners in the country, Africa, and beyond and their level of activity
  • Diplomatic missions all have cultural The Danes in particular have recently been involved in supporting youth in filmmaking.
  • There are quite a number of international funds which have already funded documentaries in the
  • NGOs will occasionally commission
Film schools in the country

Several unaccredited schools offer training in filmmaking but their student figures could not be obtained, for example, Kibera Film School in Kampala.

Documentary film production training programmes in the country
  • The Maisha Film Labs
  • Kibera Film School in Kampala
Professional development courses offered in local film schools and training programmes

Maisha Film Labs do not charge for their workshops, but there is a necessarily strict filtering of applicants given the volume of applications.

Film festivals in the country
  • Amakula Film Festival
  • Uganda Film Festival
  • African Film Festival
  • Amakula Film Festival
Business management schools in the country

The Makerere University and the private Kampala University offer a full range of courses. These are reputable institutions.

Kampala University has a film course but it is not clear to what extent it is involved with the Ugandan film industry, nor the business management courses offered there.

Journalism schools in the country

Makerere University and the private Kampala University offer a full range of courses. With support from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) is continuing its training programme for journalists at the regional and district levels.There is no direct involvement with the industry immediately evident.

Professional and peer mentorship in the filmmaking community

Mentorship is very informal and often described as taking someone under the wing. Experienced producers and editors will often share advice with junior colleagues, or even new entrants into the industry, but not much time can be afforded for mentorship. Experienced writers will often share advice with junior colleagues, or even new entrants into the industry, but not much time can be afforded for mentorship. Among writers, mentorship is most easily achieved because of the nature of the endeavour. Writing can be exchanged and constructively critiqued more readily than can a producer’s or director’s performance, which needs in situ feedback from a mentor to be most effective. With editors, informal ad hoc mentorships are formed on a project by project basis. Crews tend to shuffle and knowledge and skills are disseminated by coming into contact with colleagues who may have picked up new knowledge or techniques from previous projects.

Categories of relevant tech-related companies in the country

Professional filming cameras and editing software are imported and not locally procurable through an agency. There are many consumer computer and camera shops in the city, but these do not have the ‘industrial strength’ equipment required by most filmmakers to produce work to international standards. No direct involvement with the documentary film industry is immediately evident.

Film sales companies operating in the country and services offered to local documentary filmmakers

Specialised sales companies dealing with films simply do not exist locally. There have been cases where foreign brokers have sold documentary films to air on foreign television stations. With the advent of the internet distribution platform, producers are able to deal directly with the distributor. These aggregators of content are coming up fast and will be able to negotiate more favourable terms for themselves and filmmakers with broadcasters in particular. No direct involvement with the documentary film industry is as yet immediately evident.

Film distribution companies operating in the country and services offered to local documentary filmmakers

In Uganda, Fast Track Productions has launched an internet distribution platform They have developed the service to an advanced stage and already have some of their own productions, a soap series titled Hostel, online. Initially their main target market is the Ugandan Diaspora.

Filmmaking community advisory groups in the country

Censorship is active.

  • There are many advisory groups in Uganda advising on various issues and aspects of They include:The National Advisory Group, Youthful Advisory Group, and others.
Nature of involvement of advisory groups in the professional development of documentary filmmakers

Especially in the making of documentary films to do with public health, these advisory groups are consulted in order to help shape the message the commissioning organisations seek to impart to society.

Local advocacy groups operating in the country

Advocacy groups do exist in Uganda. Many of the international NGO are advocating for something, and are the most active in commissioning filmmakers to make documentaries and message-driven dramatic features. Local advocacy groups include:

  • Uganda Debt Network
  • Uganda Youth Network
  • Uganda Rural Development & Training Programme
Nature of involvement of advocacy groups in the professional development of documentary filmmakers

Advocacy groups need their messages put in film as well, and will occasionally engage with filmmakers in this respect.

Documentary and news archives in the country and its volume

Broadcasters have extensive but unorganised collections of footage, access to which is limited. In most cases, documentary filmmakers have to resort to foreign archives maintained by organisations such as A24 Media, Reuters, and others at great expense.

Method of archive access and use by documentary filmmakers

It is quite straightforward, when funds are available, to purchase footage from established archives abroad.



Existing forms of documentary film distribution in the country and their capacities
  • DVD
  • Broadcast Television
  • Internet distribution
Distribution options taken by local documentary filmmakers and why
  • DVD
  • The delivery requirement for commissioned documentaries is usually in this format.
Educational film distributors operating in the country and their capacities

The Documentary Educational Research Company is an online educational material distributor.

Non-profit film distributors operating in the country and their capacities

YouTube allows any filmmaker to distribute their product for free on its platform. Though not strictly a non-profit, it is virtually free for producers to put their works out to be seen by the world. What’s more, YouTube has a tantalizing profit-share formula that depends on the number of views the film gets. There are no local not-for-profit film distributors in Uganda. Some of the foreign not-for-profit distributors include Invisible Children Inc., which was responsible for the KONY 2012 viral video phenomenon and the Uganda Humanitarian Communications Initiative.

Benefits local documentary filmmakers get from educational and non-profit distributors operating in the country

Documentary filmmakers want their work seen, so any effort to make this happen is a boon to documentary filmmakers.

Laws and regulations governing the distribution of documentary films in the country
  • There are copyright laws in Uganda which have, of late, been enforced by authorities.
  • Filming requires
  • Government censors are quite
Laws and regulations governing audience-building for documentary films in the country

Some audience-building strategies require that producers advertise and/or publicize documentaries. Consumer protections laws will, as a matter of course apply, though how well these are enforced is another matter.

Experiences of documentary filmmakers with legal framework governing distribution of and audience- building for local documentaries Narrative

Apart from signing legally binding agreements and making sure their production houses are registered and up to date, there is little interface documentary producers seek with the law.

Audience-cultivation strategies used in the country in descending order of effectiveness
  • Word of mouth and by popular acclaim
  • Advertising, especially on the radio, and posters
  • Publicity through interviews in media
Originators and executors of audience-building strategies for local documentary films in the country
  • The Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) has a membership that has been devising such strategies as their mission.
  • Many other marketing and advertising agencies
Revenue generation strategies for local documentary films in each distribution channel in the country

Broadcasters in Uganda cannot be counted on to generate revenues for documentary makers. In fact in order to have their work aired producers pay the broadcaster for the right. The internet distribution platforms now coming up promise a better way of generating revenue. For DVD sales to generate any significant revenue, the volume must be so large and the unit price so low as to de-incentivize any pirates.

The content also has to be pretty sensational for the general public to be sufficiently interested to spend its money. Commissioned documentaries suffer no such challenges, and this is the route most filmmakers take.

Originators and executors of revenue generation strategies for local documentary films in the country

All revenue generation strategies are up for negotiation, but with internet platform distribution, producers are offered distribution agreements by the platform operator.

Social movements in the country and nature of engagement with local documentary filmmakers
  • The impact of a recession economy seems to have brought many Ugandans together to demand There have been demands from medical students, and unions have become more active in their demands too. On the artistic front, poetry has gained a momentum that is sure to carry on for some time. There is also an anti-gay backlash that is being driven by evangelical churches, particularly from the United States. The ruling party considers itself a movement, the National Resistance Movement.
  • Uganda Land Alliance
African civil society groups in the country and nature of engagement with local documentary filmmakers
  • National Advisory Group (NAG)
  • Gulu NGO Forum
  • National Union of the Disabled Persons of Uganda
  • Anti Corruption Coalition of Uganda
  • National Association of Uganda Small Business Organisations
  • Kabarole Research Centre
  • Soroti Civil Society Network

Local civil society groups will occasionally engage filmmakers to document events.

Potential ADFF partners in other activist groups in the country and the nature of engagement with local documentary filmmakers

Activists can be found in Uganda, and their activities are often in broadcast news. Before it was banned for being a security threat, the exploits of the Activists for Change were well documented by local media outlets. Other activists include:

  • Campaign to End Genocide in Uganda Now (CEGUN)
  • Sexual Minorities Uganda
Issues concerning distribution rights in each distribution channel and their resolution

All such issues are to be covered in distribution agreements, failing which, determination by an arbitrator or court of law is required. Laws concerning copyright are enacted in Uganda.

Securing and administration of distribution rights in the country

Distribution rights are secured by means of legal agreements entered into between content providers and distributors

Prevalence of copyright piracy of film in general and documentary works in particular in the country

The prevalence of piracy is high. Any film, documentary or otherwise, that is popular, expensive in the original, and not widely available is vulnerable to piracy.

Measures in place to deal with copyright piracy in the country and their effectiveness

There are enacted copyright laws in Uganda. Anti-counterfeit mechanisms for DVDs have been introduced. Some filmmakers think it would be wise to engage the pirates and bring them out of the shadows with distribution deals, thus taking advantage of their wide distribution networks and reducing piracy.

Internet penetration in the country
  • Population – 34,612,250 (est 2011)
  • Internet Users – 4,178,085
  • Internet Penetration – 1%
Potential subscribers for an online local documentary library and/or Internet channel

Even if we peg this at 5%, it equates to about 200,000 users.

Internet usage by local documentary filmmakers

YouTube has brought about a revolution in audio-visual access by millions of people. This has not gone unnoticed by filmmakers the world over who have posted trailers, showreels, and completed works on the platform. Ugandan filmmakers have been no different. Most production houses also have an internet profile.

Political sensitivities
  • Opposition politics
  • Staple food prices



Modes of communication between local documentary filmmakers and funding sources

Face to face presentations are common.

The communication channels in Uganda are good, mobile telephones have proliferated with about five network operators, and courier services are available in the city. The internet has certainly made communications very easy, though slow at times.

Channels of communications that allow private exchange of information in the country

Face to face communications are usually best, and so are courier services. DHL have agents in Kampala. Email communications are also quite secure.

Information sources used by local documentary filmmakers on various aspects of documentary production in the country

Word of mouth and informal exchanges of information are the most prevalent means by which filmmakers obtain the information they need to do their work. It is inefficient. Conventional information sources like newspapers and magazines are also used. Lately, bloggers on the internet have taken to reporting the on-goings in the arts world of which documentary filmmaking is a part.

Kinds of information that local documentary filmmakers would benefit from being in a directory or guidebook

The documentary is in constant need of information on funding sources and information on how to successfully apply for funding. Since the industry is quite fragmented, an organised directory of industry players and their contacts and profile, and the details of suppliers, including prices of products and services would really help filmmakers