The research in Southern Africa covered 10 countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The aim was to learn “more about the status of documentary filmmaking, education, production and distribution in Africa specifically documentary filmmaking by Africans for an African audience”.

We used a qualitative research approach to gather information from various sources: literature and internet reviews and interviews of key informants and stakeholders. We were able to visit some of the countries (Botswana, Madagascar, South Africa and Zambia) where we conducted focus group discussions.

The internet was a useful tool to gather information but the support of some local film organisations, production houses and documentary makers has been a key element to get more insightful and detailed information. We would like to thank them for all their input and great support during the research.

One of the key findings of our research is the unsustainability of creative documentary production for a majority of documentary makers. Another important finding, is the similarity of the situation in the 10 countries, with the exception of South Africa.

Since the 90’s, Southern African countries have been able to move to more democratic systems. The privatization of the media sector has opened new opportunities for documentary makers as new private TV stations came to life. And with the arrival of more affordable digital technology, some documentary makers were able acquire their own filming and editing equipment. However, access to equipment remains a far-off reach for many. South Africa is the only country to host many rental houses with the latest equipment and valuable technical support companies.

Funding of documentaries is a major problem. In most countries in Southern Africa, with again the exception of South Africa, there is a dominance of funding from international NGOs and institutions with subjects and messages dictated by the (often) foreign funder and sometimes from governmental bodies.

In most countries there are no formal established distribution companies for documentaries. South Africa is again an exception with a few companies focusing on the distribution of documentaries. However, the sales results are not financially motivating for the producers.

The most common distribution platform in the region is the TV station. But national TV stations seldom broadcast documentaries and those who can afford it can see documentaries on cable TV networks. Theatrical screenings of documentaries have not yet started. In these aspects, South Africa is an exception. However, broadcast acquisitions and theatrical screenings have not proven to be sufficient sources of revenue for documentary filmmakers as yet.

Mobile cinemas by non-profit organizations, as part of their awareness campaigns, allow people in remote areas to see documentaries. But the producers are generally not benefiting in terms of revenue from this distribution avenue.

Most of the countries in Southern Africa host film festivals (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland) and/or short film festivals (Madagascar and Mauritius). In Botswana there is a project to set up an international film festival. But a larger effort is required to promote an appreciation of documentary films and the cinematic experience in general.

In conclusion, with the exception of South Africa, documentary making is under-developed and not properly supported in Southern Africa. Those that practice it do it part time, as a passion or a “hobby”. A few are able to get their projects funded overseas or by private companies.

But as filmmakers are starting to mobilise and organise themselves in associations, one sees more support coming from governmental bodies. In many countries this has resulted in attempts to create a national film fund. The main problem remains the lack of professionalism and sustainability of all these organisations.

Training is also a key obstacle. Most universities and colleges in Southern Africa offer courses in media but these are mainly theoretical with little practical content. Several specialized institutions also exist but they don’t offer full time professional training. Many filmmakers and arts organisations and film festivals conduct ad hoc documentary film training.

South Africa is the exception in the region as the country has several film schools with comprehensive 3-year classes on film/documentary production, becoming a regional training base.

In this context, what are the future prospects for documentary makers? Today, the media is playing a key role in the fight against corruption and is covering issues related to poverty reduction. There is also the rise of social media and increasing interest in new technologies.

Local filmmakers will need to mobilise themselves to be on the forefront of this change.

Governments also need to play a more proactive role to facilitate the work of documentary makers. Although most countries have some legal frameworks that tackle issues of censorship, copyright and even funding, they are not fully developed and miss proper implementation measures. This situation allows piracy to boom, encourages producers to censor themselves and makes them struggle to get funded locally.

On the other side, most places in Southern Africa do not yet have fast, reliable and affordable internet to use for online distribution. But despite these limitations, the internet can be better exploited as young people in particular are very interested in social media and internet access is growing. And as smart phones are becoming more affordable, more consumers, and especially young ones, use them to watch short videos on the internet.

Finally, the global economic crisis has led Northern donors to reduce funding for African film productions. This obliges professional filmmakers to seriously review on-going business practices. In order to more effectively play their role, they have to look at innovative and sustainable ways to produce and get local documentary content out.


 Potential partners for funding
  • Embassies (French, British, Japanese, American, Chinese, etc.)
  • Private companies: mobile companies, banks, petrol stations,
  • UN organisations (UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, )
  • International institutions: GIZ (German Society for International Cooperation), SADC (Southern African Development Community)

Botswana hosts the Secretariat of this African organisation, OIF (Organisation International de la Francophonie), SAMDF (South African Media Development Fund)

  • Parastatal companies: DEBSWANA (the national diamond company), BDC (Botswana Development Corporation), Botswana Tourism Organisation, BEDIA (Botswana Export Development Investment Agency), NACA (National AIDS Coordination Agency)
  • Governmental organisations: Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC)
  • International NGOs: ACHAP (HIV/AIDS), PSI (social marketing),

Point of discussion: Dominance of funding by the Government of Botswana and International NGOs with subjects and messages dictated by the (often) foreign funder; development media is not media development; in almost all cases both copyright and authorship are retained by the funder — there is neither creative nor journalistic independence; without both the most you get is pseudo-documentary.

Film schools, training programmes

There are 2 main institutions providing a 4-year media related training and delivering a BA Degree in Media Studies (including video, PR, journalism, etc.): the University of Botswana and the Limkokwing University. According to some, the trainers need more in-depth training and the Limkokwing University offers more practical classes.

ABI Films, a film production company, has a project to run workshops (boot camps, with special guests, etc.). The company is developing an art curriculum with the Mogolokwame Arts Academy and the WITS University in SA for short practical training. It has also trained students in workshops at the University of Botswana and the Limkokwing University.

University of Botswana is seen as too generalist and with a “white-collar” bias. There is an explicit and implicit culture that splits people into those who have ideas and those who implement ideas which is reflected in its faculty. This culture is alien to the reality of independent film production and the Creative Industries as a whole.

The Limkokwing University by its very design, pre- supposes an industry in which their graduates can find employment and continue to learn on the job through apprenticeships, internships and entry-level positions.

Neither UB nor LU are contributing anything other than a large number of unemployed and unemployable young people without that combination of knowledge and craft competencies that would allow them to be self-employed or creative entrepreneurs.

In conclusion there is little in terms of training on film; many go overseas, mainly to SA and Malaysia for short courses.

The film industry has no growth yet and profess- ionalism in the sector is still low, but there is a strong interest in film.

Renée Gilbey and John Clement, partners in Storyline Media, came to Botswana in 1994 as volunteer Producer/Trainers on a two-year contract. and in 1994- 95 designed and delivered a series of three 12-week workshops in “Creative Documentary”. The workshops were used by the National Film Board of Canada’s “Constructing Reality” curriculum as its base and included a strong media literacy component. They also built a small but inclusive library of documentary films including from Africa. They are currently working

on a 26-episode drama series front-ended by a media development upskilling project, DramaLabs.

  • Need for short practical laboratorial type training (one month or 3 months to a year).
  • Need to partner with local organisations for training g. the Foundation for Contemporary Visual arts.
  • Need to fund regional training programme: no need to reinvent the wheel but support existing regional

The design of any training project needs to be “site- specific” and cyclic. By cyclic we mean that there needs to be at least three production projects of increasing complexity and sophistication. Learn-produce-critique- learn more-produce…repeat. There should be a strong media literacy component throughout. All participants should leave with empathy for the crafts of filmmaking and the ethics of the documentary process.

Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative

The University of Botswana and the Limkokwing University

Human Resource Development Council. This parastatal organisation is responsible for regulating training institutions and approving curricula.


There is no international film festival yet. However, every year in April, a small festival, the Ditshwanelo Film Festival, shows international and local documentaries on human rights issues over the course of a week. Because of political sensitivities they don’t show controversial documentaries. They are funded mainly by international human rights organisations and a bit by local sponsors. Before 2009, the EU used to have an European film festival every year.

The Department of Arts and Culture, from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, is brainstorming a film festival project with local filmmakers. The goal will be to cultivate interest in films among audiences and sponsors and also to encourage filmmakers to screen their work. In the beginning they want to set up a national festival to showcase local productions and talents. The project has been delayed because of division between the local filmmakers and the fact that there is not yet a film association where filmmakers can unite.


Support needed in funding and expertise to set up a local film festival.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

There is not yet an association of filmmakers. The filmmakers still need to come together in an association and the progress is minimal so far.

A couple of associations existed before but they collapsed when expectations that the TV stations that began broadcasting 10 years ago would distribute their work, failed. Today local TV stations turn down most documentaries because of “lack of quality”.

There is also no Art Council yet in Botswana. The government is uncertain as to which ministry the film industry should be ascribed to.

Despite the various challenges, there is a lot of motivation among filmmakers to come together; many see that working alone does not work.

In terms of mentorship projects, it is important to mention the work done by Storyline Media, a production company run by John Clement and Rene Gilbey (of Canadian origin). They have in the past years run workshops on documentary for aspiring filmmakers.


Need to “educate” officials to support and recognise local filmmakers, for example by organizing an annual award event.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film

There are no important rental houses. Before, a few were present but they were too expensive for rental. Many filmmakers bought their own equipment but are not renting them out.

Production companies with basic equipment: ABI Films, News Co, Storyline Media, Motion Blur. D Zone, TM Pictures, Cowhorn Productions, Film 3 Screen Productions.

There is a need for a rental place of professional accessories for light, sound, camera, tracks, dolly, etc.


Need for a professional equipment rental house and also technical support company (for sound, post production, etc.).

Sales companies, distributors advisory group

There is no distribution company for films, nor for music. (Most artists distribute themselves in stores and on the street.)

Generally, the filmmakers themselves go to local TV stations and register their films into festivals overseas.

Most chain stores (Game, etc.), all from South Africa, only distribute foreign content. The filmmakers need to go to South Africa if they want their productions to be distributed there. Game tried to distribute local films but payment was slow.


Need for serious distributors.

Advocacy partners
  • Department of Arts and Culture from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture
  • COSBOTS (Copyright Society of Botswana) that started recently and is funded by the Ministry of Trade
  • Department of Information and Broadcasting (DBS), from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs
  • The National Broadcasting Board, responsible to regulate media stations
  • The BTA (Botswana Telecomm Authority), responsible for licensing TV-radio stations
Existing documentary and news archives

The National Archive at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture gathers mostly governmental productions although all are supposed to take their productions there.


 All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

There are 2 TV stations: E Botswana, a subsidiary of South African ETV, and BTV, the national broadcasting company. E Botswana only broadcasts in and around the capital Gaborone. BTV has a national reach. Both TV stations generally produce in-house and barely commission. E Botswana shows local shows and content from E Africa. BTV broadcasts a news bulletin, local programmes and old foreign content.

Very few filmmakers use the internet for distribution, and then, mostly for trailers.

The Gaborone Film Society screens movies and documentaries every month. It is mostly attended and run by expats.

The Alliance Française is running a Cine club every month on Thursday in a school with limited seating capacity. They screen films and documentaries, but mostly from French speaking countries, and are funded by the French embassy.

There is currently a project to open an Art and Essay films screening venue.


Need to encourage local TV stations to commission independent productions.

Educational and non-profit distributors

None existing except the productions commissioned by NGOs and institutions that they distribute to their audience themselves.

Most funding goes to HIV/AIDS content.


Need for funding for outreach programmes on key development issues.

Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

There is no entertainment law except the Copyright Act under which COSBODS (that deals with registration and payment of copyright) is operating. Its implementation is weak because most of the public is not aware of copyright issues. The police are supposed to enforce the law, but do not. The prosecution also does not use the copyright law when it is making judgments. In general, there is very little understanding of how to enforce the law.

The Cinematographic Act of 1977 deals with censorship; but the law is not being implemented any more as it is too old and unrealistic. The society is seen as too conservative and what exists is “self censorship”.

As the film industry is still coming up, filmmakers expect the law to adapt gradually.

Discussions have been going on since 2008 between the government and professionals. The government has commissioned a study on the viability of the film industry. A few issues were dealt with (festival, film commission, etc.) but until now the decisions have not been implemented. The study also misses a broader consultation. The government is mostly interested in showcasing on TV the various development programmes it is doing and has not yet embraced educational or edu-tainment TV programmes.

The other problem is that there are no lawyers specializing in entertainment.

  • Legal practitioners need to explore and know more about entertainment
  • Need implementation of copyright law.
  • Need to add media law in
  • Need for more public awareness and implementing
Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

None existing.


The upcoming festival aims to build audience and to encourage Botswana’s to appreciate more of what is locally produced.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

The problem with the film industry is that it is almost non-existent and is very fragmented. Also, the government has not been interested in investing in local productions. Individuals are pushing, but there are no important results yet.

In Botswana the private sector is weak as the state still controls a lot of businesses. Also, a majority of goods are coming from South Africa.

A cheap Chinese TV decoder is airing foreign channels (including the South African TV station SABC). The local TV stations have to compete with them for sponsorship. As most of the key potential sponsors are South African companies, the private channel E Botswana has difficulties to survive as the sponsors prefer to fund programmes on SABC that are airing across Africa. E Botswana has decided to sue Syntech for allegedly airing foreign channels on the Chinese decoder. The TV station has won the court case but Syntech has appealed and they are awaiting the final court decision.

Most filmmakers go to the 2 local TV stations for screening. They negotiate a commission on the airtime and look for sponsors.

BTV commissions through a tender process, but very rarely.

A major problem for filmmakers is that the equipment the government has invested in is allocated only to departments that produce programmes in-house for BTV. Despite protests from individuals for shared access, there has been no change.

Most documentary makers generate incomes by producing for NGOs and UN organisations.

The government of Botswana has done very little to develop or even recognise the creative industries as a potential source of economic diversification, meaningful employment and new cultural production.

  • The government should stop producing internally and outsource local producers.
  • There are many governmental funds available that could be directed to fund
  • The local TV stations should have timely commission cycles that everyone should know
  • Need for organisations to facilitate access to international
  • The fund needs to look for partnerships with East Africa that are broadcasting across Africa and through links with Africa Channel (part of the Sky cable bouquet) that also reaches the African
  • Need to raise awareness among private companies to fund documentaries as part of their social On the other side, the government has to also have an interest in investing in films.
Study of rights issues for distribution – both broadcast and online (Can we secure online rights across ‘territories’?)

Although legally possible, the implementation is difficult as piracy is widespread.

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

Need awareness campaigns and stronger implementation measures for media law to be effective.

Possible creation of online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others
  • The initiative will be
  • Although in Botswana internet is expensive and unreliable, it has not been fully Young people are very interested by social media and internet access is growing.
  • There is a project to set up optical fiber for
Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

There are many civil society organisations but theyare weak, as many disadvantaged people in Botswana rely on handouts from the government. In Botswana, the government provides social assistance for elders, orphans and other disadvantaged people.

  • The Ditshwanelo Human Rights Organisation deals with human right issues. They are funded from abroad and are strong in issues supported from overseas (homosexuality, etc.) but weak in addressing minority
  • The Botswana Society for Arts, although it is not very strong, had a few great They have run seminars to encourage businesses to support artists.
  • Gender Links deals with gathering information and advocacy on gender issues and capacity building of NGOs and governmental
  • BOCONGO (Botswana Council of NGOs): umbrella of local
  • BONELA deals with gender discrimination and HIV/AIDS.
  • EMANG BASADI advocates for women
  • Safe Spaces is a pan African women empowerment
  • MASIELA Trust Fund deals with HIV/AIDS
  • BALA (Botswana Association of Local Authorities) It is important to partner with them in order to document initiatives regarding the preservation of culture and
  • YCARE organises about 6 walks every year for (They have raised up to 1 million Pula.)
  • International NGO SOS (Save Our Souls), deals with

Some local organisations are dealing with interesting and polemic issues (“barriers” aspects such as gender, cultural, social, etc.). There is a need to fund documentaries to cover these stories.

Political sensitivities

The society is very conservative. Some issues may be sensitive for the government (e.g. wealth of country versus existing poverty).

Artists have never been an acknowledged part of the destiny of the country. However, in 2005, BTV commissioned 14 documentaries. The one on human rights was not screened.


Potential partners for funding

ADFF is advised to collaborate with local NGOs and ministries and to approach for funding: UN agencies, the European Union and international NGOs.

Film schools, training programmes

Lesotho’s background in media training is poor with the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology offering a diploma certificate in mass communications withnmost of the training done in-house or as short courses organised by groups such as MILES and CM Media.

Training needs are an area to which many in Lesotho are looking for support, in the following areas in particular: script development, production, film appreciation, mentorships and film production exchanges.

Comments from an internet user: “Lesotho background in media training has even become poorer as the media practitioners…are not given enough practices. We are taught to speak under the microphone but not to operate a radio station, we are taught to write news but not to practice this art of writing daily, as there is no school newspaper or any outlet whatsoever.

There is a television station and video cameras which we were only introduced to, and have not had hands on… Lesotho does not take MASS MEDIA SERIOUSLY”.

Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative
  • Limkokwing University of Creative Technology
  • Department of Mass Communication, National University of Lesotho
  • Sesotho Media & Development organised the Lesotho Film Festival for the first time in
  • Smaller film festivals on specific topics are organised by Alliance Française, US Embassy and EU
  • The capital Maseru has been visited by the Golden Lion Film Festival from
Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors
  • No formal professional associations
  • There is a need for a Producers Association to assist local producers to have a stronger position when negotiating with the Government and Lesotho
Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film
  • Lesotho lacks resources to develop a film. Equipment is usually owned by independent producers or brought in from South Africa.
  • Lesotho Television has equipment, although they don’t officially rent
  • The Lesotho Council of Churches produces videos for the international and local
  • MILES (the local chapter of MISA being called Media Institute of Lesotho) is funding the development of the Lesotho video industry, and it operates a video production unit for assisting members with technical support and training skills.
Sales companies, distributors advisory group
  • Sesotho Media & Development shows films through the mobile cinema and at the Resource Centre through its film
  • Lesotho has one Ster Kinekor Cinema at the Pioneer Mall in
Advocacy partners

Lesotho is one of 8 African countries included in the Media Institute of South Africa (MISA). The MISA implores journalists to fulfill the ‘watchdog role,’ stating that they “condemn” any act of violence or intimidation towards journalists. They advise member countries on creating/amending policies in regard to improving media freedom, applauding them as they make progress and critising failures to more forward. They attempt to increase and improve communication between the Government and media policy lobbyists as a part of their efforts to “repeal repressive laws that infringe on media freedom” and “enhance access to information and freedom of expression”. (Gondwe, 2012)

The organisation emphasises that freedom of information should be a right of all citizens not just the media and state, “We will continue to engage governments and relevant stakeholders as we continue to advance an appreciation that the right to freedom of expression is central to democracy and sustainable development”. (Gondwe, 2012)

MISA Lesotho has continued to run the Speak Out and ASK campaigns, which among other things, has led to the tabling before Parliament of the Access and Receipt of Information draft bill of 2000. It is now incumbent upon the national chapter, alongside its cooperating partners, to bring before MPs the necessary amendments to the bill in question. The national chapter is also running the campaign for the transformation of state media into public service broadcasters and has linked up with MPs recognised as sympathetic to the cause of media freedom and freedom of expression to bring on board the necessary amendments to the Lesotho Broadcasting Corporation bill, which the government has tabled before Parliament, but which does not conform to the internationally recognised norms of public service broadcasting such as the African Charter on Broadcasting, the SADC Declaration on ICTs, the SADC Protocol on Culture, Information and Sports, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, as adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, etc.

MISA commissioned an audit of media law in 2002/2003 which identified laws that affected media laws. It brought to attention that Lesotho should have an institutional framework to which the media in the country operates, enhancing professionalism, press freedom and the freedom of expression.

Members of Sesotho Media & Development have been invited to People2People Documentary Conference.

Local filmmakers (Some have been attending film festivals abroad, especially in South Africa.)

Existing documentary and news archives
  • Lesotho Television has its own news
  • Sesotho Media & Development has a library of films produced over the course more than 20


All forms of distribution, including broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.
  • Lesotho has one Ster Kinekor cinema in the capital Maseru.
  • Lesotho has one state-owned TV station, Lesotho TV (LTV). Access to LTV is very For every 1000 people in the country, there are 16 television sets and 53 radios. Next to broadcast local content, the TV station airs BBC news. The television network is available from 11.30 am to 10 pm.
  • There are a few privately-owned television broadcasting services available in The government controls most of its private broadcast media and satellite TV subscription services available. There are 3 television channels available to the viewers in Lesotho: MMDS Network, TBN and Africa Pay TV.
  • Sesotho Media & Development has a mobile cinema and Resource Centre with film
  • Several NGOs have begun to use films in their
Educational and non-profit distributors
  • Sesotho Media & Development (Educational and Non-profit) runs mobile screenings, using both halls and outdoor screening venues.
  • Lesotho Council of Churches owns a mobile video outfit.
Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

The government, which controls mass media, has paid lip service to the adoption of a national media policy for many years. Despite its suspension from 1970- 1986 and being rewritten in 1990, there has been very little change in the key elements of the Constitution. While freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association are proclaimed, Lesotho’s successions of governments have failed to articulate and adopt a national media policy, with one proposal shelved by the Ministry of Communication for years. Changes of governments have also meant that new governments ignore or reverse promises made by their predecessors.

Government’s control of media’s purpose is not only to ensure timely dissemination of government policy, but also censorship. Government and independent journalists have been attacked for reporting certain matters or for being in the wrong place. Government and security forces have successively suppressed free press, and shot, maimed, defamed and fired journalists for reporting anything other than official statements from the government. The media has not been cowed into silence and continues to publish amidst many obstacles and is enjoying some degree of press freedom. But overall, there is a great deal of self-censorship and restraint by government-owned media.

Lesotho is part of a number of independent African media associations, which stipulate rules, codes of conduct and best practice for journalists, and which seek to enhance press freedom.

The Lesotho government, that has committed itself to SADC Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport and Declarations on Information, Communications and Technology and Freedom of Expression, including the African Charter on Broadcasting, which presented to Parliament a draft Lesotho Broadcasting Corporation Bill in 2004.

Though transformation of the state broadcaster seems to be a non-starter, there has been a significant change as far as proliferation of private radio stations is concerned. Between 1993 and 2004 five private and one Christian radio station were opened. The appearance of these radio stations is a result of the enactment of the Lesotho Telecommunications Authority Act of 2000.

The LCA (Lesotho Communications Authority, formerly the Lesotho Telecommunications Authority) is an independent statutory body “with a mandate of regulating the communications sector in Lesotho” (Lesotho Communication Authority Website). In 1999, the LCA successfully ushered in the Lesotho Telecommunications Policy. This was the first major policy that affected the media communications landscape. It was then followed by the ICT policy in 2005 and more recently the communications Act in 2012.

Telecommunications, broadcasting radio frequency and postal services are the sectors that LCA regulate. The statutory body issues licenses to operators, promotes fair competition, approves tariffs, manages the radio frequency spectrum and approves terminal equipment with the objective to empower and protect consumers. LCAs goals are to transform the monopolistic telecommunications market into a competitive one and continue to promote the flow of information to all Basotho, including low-income earners and people in rural areas. The LCA promotes competitive conduct in the telecommunications, broadcasting and postal sectors and reviews mergers involving licenses, as there is no national competition authority. (Wade Publications, 2011)

Basotho were praised as their new coalition Government plans to pass a Media Policy and Access to information Legislation as well as agrees to sign the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration. The Lesotho Government, however, has been critised for being slow in the transition from state to private broadcasting and publicly funding editorial independence.

In the early 2000s the government drafted the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) policy which would encompass a media policy for both electronic and print media. MISA Lesotho expressed apprehension towards the process. MISA cited that the policy concerned itself with just ‘technology’ and did not necessarily account for how the inception of such technologies, strategies, policies and institutional mechanisms would affect freedom of speech or the freedom of access and information. Lesotho adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights wherein any regulatory framework or legislation had to abide by these international instruments which also encroach on the general practice of media. Lesotho’s constitution guarantees fundamental human rights and the freedom of speech but has no specific mention regarding media freedom. It does however suggest that, through a new clause in the constitution that mentions media freedom and the freedom of expression, profits could be obtained. Case law points in other jurisdictions however, highlights this as an inadequacy, being crucial to determinants that involve the freedom of media to publish, obstructing individual freedom of expression.

Currently under the ICT policy Lesotho is working on initiatives to foster the development in the broadcasting sector. These include:

  • Establishment of a clear legal framework for the sector through the Communications Act
  • Corporatisation of the Lesotho National Broadcasting Service
  • Deployment of transmission infrastructure throughout the country
  • Adoption of a transparent, non-discriminatory regime for the regulation of content
  • Promotion of internet-based ‘New Media’ services

There is a lack of protection for journalists.

Lesotho government controls the media to ensure censorship. Government and independent journalists have been attacked due to reporting certain matters or for being in the ‘wrong’ place. The MISA has also reported several physical attacks as well as intimidation of journalists in recent times (Gondwe, 2012). Government and security forces have successively suppressed free press, and shot, maimed, defamed and fired journalists for reporting anything other than official statements from the government.

Journalists or news organisations may appeal to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) through local and foreign communicators during times of media related crises. This could include any act to suppress or intimidate those in the media industry. Crises may involve abduction, physical attacks, censorship, exiling, harassment, murder, unjust imprisonment, legal action, threats or missing persons. CPJ may choose to notify other relevant organisations of such freedom violations, such as government agencies, human rights groups and other news organisations. (CPJ, 2012)

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

Sesotho Media & Development through its mobile cinema and Resource Centre

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

Most of these are not possible or existent in Lesotho.

Study of rights issues for distribution both broadcast and online

This is possible but, as piracy is widespread, it will be necessary to implement, in parallel, a campaign to raise awareness against piracy among the general public and government officials.

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

Piracy is very big in Lesotho. It can be dealt with by proper law enforcement as well as legal distribution channels.

Possible creation of online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others

A dedicated channel is a good idea. However online viewing and downloading is difficult or impossible in Lesotho, due to bad and expensive internet connections.

In 2010, there were approximately 83, 812 internet users in Lesotho, with a population of approximately 2,193,843.

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

With regard to transparency, access to information, although it is a fundamental human right for all Basotho, loopholes in the country’s legal framework on financial management, poor transmission of information and poor coordination of institutions involved in financial management constrain access. In addition to this, Civil Society Organisations and the private sector in Lesotho are weak and hardly have the capacity to engage government on its programmes and intentions.

The civil society of Lesotho is growing and is encouraged to continue interacting with government and development partners for the improvement of other people’s lives, especially those who are hard to reach.

In Lesotho, civil society is still a fledgling sector of society, largely uncoordinated and without a united focus. To date, Civil Society Organisations have focused largely on service-delivery, with some limited advocacy initiatives. However, despite the contributions to poverty alleviation through service delivery, CSOs have received little recognition from government for their role in this regard, and limited financial support. This, compounded with other socio-political factors, has resulted in a current situation of civil society and government operating in relative isolation from each other.

Lesotho’s political conflict is underpinned by structural problems that will continue to impact on the country’s stability for as long as they are not adequately addressed. The problems intersect with sharp internal social and political divisions. The net result, at best, is a seriously fragmented response to the daunting challenges faced by the country. However, Lesotho society is characterised by many active and committed civil society actors. Recently concluded agreements and the preference for civil society actors to act as facilitation agents are encouraging.

AIDS constitutes an alarming threat to Lesotho and its people. Reliable statistics are not available, but estimates put the current national rate of infection at between 25% and 30%. The biggest challenge remains the establishment of national networks and civil society organisations on HIV/AIDS, most importantly among people living with HIV/AIDS and within the NGO network.

Lesotho has a variety of non-governmental organisations working on issues of human rights and related fields (e.g. Lesotho Council of NGOs, Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust, Lesotho National Council of Women, Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA).

There are NGOs working with film, like Sesotho Media and Mantsopa Communications.

The newspaper called “Lesotho” is the only national and government newspaper of the country; there are other kinds of foreign newspapers circulated across Lesotho (Maps of World).

Lesotho newspapers deal with several types of news. They cover all aspects of interest to citizens. Some newspapers also have online editions.

The Public Eye is a print and online newspaper which is circulated in South Africa and Lesotho. According to The Public Eye’s website (2012), its objectives are, among others, to serve as an independent forum for opinion-sharing, to report on development news successes and failures, and to act as a watchdog on government and public institutions.

The Lesotho Times is a newspaper with the tagline, “News without Fear or Favour”. There is also space on the online version for readers to comment and look for employment.

Political sensitivities

Lesotho’s political rights rating declined from 2 to 3 and its status from Free to Partly Free due to unresolved disputes over legislative seats from the 2007 and 2008 elections and a breakdown in internationally mediated negotiations between the government and opposition.

The press’s growth and size are inhibited by Lesotho’s weakened infrastructure, dependence on South Africa (35 percent of male wage-earners work as miners), and a mostly rural population (agriculture caters for 57 percent of the domestic labor force, with 86 percent of the population as subsistence farmers) with a low per-capita income—factors relegating the purchase of newspapers, radios, television and the internet as unaffordable luxuries. The HIV/AIDS prevalence of 23 percent threatens life expectancy, population size and socioeconomic productivity, including media patronage.

Since attaining its independence from Britain in 1966, Lesotho has undergone more than one coup, and has been engulfed in several political mayhems resulting in killings, looting and property destruction involving the press, which is caught in a quagmire adversely affecting its quality and existence.

The attitude toward foreign media is a mixed bag with media associations having international links operating in Lesotho. They are: The National Union of Journalists and the Media Institute of South Africa (MISA, the local chapter being called Media Institute of Lesotho-MILES), News Share Foundation (a journalist cooperative), the Commonwealth Journalists Association, and the Adopt-A-Media Network.

Considering a history of government suppression, shootings and maiming of journalists, the media has not been silenced and continues to publish and enjoy some degree of freedom. However, there exists a persistent threat of an armed conflict with a Lesotho

Defense Force historically involved in domestic politics, and factional infighting in addition to the government feverishly suppressing a free press. Opposition in parliament may strengthen democracy’s weak roots in Lesotho by promoting a favorable press environment. MILES’ steadfast advocacy for constitutional reforms and a self-regulating media-driven body in opposition to government’s media-control legislation holds further promise for an improved free press.


Potential partners for funding

It’s important to note the following: The military coup of 2009 in Madagascar that followed the popular uprising against President Marc Ravalomanana, has led to a political transition impacting heavily on all levels of society. Funding has slowed down because of the political crisis. The island, under pressure from the African Union, SADC and foreign donors to normalise the situation, is more isolated than ever. The authorities of the transition have rescheduled elections a couple of times. For many, the prospect of an improved economic, political and social situation in the near future is bleak.

There is almost no funding available for documentaries in Madagascar.

NGOs and UN agencies commission local producers to produce videos promoting their activities.

The main local initiative to raise funding for documentaries was set up by a collective of filmmakers, responsible for organizing the short film festival Rencontres du Film Court (RFC). They have a fund, called Serasary, to finance short films (fiction, documentary and animation). Thanks to the private fund VIMA, established to fund cultural projects, the French Institute in Madagascar and the American Embassy, they were able to make some productions.

The Ministry of Culture initiated the State-run Tiasary Fund in 2000 to fund film projects. But today, barely able to finance its own operational structure, the Tiasary Fund is not funding any films anymore. The organisation is now mostly focusing on gathering information about the situation of filmmakers in Madagascar and aims in the future to be more an organisation giving support to the industry than a funding organisation. In the meantime, many filmmakers are questioning the functioning and even the existence of the Tiasary Fund.

ADFF could lobby for private companies (telecommunication, banking, mines, etc.), big NGOs (PSI, CRS, etc.), embassies, aid and UN agencies to contribute to funding an independent fund for documentaries.

The organisation will need first to identify professionals to work with that have the capacity to develop funding proposals and look at supporting them on writing proposals. Secondly, ADFF could help identify existing documentary projects and scripts and support the documentary makers to make their projects viable and sustainable.

Other potential sources of funding and partners abroad: Agence Univesitaire Francophone (for the funding of training projects), Agence de la Francophonie, Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Film schools, training programmes

The only possibility for filmmakers today to access training are the workshops during the RFC festival in April.

The University of Antananarivo once had more training on video production but today it gives only a basic overview on film production, at the Department of Mediation and Cultural Expertise.

The French initiative AFRICADOC organised in 2011 a one-week workshop in the coastal town of Tamatave, called DOCOI, where producers received training to develop and present documentary projects. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to pitch their projects to local and international TV stations (CFI, TV5, etc.).

Some question the value of this type of short training. However, the project plans to start, in 2013, a one-year Masters in Cinema in collaboration with the University of Tamatave.

From 2008 to 2010, the Art Mada project, set up with the support of the embassies of France and Switzerland, the production house Rozie Film, and the French Institute in Madagascar, a two-year long training on all the aspects of the production process. The students were selected after submitting a project and were involved in producing a series of short films.

  • Distribute information on what aspiring filmmakers need to master in order to become more professional (e.g. industry standards of the various roles, ).
  • Madagascar ultimately needs a film This could possibly be done through a joint venture with regional universities. The school could be mandated to film and collect cultural materials. The training will focus on practical classes. A bursary could be available for young people with talents. They will have the obligation to be involved after their studies in training projects.
  • Set up of an on-line training
Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative
  • RFC Association, French Institute of
  • The Universities of Antananarivo and Tamatave have expressed interest in being involved with film training (especially through their departments of Sociology, Anthropology and Cultural Management). They have a base of people interested in film, informed about cinema and that have some practice in film production. The teachers also have expertise in analysing projects.

The festival Rencontres du Film Court is organising its 8th edition in April 2013. It showcases short films produced in Madagascar and organises workshops.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

A strong sense of individualism and a focus on short-term financial benefits make it difficult to motivate local filmmakers to mobilize themselves and work together for the advancement of the industry. Many are only interested when they think there is funding available and don’t see the efforts that are necessary to invest in to move on.

  • The Association RFC operates as a collective of filmmakers mobilized around the production of a film project.
  • Individuals providing mentorship: Laza (director of Rozi Films and director and co-founder of RFC), Selven Naidu (managing director of private TV RTA), Richard Bohan (he has been a pioneer in attracting sponsors to fund a TV magazine promoting tourism in Madagascar), Mireille Martin (Grand Angle), Ridha Andriantomanga (Agence Facto), Rianando Ludovic, Michelle Rakotoson, Luck Razanajaona, Alain Rakotoarisoa, Mamihasina Raminosoa (DDC)
  • The CRAAM, a professional resource center, is putting together a catalogue of artists that will be available The project was initiated by an association of former students of the Department of Mediation and Cultural Expertise of the University of Antananarivo.
  • T-MOVIE is an association of filmmakers set up by an employee of the State-run Tiasary Fund, They are interested in training and organise film critic screenings.

The Ministry of Culture has encouraged the creation of a Federation of Malagasy filmmakers in May 2012 to manage a new fund for films. The Federation has now about 17 members but because of lack of funding and the change of the Minister of Culture, the film fund project is not moving. The problem also is that the members are not acting to move the project forward. The problem here is that once an organisation is set up, there is too much focus on the “fund” and little on the efforts necessary to act. This is explained by the context of day-to-day survival many are living.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film

There are no specialised companies renting equipment in Madagascar for film production. Backstage rents equipment for events and has some lights and a homemade dolly with tracks.

The main production houses (Grand Angle, Nyr Image, DDC, etc.) and some individuals have acquired equipment but they are not renting them out.

Sales companies, distributors advisory group
  • Not
  • It was advised to set up a database of distributors abroad to encourage local filmmakers to look for distribution
  • Another idea proposed is to support the dubbing, subtitling and duplication of films.
Advocacy partners
  • The Association RFC, French Institute, embassies, UNDP (this UN agency is responsible for the coordination of the UN actions in the country), Tiasary Fund (although many criticize this organisation, it was advised to look at using it as a key mediator with the government) and TV
  • One needs to look at experiences abroad and see how we can adapt them in the local laws and effectively implement them. Some effective measures exist, particularly in South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, France and

When advocating to the governmental bodies, the focus should be to underline the need of imposing local production and broadcasting quotas to TV stations.

It is also important to raise awareness among officials that film, as an economic product, can benefit from regional and international trade agreements and that it can generate income. The authorities could, by putting in place a series of measures, effectively support film (e.g. marketing to attract foreign productions to film in Madagascar; independent film fund, funded with a special tax from broadcasters, screenings and adverts; tax incentives for private companies investing in film/ TV and advertising, etc.).

ADFF needs to underline repetitively that the State has the political power to change things and does not necessarily need to mobilize money directly from its available budgets.

One of the key actions of the Advocacy Plan will be to motivate authorities for the set up of an independent national fund, a structure that is autonomous enough to take initiatives for the interest of the film industry and ultimately, the country….They can greatly contribute to its success by facilitating the set up of such an organisation.

  • It was highly advised not to use the word fund in the name of the new organisation to support documentaries and also not to put the emphasis on the funding aspect but rather on the support the organisation is looking to The organisation would then be promoted as a facilitator and mediator resource center.
Existing documentary and news archives
  • The Association Flah, funded by the French Institute National des Arts (INA), is digitalizing old film The Tiasary Fund is planning to host and protect these archives.
  • Local TV stations archive their
  • Madagascar has lost some of its valuable archives when during the 2009 political crisis the national TV station TVM was destroyed by a criminally motivated


All forms of distribution, including broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

There are many local private TV stations and one State controlled, TVM. It’s the only one able to broadcast throughout the country. However, as parts of its relay system are damaged, its capacity has been reduced. The private stations are broadcasting mainly in the big cities of the country’s 6 provinces.

Cable TV networks are available (Canal Satellite, TPS, DSTV) from $65 USD per month anywhere in the country.

The TV stations produce and distribute a large amount of local productions that are very popular with audiences. However, local content is competing unfairly with foreign productions as most TV stations broadcast them after copying them freely.

Mobile cinemas run by NGOs (PSI, BelAvenir, etc.) and government bodies are focusing on raising awareness through edu-tainment materials.

Many small video rooms exist throughout the country, in the cities and even in remote places in the countryside. They screen mostly local and foreign movies. Some screen TV programmes from cable TV stations. They are the most cost effective and popular place for people to watch programmes. They form an informal network of distribution channels allowing people throughout the country to have access to local and foreign films. This is particularly important in a country such as Madagascar where the majority of the population lives in the countryside with little access to communication infrastructures.

The French Institute and the network of Alliance Française in the country screen mostly foreign movies and sometimes documentaries.

A few cinemas, screening in video, are still operating in a couple of cities. They show local and foreign movies (mostly Hollywood blockbuster productions) but are generating larger audiences when screening local films (the same happens for the video rooms). Today, the only place showing films regularly in 16 or 35 mm is the French Institute, based in the capital, Antananarivo.

Educational and non-profit distributors
  • PSI has mobile cinemas in all the provinces of the BelAvenir is based in two provinces.
  • The Association RFC
Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

A new Communication Law exists but is confused on many issues and has not yet been voted on. The problem is that very few are knowledgeable about media law and don’t have an interest in supporting the law. The major points of the law regulate more aspects of copyrights and filming authorization, proposing a series of payment rules when distributing and filming film.

In 2006, the Ministry of Communication invited professionals in film/TV to give feedback on the new communication law.

Some insisted on the need to encourage and support local production and distribution (e.g. local quota for TV stations, film/TV fund, obligation for foreign productions to have trainees, etc.).

The head of the Media Regulation Department also received information on the French funding agency CNC and the Gauteng Film Office in South Africa.

One reason for the delay in voting on the law is the commercial interest that many people in politics have in the TV sector (all private TV channels are screening the latest foreign films and TV programmes without any authorization).

The Copyright law is still under discussion. The government will need to put in place measures to effectively apply the law, in particular to forbid the screening of foreign films and programmes without appropriate licensing. It is only in that way that local TV stations will be motivated to buy local content.

The local author’s organisation OMDA, although it is officially at war against piracy, receives a screening fee from video rooms to authorize them to screen foreign films.

A censorship law exists that forbids any representation against the Malagasy culture (pornography, bloody subject-pictures, etc.).

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

RFC and the French Institute use print materials (flyers, catalogues, posters and banners), mailing lists and a website to inform the public about their screenings.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

TV stations are not commissioning documentaries.

Filmmakers need to find advertisers and to agree with broadcasters about how to share the revenues with them. However, there is very little sponsorship available for documentaries.

The mobile telephone company Orange had a fund for films before, but it has been closed. The bank Société Générale supports cultural projects but needs to be convinced about funding films.

Some individuals are selling footage to news agencies but are very discreet about it.

There is a need to inform filmmakers about funding opportunities, locally and abroad. That could be done by building a database of potential funders and making it available online and in booklets.

There is a need to support platforms to introduce local producers to TV stations and potential funders.

TV stations could be approached with arguments to motivate them to commission documentaries. As mass media, licensing documentaries is indeed in their interest: the documentaries are appealing for their audience, can help them to increase audience, etc.

During the workshop organised by AFRICADOC, the private TV station RTA has agreed to screen documentaries but without agreeing to pay the filmmakers.

Study of rights issues for distribution both broadcast and online

Considering the prevailing piracy practices and lack of application of law on copyrights, there is a major risk that the productions will be copied and possibly sold on the street…. However, one could look at this informal distribution channel as an extra distribution channel to motivate sponsors to contribute funding to the productions….This means that ADFF will “give away” the right to copy and duplicate the productions from the online platform. This is perhaps an innovative way to look at the issue but needs to be studied as another possible strategy to deal effectively with piracy….

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

Any DVD distribution using retail stores or street vendors will need to sell the DVD at a competitive price, close or below the one for a pirated DVD.

A success model to look at for fighting piracy is the initiative of some filmmakers using their main actors when launching their new films (e.g. Malok’ila, a commercial film series of 12 episodes from Scoop Digital). During their promotional campaigns throughout the country, they raise awareness against piracy, encouraging people to buy the original DVD of their film. In doing so, they say to their public, they are “supporting Malagasy Cinema”. It works, as they have seen a major increase in their sales.

Documentary makers could use a similar approach. The filmmakers could, for instance, spread the same messages to the population after screening extracts of their film in community halls, markets, schools, cinemas, etc.

Possible creation of online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others

What will ultimately motivate documentary makers to send their productions for online exploitation is the financial income they can expect. ADFF will need to look at responding to this concern if marketing an online service.

Madagascar has about 20,000 internet users. Most use the internet if they have access to it at work and go to cyber cafes only for emergency reasons. Access to internet is still prohibitive for many in the country and the quality is not stable, despite the marketing of fast internet options by local operators.

ADFF could support the set up of high-speed internet hubs where people could download and view videos. Some private companies and NGOs could partner to support this project (e.g. Microsoft, Apple, etc. could offer refurbished computers).

To facilitate the download and viewing for the public, the productions will need to be adapted for internet platforms (e.g. production of short film series).

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

The problem faced by many local associations is that because of lack of funding, they are obliged to focus their activities on priorities imposed by foreign aid organisations. Many are set up only to benefit available funding at a certain time and close down once the funding is finished.

Some individuals or production companies are working with NGOs or UN agencies to produce documentaries for their activities (e.g. people living with disabilities, children’s rights, youth education, health and environmental issues, etc.).

They are often confronted with a big frustrations when producing these videos as the treatment and messages are dictated by the main objective of promoting their client’s activities.

  • Some potential partners: Friedrich Ebert Foundation (this organisation focuses on youth leadership); SeFaFi (Observatoire de la vie publique)
Political sensitivities

ADFF needs to give special attention to the sensitive political, social and economic situation in Madagascar. The political crisis the country is going through requires being particularly well informed about the ongoing stage of the transition and the relevant parties to involve and be involved with. The best way to act will be ultimately informed by a thorough consultation and serious buy-in of local partners.

The problem in Madagascar with State-funded projects is that they are too influenced by an unstable and moving political situation. Too often, once the political figure supporting a project has moved, or been removed, it slows to a standstill, and if funds are made available, they are redirected elsewhere. There is also pressure for filmmakers to join the political party if they want to benefit from funding or support and hence their projects become too politically influenced.

This situation creates fear among filmmakers (as well as officials in governmental bodies) and can make them reluctant to take initiatives with anything involving the authorities.


Potential partners for funding

Possible partners are:

  • Embassy of the United States of America
  • Embassy of Finland
  • Embassy of Germany
  • Embassy of Iceland
  • Embassy of Japan
  • European Union
  • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)
Film schools, training programmes

There is no film school.

Thanks to the Malawi International Film Festival’s initiative at least 3 professional trainings have been offered to producers, directors, writers, editors and cinematographers.

Currently, there are other professional trainings in the same areas by American filmmakers through the American Embassy and the Film Association of Malawi (FAMA).

Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative

All colleges under the University of Malawi would be interested but too much bureaucracy could deter the efforts.

  • Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ)
  • It’s advised to set up an independent school to be linked to the University for Media and
  • The Malawi International Film Festival was established in
  • There is another film festival called Malawi Film Festival (MAFF) that is currently running in the capital Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba.
Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

There is the Malawi Film Makers Association (FAMA) formed in 2011 but it’s still in its infant stage despite having a series of projects in development.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film
  • Film production companies: First Wave Pictures, Extra Solutions, Hub Media Group, Atlas Productions, Kings Multimedia Productions, Go- Bright Media, Falcons Multimedia Consultants
  • Local TV stations are well equipped: the State run MBC TV, the Catholic Church’s Luntha TV and two Pentecostal Church TV stations named Calvary TV and AFJ
  • The NGO Story Workshop also has
Sales companies, distributors advisory group

There are none. Not many people are knowledgeable about distribution.

Advocacy partners
  • There sre none, but they could exist if given
  • MBC TV and media consultants could play a major advocacy role in creating awareness campaigns if
  • Some institutions could be associated in the advocacy efforts g. FAMA, Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Communication, Centre for Health and Development Communication, Department of Journalism of the Polytechnic, etc.
Existing documentary and news archives
  • The Film Unit under The Ministry of Information is the main place and hosts governmental archives of various
  • Television Malawi (TVM) has its own archive but it’s considered very
  • Some video production houses have built an in- house archive g. EG Atlas Productions, King Multimedia, First Wave, The Hub media group, Extra Solutions.
  • FAMA is in the process of setting up an


All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

Only through show room clubs in townships, cinema (for people with high incomes because it’s expensive), and broadcast via TVM (but very biased and with less viewership). TVM has an extremely limited broadcast range and offers only two channels.

The issuance of new TV licenses has provided an opportunity to create a wider viewership.

Educational and non-profit distributors

The Film Unit of the Ministry of Information, the Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Communication and the Auditorium of the US Embassy in Malawi are well known for non-profit showcasing of documentaries.

The Film Association of Malawi (FAMA) is in the process of setting up a non-profit distribution project.

Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

There are no specific laws for documentary production. These are encompassed within all media outlets. Other media laws fall within the Constitution.

There is a censorship board that looks into this but they need to be given direction, as they are not fully aware of how to go about it.

There is broadcasting and filming law within the Censorship Act which protects the rights of ownership for creative works but also ensures that only culturally and morally acceptable video materials are being produced and are available on the market.

The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) wields powers over Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Malawi Television, community broadcasters, school broadcasters, private compsnies and individuals engaged in broadcasting. MACRA forbids community and school broadcasters from broadcasting news bulletins.

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

There is a lack of funding for these activities.

Previously it has been through TV advert, news publications and print (posters and banners) and through mailing lists of embassies and participating partners.

FAMA is in the process of setting up an audience cultivation project.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

The only existing revenue is through sponsorship.

Currently, big organisations (e.g. UN agencies, OXFAM, World Vision, etc.) and governmental bodies pay private producers to produce documentaries.

There’s no culture of outsourcing at the TVM. But maybe this may change with the recent issuing of a number of TV licenses’ to independent broadcasters.

However, today, local TV stations are only willing to broadcast private documentaries for free or if the producers are ready to buy airtime for showcasing their materials.

Study of rights issues for distribution both broadcast and online

It is possible to do this through the Censorship Board.

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

The long-term plan is to strengthen the Copyright Society of Malawi to give it enough teeth to bite. So far there have been commendable efforts by the association in protecting the rights of local productions.

Possible creation of online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others

This can help documentaries produced in Malawi to develop by putting them on the map.

The internet has only recently made its way into Malawi. Currently, there are a handful of service providers offering internet access in the three main cities (Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu). Because most people living outside of the cities do not have phones in their homes, most do not have internet access in their homes, either.

Internet access is limited by high cost and lack of infrastructure. However, Wireless Internet application is easing access to the internet and internet access is growing.

According to International Telecommunications Union statistics for 2009, approximately 4.7 percent of the country’s inhabitants used the internet.

There is little or no internet censorship in Malawi. The law prohibits the publication or transmission of anything “that could be useful to the enemy”, as well as religiously offensive and obscene material.

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

Sixty five percent of the Malawian population lives below the poverty line of US$1 a day. The economy remains one of the poorest in the world – ranked 165 out of 177 countries in terms of human development.

Eighty-six percent of Malawians, most of whom are poor, live in rural areas and have no direct linkages with the government, parliament and other government mechanisms.

Pressure groups and civil society organisations (especially churches) led an uprising in the early 1990s to call for the introduction of multiparty democracy in the country. In 1994 Malawians voted into office their first democratic, multi party government. The birth of this democracy saw a proliferation of civil society organisations in the country. Participation of civil society organisations in the running of government affairs has become necessary for the promotion of accountable and transparent government and policy processes that benefit the poor and excluded.

Civil society organisations in Malawi continue to be vocal on national political issues.

Various organisations use videos as a tool mainly to promote the activities they are involved in (e.g. HIV/ AIDS, farming and civic education issues).

Possible partners are:
  • Pakachere Institute, an NGO specializing in Health Communication with a major focus on fighting HIV/AIDS through radio and TV programmes
  • Story Workshop, an NGO specially designed to produce programmes aimed at scaling down Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV/ AIDS
  • National AIDS Commission
  • Women and Law society
  • Malawi International Film Festival
  • Malawi Film Festival (MAFF)
  • Film Association of Malawi (FAMA)
  • Macfest (arts festival initiated by the government)
  • Embassy of the United States of America
  • Embassy of Finland
  • Embassy of Germany
  • Embassy of Iceland
  • Embassy of Japan
  • European Union
  • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)
Political sensitivities

Malawi is among the world’s least-developed countries. The economy is heavily based on agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent.

As of 2010, international observers noted issues in several human rights areas. Excessive force was seen to be used by police forces, security forces were able to act with impunity, mob violence was occasionally seen, and prison conditions continued to be harsh and sometimes life threatening. However, the government was seen to make some effort to prosecute security forces who used excessive force. Other legal issues included limits on free speech and freedom of the press, lengthy pretrial detentions, and arbitrary arrests and detentions. Societal issues include violence against women, human trafficking and child labor. Corruption within the government is seen as a major issue, despite the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau’s (ACB) attempts to reduce it. The ACB appears to be successful at finding and prosecuting low-level corruption, but higher- level officials appear to be able to act with impunity. Corruption within security forces is also an issue.

As of 2010, homosexuality was illegal in Malawi, and in one recent case, a couple perceived as homosexual faced extensive jail time when convicted. The convicted pair, sentenced to the maximum of 14 years of hard labor each, were pardoned two weeks later following the intervention of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In May 2012, President Joyce Banda pledged to repeal laws criminalising homosexuality.

Considering the prevailing corruption among political officials, caution has to be exercised to ensure that politicians are not involved in the allocation of funding so as to avoid the ADFF turning into a political tool.

The Malawi constitution does guarantee freedom of the press and speech. Therefore as long as a film production does not violate any rights, it is in line with the fundamental principles of the constitution.

Any documentary film touching on homosexuality issues is quite sensitive. But that does not mean it can’t be addressed while at the same time taking into consideration local sensitivities.


Potential partners for funding
  • The Board of Investment (government agency for foreign investment) has set up a pilot programme to support film development on a tax rebate basis. So far only big international productions willing to come to Mauritius are benefiting from this scheme but it may change in the near
  • The French Cultural Institute (Institut Français de Maurice) is also active in supporting short documentaries.
  • The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)
  • The Mauritius Film Development Corporation was created to stimulate the interest of film makers and encourage the setting up of a film industry in Mauritius.
Film schools, training programmes

There are no film schools in Mauritius.

Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative

In 2012, a new regional workshop for documentary filmmakers was organised in Madagascar, called DOC- OI, by Africadoc/Ardeche Images. The workshop brought representatives of local and international TV stations (CFI, TV5) to meet documentary makers.


Since 2007 the festival Ile Courts has screened short films (documentaries and dramas) and organised training workshops. The organisers are l’Institut Français and Porteurs d’Images, a local filmmakers’ association.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors
  • Gopalen Parthiben Chellapermal – Wild Square Production
  • David Constantin – Caméléon Production
  • Barlen Pyamootoo (Director of the feature film “Benares”)
  • Jerome Valin – Digital Island
  • Media Equipment Rental
Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film
  • Media Rentals Mauritius
  • DB Vision
Sales companies, distributors advisory group

There are no sales companies.

Porteurs d’Images is setting up a website for the distribution of local productions to film festivals.

There are music distribution companies but they are limited to the distribution of local music for Mauritius.

Advocacy partners
  • Association Porteurs d’Images
  • Arterial Network (newly established)
  • The Board of Investment and MBC
  • Transparency Mauritius (affiliated to Transparency International)
Existing documentary and news archives
  • The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has an archive for its own
  • Ministry of Information


All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is the national public television and radio broadcaster. It broadcasts programming in French, English, Hindi, Creole and Chinese. The MBC derives its income mainly from license fees and advertising. A monthly license fee is payable by all domestic electricity consumers possessing a TV set – this accounts for 60% of its total income. Advertisement on Radio and TV contributes to about 35% of its income.

The Corporation also ensures broadcast on both Radio and TV of educational programmes devised and produced by the Mauritius College of the Air.

Live Broadcast (Radio and TV) of local events are carried out on regular basis.

News bulletins including local and foreign items are broadcast daily at specific times.

A project for a 24-hour rolling news station is under way and will provide an interactive platform for local, regional and international news.

Other television broadcasters include CanalSat, Parabole Maurice, London Satellite Systems and DSTV.

Documentaries are mainly broadcasted on foreign channels. Locally:

  • Public screenings organised by film producers/ directors
  • Festival Ile Courts
  • Institut Français de Maurice
  • Occasionally on MBC
  • International
  • Internet
  • Film Festivals
Educational and non-profit distributors
  • There is one association “Ledikasyion pou Travayer” which organises public screenings every
  • L’Atelier Littéraire Ltée also has a monthly Cine
  • The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) organises screenings on bio diversity
Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

There is no official legal framework specific to documentary production.

There is no official censorship as such but artists in general can, from time to time, be pressured by religious groups when their work concerns issues related to religions or cultural heritage. The government is not very clear on its stand regarding this type of pressure.

A general film framework is in preparation but not yet in force.

Copyrights are protected under the Copyright Act of 1997. The institution responsible is The Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA).

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

The organisers of the Ile Courts Festival has been, over the years, cultivating a strategy to develop a filmgoing culture by organising film screenings in different parts of the island. The response is encouraging.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

There is very low revenue from filmmaking.

Main revenues are from sponsorship or licensing when the film is sold to an international channel.

The local TV station MBC does not buy local content. However, after months of negotiations, the MBC has recently bought the rights to broadcast 15 short fiction films produced by Porteurs d’Images in the context of the Ile Courts Festival for the past 5 years.

The support of international institutions is essential: this can be done through the development of partnership programmes between Mauritian and international institutions/organisations. If there is an international recognition for Mauritian production, the authorities will surely be interested in local productions.

Study of rights issues for distribution both broadcast and online (Can we secure online rights across ‘territories’?)

This could be done through the MASA (Mauritius Society of Authors) and the Ministry of Arts and Culture. A “Memorandum of Understanding” underlying a bilateral agreement could be signed between those having the rights and these two Mauritian partners and also maybe the MBC, that will be responsible for broadcast on the territory.

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

Piracy is a real issue in Mauritius, as video outlets do not respect the law and are tolerated by the authorities.

The law is there and the authorities should apply the law and be stricter. More power should be given to the local Author’s Association and there must be a real will from the authorities to deal with the problem.

More severe penalties should be applied, like prison for those who do not respect anti-piracy laws.

The authorities could reinstate and give more power to the “Brigade des jeux et anti-piratage” (the police unit which was responsible for gaming and piracy).

There is also a need to develop an awareness programme around anti-piracy.

Possible creation of online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others

It would be a good idea, as most Mauritians don’t have access to films other than mainstream Hollywood/ Bollywood films and TV series. An online channel would give them access to a broader range of films, especially for younger generations.

  • Porteurs d’Images is currently working on this.
  • Since 1995, the island has been able to connect to the world through the internet. Mauritius wants to be known as Cyber Island! But the country is quite far from this as ADSL internet access is still expensive and sometimes Now there are over 10,000 users of internet in Mauritius.
Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

Mauritius has a long history of civil society engagement in social, economic, cultural and political spheres, dating from the nineteenth century. Currently, 6000 voluntary organisations are registered with the Registrar of Associations, most of which are Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), with 300 organisations corresponding to the characteristics of an NGO. It must be noted that most of these CBOs are ethnic- or special interest-based, with very few of them oriented towards development work.

As regards elections, Mauritius’ well-entrenched tradition of regularly held multiparty elections as well as high voter turnout at each election has allowed it to stay off the radar of civil society concern.

Civil society has also been quite active and vocal in areas pertaining to political party funding and electoral reform. In 2008, Transparency Mauritius (affiliated to Transparency International) started an information and dialogue campaign to get political parties and corporate bodies to be more transparent and accountable when it comes to money received and given.

More and more NGOs are now using video as a tool for awareness. But the problem is that there is not much funding for these types of projects. Most NGOs are funded through the CSR Fund (controlled by a governmental institution) and film production is not funded by CSR funds.

Political sensitivities

Being dependent on sugar production since its independence, Mauritius has since developed to a diversified economy with important pillars in financial services, business process outsourcing, tourism and information technology. Mauritius is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank.

It has been ranked as the best governed country in all of Africa, five years in a row, finishing on top of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. According to the Democracy Index, Mauritius is the only African country with “full” democracy.

The judiciary is independent, and trials are fair. The legal system is generally non-discriminatory and transparent. Expropriation is unlikely. Enforcement of laws regarding intellectual property rights is relatively effective. The Independent Commission Against Corruption investigates offenses and can confiscate the proceeds of corruption and money laundering. Mauritius is one of Africa’s least corrupt countries.

Mauritius has often been presented to the rest of the world as a success story not only because of its good economic performance but also because of its interracial peace and harmony. However, some critics point out that Mauritian civil society is not sufficiently united and its democracy is stagnating. For some also the “melting pot is now a boiling pot”. The truth is, as one observer has noted: “This is a society that has come out of the grindstone of history and emerged with a plethora of ethnicities, cultures, traditions, and religions. This mélange of identities is a source of pride on the one hand and a tipping point of tensions on the other”.


Film schools, training programmes

No film school exists in Namibia. The Media and Television Studios (MATS) department of the Katutura Community and Arts Centre (KCAC), with funding from the government, provides basic training in media related TV productions.

The state-owned national broadcaster Namibian Broadcasting Company (NBC), due to its nature, also functions as a training facility.

Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative

The Media and Journalism Departments of University of Namibia (UNAM) and Polytechnic of Namibia could be interested in such an initiative.


In Namibia there is no film festival. A few years back there was the Wildcinema Film Festival, which ceased to exist due to lack of funding and willingness of stakeholders to provide adequate resources and infrastructure to festival’s organisers.

In 2010, the Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN) held, in cooperation with the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN), and with co-funding provided by the Namibian Film Commission (NFC), the Namibian Film and Theatre Awards. Preceding the awards evening a two week long Namibian film festival was hosted, showcasing Namibian film product from the last two years. As then vice chairperson of FAN, Hans- Christian Mahnke was responsible for organizing the festival and the awards evening.

Due to the fact that the theatre only hosts an awards evening every two years, FAN has decided to continue cooperating with NTN, and hence organise a bi-annual awards ceremony.

In May 2012, a so-called Namibian Film Week was organised, with initial funding coming again from the NFC. This film week, consisting of workshops and panel discussions, focused on industry related questions such as funding/finances, distribution, copyright, etc.

In 2011 a student at the University of Namibia (UNAM) organised an Amateur Film Festival, focusing on works by film students in Namibia. This festival was part of project carried out as part of his final exams for his studies at the Media department of UNAM.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

The only professional civil society body in Namibia representing all aspects of filmmaking is the Namibian Filmmakers Association (FAN). Furthermore there is an artist union called Oruuano.

There is a governmental body which is involved in funding film projects in Namibia, the Namibian Film Commission (NFC). Their mandate is also to control foreign film productions shooting in Namibia and assist with visa, customs, etc.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film

Various private production companies rent out their equipment to other filmmakers and productions.

Sales companies, distributors advisory group

Currently there are no commercial distributors operating in Namibia. The sole distributor body/agency is a project called the Namibian Movie Collection (NMC), a non commercial project with a mandate to collect, archive, store and rent out Namibian film products. The NMC is mainly presented at the multimedia library of the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) in Windhoek. There are a few other institutions in and outside Namibia which have purchased a copy of the NMC and have made it accessible for other audiences.

The NMC is run by AfricAvenir, FNCC, and Joe Vision Productions. See more

Advocacy partners

The only professional civil society body in Namibia representing all aspects of filmmaking is the Namibian Filmmakers Association (FAN). Hence FAN is also a lobby body for the genre of documentary films.

Existing documentary and news archives

The Namibian Movie Collection (NMC) is the sole place where Namibian film products are being stored, rented out, marketed, and distributed non-commercially. The NMC also includes documentary films. See: movie-collection.html

The National Archives of Namibia has some canisters and other archival materials stored at their facilities. But these films, including documentaries, are not properly accessible to the public, nor to professionals, due to the lack of maintenance and technical equipment to view the material, and incorrect labeling on the cassettes, boxes, etc. Nevertheless the National Archives wants to make this material accessible.

The national broadcaster NBC also has its own productions in their archives.


All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

Some documentaries make it on the local TV stations: the national broadcaster NBC or the sole commercial TV station in Namibia, One Africa TV.

The organisers of the NMC have distributed some documentaries to Cape Town TV, a community TV station in the Cape region, South Africa.

Furthermore SABC has shown interest in purchasing selected films, including documentaries from the NMC.

Educational and non-profit distributors

AfricAvenir, FNCC, and Joe Vision Productions distribute the NMC on an adhoc and non-commercial basis. The NMC includes documentaries.

Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

None existing.

Nevertheless, NBC will censor itself and also content they would and could purchase, if the topic addressed is sensitive and, or not in line with, government policies.

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

AfricAvenir has been successfully hosting bi-monthly and monthly film screenings of African films in the Namibian capital for over 6 years. The project is called “African Perspectives”. The screening series focuses on feature and documentary films.

One aim of the series is to create a screening culture in Namibia, and hence create a market for Namibian film.

AfricAvenir is in negotiations with individuals and companies in Swakopmund (coast) and Ondangwa (Northern Namibia) and is planning screening activities there. Furthermore AfricAvenir has handed in a proposal to the Ministry of Safety and Security (including correctional services) to start screening Namibian and other African films to prison inmates.

The cultural centres of the French (FNCC), Germans (Goethe Institute), and Americans (American Cultural Centre) are occasionally hosting film screenings in Windhoek. The FNCC has done so also at the coastal town of Swakopmund.

Unsystematic film screenings are being organised by individuals in Windhoek and across the country, mostly by filmmakers in order to promote their products.

The NFC is currently planning to purchase screening equipment in order to promote screenings and screening culture outside the Namibian capital.

Certain institutions (governmental and non- governmental) have produced films in order to address single issues (like HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, environment, climate change, etc.). These films then are showcased on NBC, and at the respective interest groups.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

Some documentaries are produced by NBC. These films are shown on NBC. Some others are funded and produced by NGOs, ministries, and international donors. It seems no real revenue

strategies are in place and that the aim is merely advocacy for the issues addressed.

Nevertheless, the NFC gave 300.000 N$ in 2011 for a documentary project and in 2012 they made a call for proposals for a documentary again.

Some projects by filmmakers are aiming for investment returns, since they got private enterprise support or funded the film themselves. See for example Nr. 17 of the NMC, “100 years of Etosha”, and Nr. 44, “Born in Etosha part 1 & 2”.

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners
  • Goethe Institute Johannesburg, Legal Assistance Centre, OYO, AfricAvenir, FAN, and others.


Potential partners for funding

The National Film and Video Fund (NFVF) is the key organisation in South Africa to support the documentary film industry. It provides funding in development-production of documentaries, training and marketing-distribution. Funding may take the form of a grant, investment or loan depending on the type of application and project. The NFVF has adopted a recoupment policy on documentary production funding. This is to ensure that there is a return on NFVF funded projects in order to ensure funding availability for future projects.

The organisation has run out of funding in the past but, according to some sources, this is mainly due to fact that their operational costs are very high. A number of activities they have been involved with have been negatively affected by this.

Many producers express frustration in dealing with NFVF. Their criticisms are generally about the selection process and co-production deals that are considered unfair.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has a rebate scheme for local and foreign productions. The incentive for documentaries is available only to South African productions with a total production budget of R2,5 million and above.

Provincial film commissions also exist to support the film industry. The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC), based in Johannesburg, is funding documentary projects generally for marketing-distribution but in some cases, also for postproduction.

TV stations and news agencies: SABC, eTV News, Mnet, Top TV (a new cable network), CNN, BBC Africa, Reuters, Associated Press, etc. South Africa is used as a base to operate in Africa by big international TV stations and news agencies.

Private companies (mobile technologies, mines, banks, etc. e.g. MTN, Vodacom, Coca Cola, Microsoft, etc.) could be approached to fund documentary projects as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities

CSR refers to the generally voluntary involvement, or investment, of companies in social projects that help advance the society/the community in which they operate in areas such as health care, housing, education, safety, and the environment, among others.

According to research, not all CSR efforts in South Africa result from voluntary or indirect business decisions; some of them are the product of corporate compliance with the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) legislation. The BEE Act forces South African- based companies to consider all stakeholders when performing their internal and external operations in an effort to eradicate social and economic inequalities inherited from the Apartheid days and to help previously discriminated groups to actively participate in the country’s economy. Companies that refrain from complying with the BEE scorecard can obtain negative ratings, therefore complicating their ability to operate in the country.

Parastatal companies: the South African government has initiated several organisations to support its empowerment programme. The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) for instance is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry responsible to support small entrepreneurs.

  • Institutions: Goethe-Institute (has funded Mokolo, an African online film/TV platform for exchange and distribution), National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (has supported film festivals), the Thomson Reuters Foundation (offering fellowships for multimedia training), Commonwealth Foundation, etc.
  • UN organisations (UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, ILO),
  • Embassies and aid agencies (EU, USAID, )
  • Local and International NGOs: OSISA, MISA, Lovelife, Soul City, Nelson Mandela Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children Fund, Word Vision, PSI, etc. Many of the local organisations have extended their activities outside of the
Film schools, training programmes

South Africa has several film schools with comprehensive 3-year classes on film/documentary production (Big Fish, AFDA, City Varsity, etc.). The country is an effective regional training basis for the neighboring countries as their fees are more affordable.

Some universities and high schools offer classes on video production (WITS University, Rhodes University, Natal Technikon, etc.).

Local film festivals and funding organisations offer workshops and master classes on documentary production (Talent Campus at DIFF, NFVF, etc.).

Natives Foundation, led by Ramadan Suleman and Neville Josie, is currently initiating an innovative 3-year training programme aiming to train 50 South African female film/TV graduates in the production of documentaries. The students will receive a total of 4 months training during each year and create everything from a series of short documentaries to individual feature documentaries. They hope to start in 2013, thanks to funding from the NFVF.


The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is the oldest and largest festival in Southern Africa and presents over 250 screenings.

The DIFF co-hosts the Durban FilmMart, in partnership with the Durban Film Office and since 2008 runs the Talent Campus Durban in co-operation with the Berlin Talent Campus of the Berlin International Film Festival.

The Durban FilmMart Finance Forum provides selected African filmmakers with the opportunity to pitch film projects to financiers.

The Tri Continental Film Festival (TCFF) is an annual, national festival that focuses on documentary and narrative films from or about Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East. The overall objective of the Festival is to showcase cinema that deals with socio/political and human rights themes pertinent to these regions.

Encounters South African International Documentary Festival: in addition to the screening of documentaries in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the festival also organises seminars and master classes. The festival is dedicated to distributing documentaries to the South African public. Encounters makes sales of films to television, theatrically and on DVD.

The Bioscope is an innovative independent cinema located in downtown Johannesburg. The aim of the project is to increase the diversity of content on South African cinema screens. The cinema has been involved in screening films for local festivals and has also organised small thematic festivals.

Women Of the Sun (WoS) is a member based non-profit support and advocacy organisation for women filmmakers. The organisation is project driven and works to showcase and celebrate skills and achievements of African women filmmakers and create networking platforms where they can share their expertise. The association organises a WoS Film Festival (WoSFF) and has started also an outreach programme, taking some of the latest festival films to South African provinces.

The First Wednesday Film Club (FWFC) at the Atlas Studios, in Johannesburg, showcases films and documentaries on every first Wednesday of the month. Initially the target group was professionals in the film and TV industries, but over time the film club has grown to reach a broader group of film lovers.

The FWFC exposes and explores different countries and themes. The films are followed by vibrant and interesting discussions and Q&A sessions with attending filmmakers.

The Golden Lion Film Festival in Swaziland organises screening in South Africa.

Many thematic screenings are also organised throughout the countries by local filmmakers, cultural and community centers and NGOs.

Basic Lead, the Los Angeles based organisers of the annual DISCOP Africa television content market and co-production forum, launched the 7th annual edition of DISCOP Africa at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on October 31, 2012. The idea behind the market is to facilitate business between buyers and sellers of audiovisual content. In additional there are informative training sessions such as DISCOPRO (a co-production seminar) as well as social networking events during and outside of business hours of the three-day event.

The 2012 edition of DISCOP Africa welcomed the largest contingent of prominent African content distributors ever available under one roof to sell content “Made In Africa”, including amongst others, A24 Media, Africa Avenir, Cote Ouest, eTV, Endemol South Africa, M-Net, Kenya Film Commission, Modern African Productions, Multimesh, Nollywood Worldwide Entertainment, OH Africa, Royal Roots, Rapid Blue, SABC, Top TV, Underdog Productions and Wananchi Programming Group.

A co-production forum and an eclectic conference programme dedicated to regional and international partnerships has provided them with opportunities to sell content, initiate partnerships, access valuable information, connect with key players and learn from experts.

“One of the main drivers of the content business in Africa will be local programming. There will be a shift to regional co-production and distribution models as non-African content will play a lesser role in the years to come”, said Patrick Jucaud-Zuchowicki, general manager of Basic Lead. He added, “In such a context, we see it as our role to reinforce DISCOP Africa’s relevance as a marketplace for independent content producers from the region seeking to forge cross-border relationships. Special efforts have also been deployed

to attract non-African television content acquisitions executives interested in the increasing range of good quality content and formats created in Africa”.

Along with the content market, the first edition of TV Loves Africa has included forums focused on sports and news programming, as well as a pitching and co-production session for documentaries and scripted formats. According to Jucaud-Zuchowicki, the special focus on sports will highlight an area where African content producers have the potential to create programming that traditionally does well in the international market.

Basic Lead announced record-breaking attendance for the 7th annual edition of the television content market and co-production forum in Johannesburg.

“With 2.5 times more participants year-on-year, all of them busy throughout the 3-day programme, we can conclude that Africa has now become the world’s fastest growing digital entertainment marketplace”, said Patrick Jucaud-Zuchowicki, General Manager of Basic Lead. He added, “The consensus amongst veteran distributors was that 90% of Africa’s key content buyers were at the market and that sales were significantly stronger than ever before”.

The company has decided to set up an office in South Africa and is looking in the future to facilitate business between filmmakers and potential funders through organising special fundraising screenings. It also aims at facilitating the set up of effective distribution channels and the signature of African co-production deals.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

The South African Screen Federation (SASFED) is a federation of independent film, television and audiovisual content industry organisations, and was constituted in March 2006.

SASFED is currently the umbrella organisation of eight industry organisations: DFA (The Documentary Filmmakers Association), IPO (The Independent Producers Organisation), OSCA SA (The Official South African Casting Association), PMA (The Personal Managers’ Association), SAGA (South African Guild of Actors), SAGE (South African Guild of Editors), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) and WOS (Women of the Sun).

SASFED is the official country representative to FEPACI, the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers and is formally affiliated with SOS: Supporting Public Broadcasting and, the TVIEC – Television Industry Emergency Coalition. SASFED’s core Programmes are: Advocacy, Capacity Development, Local Communication, Stakeholder Relations, Marketing, Professional Development, Research and Risk Development.

The Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) aims at campaigning for the rights and interests of the independent film and television production industry. The organisation has been able to mobilize its members for action. However, despite its strong representation, the organisation has not been able to make major achievements and the need for stronger actions is felt.

The Documentary Filmmakers Association (DFA) was established to nurture and develop the interests of documentary filmmakers in South Africa. DFA members gain access to a network of related industry bodies and other aspiring and established documentary filmmakers. The DFA also acts on behalf of and in the interest of documentary filmmakers as a collective. Several suppliers offer discounts and benefits to DFA Members.

DFA has sent a delegation of South African documentary makers to attend the 2012 Hot Docs festival in Canada. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Film and Video Association (NFVF) supported this initiative.

The Black Filmmakers’ Network. One of the main objectives of this association is to become a key player in the transformation of the film/TV industry and protect the interest of black filmmakers.

The Writers’ Guild of South Africa ( WGSA). The association aims at assisting, protecting & promoting scriptwriters.

The People To People (P2P) International Documentary Conference is a bi-annual event that aims to bring people and organisations together to strengthen the role and the scope of documentary film in Africa. Following the success of the Conference 2011 edition, P2P has launched an online platform using Facebook to share and exchange on documentary productions.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film

South Africa hosts many equipment facility houses (The Cameraman, Digital Film, Visual Impact, etc.). The competition between them, and also the fact that many production houses and individuals have acquired their own equipment, make it difficult sometimes for them to sustain themselves financially.

Digital Film is supporting film productions by providing them free equipment as a new approach to create locality among its clients. However, this happens on a case-by-case basis.

Professionals in South Africa can count on technical support companies to maintain their equipment.

They can also easily buy equipment from specialised audiovisual sales  companies (Visual Impact, Studioline, Pro-Sales, Puma Video, etc.) and official dealers of big international audiovisual brands (Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Sennheiser, Apple, etc.).

Sales companies, distributors advisory group

A handful of companies are focusing on the distribution of documentaries. However, their sales results are not financially motivating for the producers (e.g. Shadow Films; Fireworx Media; etc.).

David Forbes of Shadow Films has initiated in partnership with IPO, SASFED and WGSA, the project to bring 32 to 40 South African filmmakers to MIPCOM, MIPTV and MPDOC at Cannes. Their aim is to offer the filmmakers a platform to promote and sell their film projects while at the same time increase their experience at an international market. They have managed to get the support of DTI (the Department of Trade and Industry) and GFC, and they are lobbying for the NFVF to join the initiative. This initiative shows how an association of independent filmmakers can succeed in influencing governmental institutions in a positive way by taking the lead and mobilising their efforts.

DStv has focused for the last year on building an African films library. The revenues of the sales count for a big part of their financial capital. The problem is that they are not willing to have the producers profit from the profit of the sales. Before closing, the Film Resource Unit (FRU), sold a large amount of African film content to DStv. Many African filmmakers were obliged to sell the rights on their films for an amount that was controversial. Today, Mzansi Magic, a South African channel that is part of the DStv bouquet, is commissioning low budget fiction films. The model has not yet become viable as only about 10% of the films funded were able to meet the deadline for screening and have enough production value. Many filmmakers find it difficult to produce within the available budget and fall into debt or manage to just break even. Generating profit is limited as Mzansi Magic offers producers the opportunity to sell the DVD of their film during two years while screening it at the same time on their channel.

As a consequence, many documentary makers rely on their own efforts to sell their productions locally and overseas, but with often limited success. Some documentary makers use rental houses, film festivals and screenings to market and sell their DVD productions.

The NFVF and GFC are giving marketing and distribution support to productions they fund by showcasing them at national and international TV markets and festivals.

Some retail stores are distributing documentaries (CNA, Exclusive Books, etc.) but the sales prices make this channel not very beneficial for the producers in terms of revenue.

Advocacy partners
  • The IPO
  • Basic Lead, MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa), DTI, Ministry of Arts and Culture, NFVF, People2People Conference, Arterial Network, Women of the Sun, FilmMart,
Existing documentary and news archives
  • South Africa has adequate archiving bodies inside TV stations (SABC, eTV and cable TV networks).
  • The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARS) was established in 1996 to ensure “the proper management and care of the records of governmental bodies; and the preservation and use of a national archival heritage; and to provide for matters connected therewith”.
  • The Centre for Curating the Archive (CCA) in Cape Town started in 2009, in collaboration with the Netherlands Photo Museum, to collect documentary photography and film (physically and digitally). The aim is to establish a portal and digital archive from which to teach, research, and generate projects. There would also be a reciprocal process of mentorship and skill training from South Africa and other partners.
  • International news agencies based in Johannesburg have online archives (Reuters, APTV).


All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

TV broadcasting on:

  • national TV stations, SABC and They screen short and full-length documentaries and investigative documentary magazines. eTV has initiated a low budget documentary project called Kazi;
  • regional TV stations in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban;
  • cable TV networks DStv and Top They offer local and foreign channels. Mzanzi, a recently created channel on the DStv bouquet, focuses on African content and has seen increasing success in South Africa.

The local festivals screen documentaries using various venues including cinemas from the Ster Kinekor group and other smaller venues (e.g. at universities, community halls, The Bioscope, partner hotels, etc.).

A couple of venues showcase documentaries periodically (The Bioscope, Atlas Studios, the Labia, etc.).

The GFC and the NGO Lovelife use mobile cinema units to screen documentaries in communities. Lovelife focus on raising awareness on HIV/AIDS and promoting youth leadership.

Some private companies have launched VOD online sales platform but until now the buy-in from the audience through subscriptions or content purchase has been very low. announced its online services but since December 2011 is still in a test phase. To date their website is not operating efficiently. is focused on Africa. According to Nyasha Mutsekwa, the CEO of “We do stream to users in the UK and USA but we are focused on a continental audience”. It is currently offering free content”. All the content we stream has either been paid for or we have a revenue share with the content owners. We give them another way to monetise their content and get it seen, which is very important to them”, said Nyasha Mutsekwa.

So how is the service promoted? The CEO explained: “It’s frustrating because we are not funded and can’t spend huge amounts on marketing. So it’s largely through social media”. Currently it is doing 10,000 views per month and Mutsekwa believes that with the right content it could easily be hundreds of thousands or millions of views.”. Currently it’s mainly indie content, that is content not previously shown on TV, but users want to see what they’ve already seen”. The business model is advertising with ads played in the stream at the front and back end of the clip.

MultiChoice, the private company that runs the cable TV network DStv, currently offers the DStv On Demand and DStv BoxOffice VOD service to DStv Premium subscribers.

On Demand offers a variety of general entertainment, sport and actuality programming. The programmes are available within hours after first being broadcast on DStv and are normally available for viewing for a full 7 days thereafter. The content on On Demand does not have advert breaks. DStv On Demand is also available online, for viewing or downloading.

SouthTel is another provider of VOD services launched in South Africa. The company plans to bring programmes, through personal video recorder (PVR) set top box, within a few months after release from major studios. It will offer a combination of blockbusters, classics, TV series, and documentary content. SouthTel said that its revolutionary video- on-demand service, called VOD:TV, would come with a 3G card to enable a true return-path and make true interactive VOD television possible for the first time in Africa. It seems now that the roll-out plans for VOD:TV have changed. Media enquiries made in 2012 about VOD:TV’s proposed launch date have not received clear answers.

Samsung South Africa is in discussions with various parties to offer video on-demand content on its TVs in South Africa. Although Samsung already offers a limited amount of content in Video Hub on its Android smartphones and tablets, the company said that they are not ready to announce anything for the TV market yet.

Finally, there is, a VOD-portal devoted to films, documentaries and TV series from and about Africa, based in Paris and Dakar, that has been promoting its online platform in South Africa, lately at DIFF and DISCOP Africa. Funded by the ACP Films Programme, has over 1,000 hours of programmes in its catalogue. However the model has not yet been able to offer viable revenues to the filmmakers thanks to its on-line sales. According to Enrico Chiesa, co-founder of, the reason for that is the small part of African audience in the global on-line market. To boost its sales and facilitate the access and promotion of its services, the online platform is currently developing applications for smartphones. With the fast increase of smartphones owners on the continent, hopes to offer filmmakers a more profitable distribution channel in the near future.

Today however, video on-demand still remains dependent on both the availability and cost- effectiveness of broadband in South Africa and the rest of the continent. Until now, none of the various platforms launched for the African market has proven to be viable. There is still the issue of bandwidth as for all but the most premium users, streaming over a broadband connection is not easy over any length of time. Some countries in East Africa have better bandwidth for streaming than South Africa but most other countries do not. 60-80% of current users come from South Africa and the next biggest country is Kenya, followed by Nigeria. Despite these challenges, VOD remains a key income source for filmmakers to look at in the future when the continent will be properly linked to fast and cheap internet connection. In the meantime, VOD services need to increase the promotion of their platforms in order to build a bigger audience and generate more traffic to their sites.

Many documentary makers use online platforms (Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc.) to showcase their productions. Because of its often-slow connection capacity and still high cost, the internet has not been exploited yet as in overseas countries. However, as smart phones are becoming more affordable, more and more people, and especially young ones, use them to watch and share short videos from the net.

Private companies (dealing in banking, medical services, etc.) are increasingly using their internal internet network to screen short promotional and informative videos in their waiting rooms.

Educational and non-profit distributors

NGOs are distributing films and documentaries as part of their awareness campaigns (Lovelife, Soul City, World Vision, etc.). Lovelife has a programme to screen documentaries using mobile cinemas.

Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) regulates both broadcasting and telecommunications.

The Broadcasting Act (2002) establishes the policy framework for South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and makes provisions for the licensing of two regional language television stations. Though the Broadcasting Act seemed to be a model of envy in the region, it has been eroded due to political interference leading to questions about their supposed independence.

South Africa has one of the most liberal laws guaranteeing and protecting the freedom of speech and expression on the continent. However, recently, the government, made perhaps uncomfortable by the regular media coverage of corruption cases involving officials, has pushed the Parliament to adopt the Protection of State Information bill that will limit, for the media, the use of information involving State agents. A movement of media organisations, civil rights groups and NGOs has heavily criticised the new law and is still mobilising to oppose its application.

South Africa has been a pioneer in setting up funding mechanisms for films (NFVF, DTI rebate scheme, etc.). However, critics say too much corruption, nepotism and unprofessionalism undermine the results. Many filmmakers and small production companies also lack the capacity or the resources to develop proposals to take advantage of the available funds.

One of the criticisms producers have about the NFVF is that the organisation is spending money on “wrong projects” (eg. the project to create a new film/TV school). Many also complain about the slowness of the funding process and that the organisation is not transparent enough in its selection of funding projects.

Despite these criticisms, the NFVF remains a key player in South Africa to get film projects funded. For many emerging filmmakers, the NFVF has proved to be a reliable support. For instance, the organisation has supported young filmmakers with a grant to help them develop their film ideas and has paid traveling costs to attend overseas festivals or film/TV markets to pitch their projects.

The Department of Arts and Culture, in association with The National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF), has signed 8 co-production treaties with industrialised countries (Canada, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand).

The effect of these agreements is that a film or television programme, which is approved as an official co-production, is regarded as a national production of each of the co-producing countries, and is therefore eligible to apply for any benefits or programmes of assistance available in either country. In other words, companies from countries with co-production treaties get treated like local companies.

The treaty, therefore, means that co-productions can claim the national film funding and tax breaks available in both countries.

Paul Mashatile, the South African Minister of the Department of Arts and Culture, said about the treaty with Ireland that he was “pleased to be signing this agreement with Ireland. The creative industry, which includes film, forms part of South Africa’s drive to use the arts to tell our own stories and more importantly create sustainable employment”.

Some local producers in association with foreign companies or film associations are lobbying for the signature of more co-production treaties (e.g. with Brazil, India, etc.). Horace Reyners, a South African producer who is currently establishing a distribution company in Lagos, Nigeria, in collaboration with the South African private TV station eTV, aims to motivate the NFVF to get the Department of Arts and Culture to sign a co- production treaty with Nigeria.

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

The festivals and organisers of periodic screenings are using multimedia tools to promote their activities and to inform and encourage audiences to come to screenings through newsletters, social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), mailing lists, blogs on internet, TV, radio and print advertisements and interviews, billboards, pamphlets, etc.

Film/TV periodic newspapers are informing professionals and daily or Sunday newspapers are covering film events and commenting on the screenings.

But although film festivals are growing and they are mobilising sometimes major efforts to reach communities, the attendance at the screenings is still often lacking by the majority black population. Film/ TV professionals and their relatives or friends are sometimes the main audience during these screenings. A couple of reasons could explain this situation: lack of interest and/or motivation, limited appeal of documentary themes, lack of entertaining aspects in the audiovisual treatment, distance of the venues, costs to attend the screenings, etc.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

Documentary makers or distributors can get a licensing fee from local TV stations (SABC, eTV, Mzansi Magic, etc.). But the sales prospects are far from rosy for producers as the broadcasters are only ready to pay a very small amount to screen documentaries and the acquisition process is painful. Only those with “special” access can have their productions seen and approved.

The SABC and eTV can co-produce documentaries but the conditions are discouraging (sometimes unclear and long selection process, long period of broadcast exclusivity, etc.). The SABC is open to co-productions with producers from other countries. But, after several years of being in the red financially because of mismanagement, the SABC has drastically reduced the amount of films commissioned, preferring to purchase productions from overseas in bulk for a small amount.

Many producers tend to focus on simply achieving financing for their budgets, and do not focus much on the sales for recoupment. This has contributed to the perception of documentary filmmaking as an unsustainable business, when in fact it could have a double or triple bottom line that includes impact, profits and even branding opportunities.

Others are more mindful of securing returns especially if investors are involved, and are developing increasingly innovative outreach plans for getting their films out. But this is a new and emerging situation.

More people in South Africa have the capacity to apply for funding, locally and overseas. Their exposure to foreign contacts sometimes allows them to build synergies with overseas production companies and/or TV stations and to make co-production deals. However, many, because of lack of experience, are struggling to identify potential funders and are unable to move their projects further.

The NFVF, provincial film agencies, cultural organisations (e.g. The Heritage Fund) and NGOs can support documentary makers by funding or investing in part of the production budget. Over the last few years, the NFVF has become the key player in supporting documentary projects in South Africa, but filmmakers often have to go through painful and long processes before getting funding, and the control that the NFVF exercises on the content can be tedious.

When they are able to contract a co-production deal, the exploitation clauses drastically limit serious prospects of revenue for the producers (e.g. reimbursement obligation of investment from profit).

Documentary makers are generally not exploiting their footage for sales to news agencies. The reason, among others, is the limited capacity they have to follow up with news agencies and the lack of existing distributors offering that service.

The website has initiated a platform to help filmmakers develop their film projects within the film community. Subscribers to the website are invited to present their projects and pitch for support among their peers. The platform is being utilised by filmmakers from across the African continent and beyond. Some look for support in funding their film, others advertise to recruit film professionals, etc.

Study of rights issues for distribution both broadcast and online

The rights for distributing documentaries across ‘territories’ using South African broadcasters are negotiable considering their need for content. The volume of material offered will be a key factor to determine the final deal.

The right to distribute online across ‘territories’ could be included in the deal. The potential of online distribution is still overlooked; very underexploited, and it is generally not considered.

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

Although there are governmental departments looking at copyright issues, the implementation of antipiracy laws is weak. Piracy is therefore commonplace and widespread.

As very few documentaries are distributed on DVD, documentary makers are not mobilized to fight piracy.

If more documentaries are starting to be distributed on DVD, selling on the street, next to retail stores, will require dealing actively with piracy. One way, discussed by many, is to motivate the street vendors of pirated goods to become distributors of documentary DVDs. This will require training and empowering them in selling efficiently documentary products.

An effort will also be necessary in launching awareness campaigns against piracy.

Possible creation of online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others

This can help documentary productions in South Africa to develop by putting them on the map.

Although South Africa has good telecommunication infrastructures, internet is still expensive today and not fast and stable enough for comfortable online screening. However, the cost of an internet subscription is continuously going down and the long awaited fiber optic cable for fast internet access is a near-future prospect.

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

There are many NGOs (dealing mostly with issues on gender, HIV/AIDS, violence against women, child protection, environment etc.) and UN agencies operating in South Africa.

ADFF can encourage civil society groups to partner with documentary makers.

Some key organisations: TAC, POWA, Nelson Mandela Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children Fund, OSISA, Africalia, MISA, Word Vision, PSI (social marketing), etc.

Today, the media is playing a key role in the fight against corruption, one of the major blocks to development. The media regularly exposes cases of corruption and has taken the social responsibility to cover issues related to poverty reduction.

Political sensitivities

South African authorities are more and more sensitive to the potential of cinema to contribute to creating much-needed employment for youth and new migrants to the country. This is not the case yet for documentaries.

However, the government, in its efforts to tackle poverty and reduce unemployment, is realizing the need to increase the production of information to empower marginalised populations and especially young people (e.g. efforts to support and develop entrepreneurship to reduce the amount of people living off the monthly state grant). In this context, ADFF, with the support of its local partners, could lobby relevant governmental bodies to mobilise more resources in the production and distribution of documentaries on development issues.


Potential partners for funding

South African companies and institutions with branches in Swaziland do not want to fund projects similar to those that they are funding in South Africa. The reasons are always that “it is not in their line for funding”.

For many, the only potential funding partners for documentaries are in South Africa, as they can, for instance, apply for funding through the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).

However accessing those potential partners is seen as “self-defeating”. One commentator explains: “As the same 3 or 4 people keep producing most documentaries in South Africa, documentary makers in Swaziland feel like seeking a potential funding partner from South Africa is a “regressive step”. There is a frustrating belief indeed, the same commentator says: “that the same South African people are using resources from places like the NFVF to travel to foreign markets and, in a sense, they get themselves ingrained into any funding scheme… Or that the same producer will end being on a selection board for a foreign film fund and will always end up selecting other South African projects”.

The commentator concludes: “So for myself personally, I would rather not make any film if the only option of a potential funding partner is to throw myself into the minestrone pot… It’s a matter of principle because I honestly don’t believe that in all this time the only African documentaries are from South Africa, or sometimes Kenya, which also has its own film commission”.

Like in other places in Southern Africa, international NGOs, UN agencies and governmental bodies also are commissioning local producers to make films with messages promoting the activities or projects they are funding.

MISA Swaziland is a key partner to consider working with. The organisation has done commendable work on monitoring and documenting the media coverage in Swaziland.

The Clinton Foundation is funding projects in Swaziland.

Film schools, training programmes

There are no schools offering film-training programmes available for documentary makers in Swaziland.

The only institution providing training in the field in Swaziland is the Limkokwing University of Technology, which has recently been opened. However, for those without a bursary from the government, it is difficult to enroll in because the fees are prohibitive.

Therefore, many locals enroll in South African universities, as their fees are more affordable. Many also have to rely on external development programmes such as the Talent Campus at DIFF, in Durban, or other workshops and master classes like the FilmMart.

The government does not provide financial aid to those interested in studying documentary or filmmaking even though they do sponsor some study outside the country in other subjects.

Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative

The Limkokwing University of Technology


The only film festival is the Golden Lion Film Festival, run by James Hall. The festival showcases short film and video dramas, animation, documentaries, musicals and comedies. The French Alliance Française, embassies and UNICEF have funded the festival that also has venues in Lesotho, South Africa and Mozambique. Beyond the festival itself, this organisation is dedicated to the advancement of film scholarship, both critical and theory throughout Southern Africa.

The festival director stated that a “major bank in Swaziland has asked the Gold Lion Film Festival to undertake a training programme to teach new media production techniques to Swazis who may wish to become filmmakers. They can at least post what they do on YouTube and other on-line outlets”.

One Swazi woman has developed a human rights festival project, targeting mainly women and girls. However she is still trying to find funding to implement the project and for training.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

Local producers formed an association called the Independent Producers Association, but the organisation has failed to produce anything tangible.

One commentator adds, “There is no documentary industry in Swaziland so peer mentorship groups don’t exist”.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film

There are no equipment facility houses and many rely heavily on South Africa for equipment.

Swazi TV, the government owned television station, has film equipment but it’s not hiring out its equipment.

The country’s only existing private production studio, the Christian Media Centre, vets programmes being produced at its facilities to ensure that they are in line with the centre’s Christian moral codes. Such censorship does little to promote the kind of creativity and diversity that many respondents considered crucial to the development of a more professional and sustainable audio-visual sector.

A need was expressed to run workshops on the use of different equipment, especially during festivals.

The lack of training and equipment is a major stumbling block for many who are passionate about film production.

Sales companies, distributors advisory group
  • There are none in Swaziland
  • The only options for distribution are the movie rental outlets and some shops that sell
  • Documentaries from other countries are generally not sold in
Advocacy partners

The Independent Producers Association is supposed to play that role but it is considered “disorganised and not active”.

Existing documentary and news archives

The only organisation with any real resources for archiving is the government owned television station. However, as someone stated, “what is archived is not so much the experience of ordinary Swazis but relates more to government events and major cultural or traditional anniversaries and events”.


All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

The national TV seldom broadcast documentaries. Documentaries are generally seen on SABC (the South African national TV station) and, for those who can afford it, through the DSTV bouquet and other cable TV networks.

Swaziland has one private broadcaster, Channel Swazi, operated by a member of the royal family.

An estimated 83.3% of the Swazi population aged 10 years and over are tuning in to television once or more times per week. Swazi TV holds the highest number of weekly viewers – approximately 510 400, and is followed by SABC 1 with 431,200 viewers. ETV holds third place with 332 000 viewers, followed by Channel Swazi with 244 800 and SABC2 with 134 400.

The Movie Zone Cinema, opened in 2010, is the only cinema venue in Swaziland. This multiplex with four screens, each of which seats 100 patrons, is located within the Gables Shopping Centre at Ewulzini Valley.

Theatrical screenings of documentaries have not yet started and will probably not be popular as most people watch short documentaries on YouTube or on other internet based platforms. Many would more likely prefer to use their money to purchase mobile phones than pay for cinema tickets.

The most popular places where films are seen are show rooms in townships. But film and video clubs are not likely to work for screening documentaries as most people in Swaziland “are more concerned with day to day survival; like studying hard to go to university, studying hard to get a good job or concerned more about raising their families”. As a participant says, “even taking time to travel to a film or video club meeting would be a distraction for most people as they generally don’t extend themselves beyond what they are used to (radio, gospel music, etc.).” Anyone who would have time or interest in extending their interest in film or video clubs would be more easily accessible through Facebook.

Educational and non-profit distributors

There are none.

However, NGOs want to use video to promote their development and advocacy work. In Swaziland, each traditional authority has a community centre that could host video screenings. Meanwhile, the country’s national AIDS co-ordinating body has built additional youth and community centres which it wants to equip with televisions and VCRs and needs audio-visual materials to screen.

Some NGOs are organising thematic screenings (e.g. Friends of the Earth Swaziland (Yonge Nawe).

Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

Beginning in 1966 as a radio broadcaster, the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service is the broadcast and print information provider within Swaziland. State owned, it oversees the running of and is responsible for, radio and TV broadcasting services, newspapers, magazines and other printed government publications. It also regulates the internet and other government information services as well as the accreditation of foreign news reporters and correspondents operating in Swaziland. SBIS operates as a government department under the Ministry of Public Service and Information.

The infamous King’s Decree of 1973 mandates the King to superintend the executive, legislature and judiciary. The Swaziland Broadcasting Information Service broadcasts nationally and is still in state control and does not allow those with dissenting views to be covered or appear either on radio or television. Commentators reported that it was common knowledge that Channel Swazi, a TV station run by Qhwa Mamba, has some connections with the Royal family and also influences policy position on Trans World Radio, a religious radio station. To date, according to commentators, the state continues to thwart initiatives by Lubombo community to set up their community broadcasting station.

High rates of regulation and censorship mean that there is a lack of analysis within the media of why the country is in the state that it is in. This is due in part to media ownership and control as well as who the advertisers are and the way they can control what is produced within the media with they power that they hold.

Censorship is something that’s more ingrained on a social and cultural level. Swazis generally are not used to cameras being used to document the lives of ordinary people. Historically, indeed, the population has only been aware of cameras used by the government to relay messages through news on the national TV or occasionally used by organisations like UNICEF, PSI and other NGOs to also relay some type of message. As a consequence, there is a type of internal censorship that Swazis have about either using cameras themselves or being filmed.

A policy, piloted by the Department of Arts and Culture, is being drafted. Its objective is to safeguard the production of documentaries.

The government is promising to introduce independent regulation in the broadcasting and telecommunications sector through the Swaziland Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC).

Swaziland is still in the hands of dozens of extreme laws such as the Official Secrets Acts 1963, which prohibited any access to the government-held information. Though the Constitution does not include any information about the freedom of information, it does state that under the protection of Freedom of Expression (Section 24) a person has “the right to receive ideas or information without any interference”. This Constitutional law is yet to be tested in court and practiced. There is a deep secrecy between the government and the public. The government does not disclose information and any acts that suggest the request for information are often rejected or get caught up in bureaucratic red tape.

Swaziland’s Constitution covers the protection of freedom of expression. But the extent of the protection is in question since Section 24 elaborates on limitations that could be used to cut short the freedom of expression. There are also several new and old laws that infringe upon the law of freedom of expression such as the new Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) 2008, “All those who were vocal are quieter now because of the act”. The Act defines the support of terrorism so broadly that anyone could be prosecuted. Swazi Law and Custom establish enormous fear about practicing the freedom of expression.

Currently, any foreign production project needs to get permission from the Department of Arts and Culture and include the Independent Producers Association and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

Since 2004, The Golden Lion Film Festival has been showcasing short films and videos from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and elsewhere in the world. All genres of shorts subjects are presented.

The festival’s original purpose was to overcome the limitations of commercial film distribution in the region, which is largely restricted to mainstream blockbuster films, and to introduce innovative filmmakers to a new audience by marketing through the local newspapers, radio, TV, banners and flyers and has also recommended doing live interviews through the radio and TV.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations


The industry is underdeveloped and not supported in Swaziland. Those that practice film production do it part time, as a passion.

The total lack of commissions and support from the national broadcaster have forced the industry to make a living mainly from work commissioned by NGOs, as well as take on some corporate work to assist in meeting their financial commitments. There are, however, efforts from the broadcaster to start engaging independent producers in developing policies that will pave the way for future working relationships. The biggest challenge is the lack of a budget to pay for or commission programmes.

It is really hard to get a buy-in from companies to fund any documentary unless, and only if, the production has been commissioned. Many companies channel their funds to activities or events related to sport.

Study of rights issues for distribution both broadcast and online

Online rights across ‘territories’ for distribution both broadcast and online would not really affect Swaziland as internet is only blocked when there are political demonstrations. On a day to day basis nobody really cares if anybody is watching documentaries on DStv, cable channels like M-Net or SABC, or online on YouTube or other internet based platforms.

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

According to some participants, the government works hard to curb piracy even though their efforts are mostly related to fighting pirated DVDs and music being sold on the street. They also work very hard to discourage people from buying pirated products. The Swazi people generally do not to buy pirated music and video products. Many people that sell pirated products in Swaziland are foreigners and they are regularly arrested.

The best way to fight piracy is to push the Copyrights Bill to be enacted to Law because currently the law is outdated and needs amendments.

Another way can be to motivate the street vendors of pirated goods to become distributors of documentary DVDs.

Possible creation of online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others

That is a very good idea. It can help documentaries produced in Swaziland to develop by putting them on the map.

However, it is important to note that internet access in Swaziland is still slow and expensive. A study reveals that to date 28.5% of persons 10+ years have had/ have access to the internet. A lot of people do not necessarily access the internet in their home area but access it in key towns, cities and institutions such as schools (colleges and university) and the work place.

Young people are much less apprehensive about getting on board with the new media. It is generally a “male thing” although there is a growing army of female web surfers especially between the ages of 15 – 24 years.

The highest number of internet users access it at cafés (12.2% of the population), followed by those who access it at work 8.8% and at schools (high schools, university and colleges and other tertiary institutions), at home 2.8% and other places 2.5%.

While the internet is having an impact in Swaziland, it is perceived as two distinct media: a communications channel (mostly e-mails), and an information channel (websites and portals). Relatively few people make use of music and other download capabilities, nor use the web for shopping or trading.

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

Swaziland’s media is greatly affected by economic, political and health-related factors. Its landlocked location in the south-east of Africa, makes farming Swaziland’s most prominent source of income for its population of 1,067,773 people.

Swaziland has a widespread HIV Aids epidemic status with 26.1% of adults being infected, and over 50% of the people in their 20’s carrying the disease. This threatens their livelihood and longevity and imposes vast economic challenges.

These are the factors which contribute to Swaziland having the lowest life expectancy in the world of approximately 32 years.

Swaziland’s need for international assistance to aid its economic and health-related issues is hindered by a continuum of largely hidden political problems which do not allow them to be a centre point on the international map.

Swaziland has a vibrant and diverse civil society with a number of NGOs, trade unions, faith groups and political parties attempting to operate in extremely difficult circumstances. Those

organisations working towards democracy in their country are frequently victimised and persecuted. This has lead to both divisions with the civil society movement as well as united efforts to change the future of Swaziland.

The Swazi state, in its desperate bid to keep a firm grip on power, has attempted to close off almost all civic space. Vocal citizens, human rights defenders, unionists and members of political parties are targeted by the State.

In order to effectively address these challenges, the country needs pressure by foreign donors, as well as civil society-led efforts to increase public participation in the country’s decision-making processes.

There are many NGOs (dealing mostly with issues on gender, HIV/AIDS, etc.) and UN agencies operating in Swaziland. However none have activities specifically related to documentary production.

Some key local organisations:

  • Swaziland Positive living (SWAPOL) was founded in 2001 by five HIV positive women after experiencing stigma and discrimination from their in-laws, families and community members. SWAPOL’s core business is to provide support to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS, affected families and orphans and vulnerable
  • The Children of Swaziland a UK charity whose aims are to provide support to the women and children in Swaziland who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS through funding education and health
  • The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL).
  • The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), created in 2003, is a coalition body of wide ranging civil society organisations, including the Catholic Church coalition group, the Community for Justice and Peace; the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU); the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL); the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT); Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC); People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and a variety of NGOs and small groups and
  • The United Front is a recently formed political movement which is aiming to bring together different sectors of civil society through their collective struggle for The group has been formed as further commitments of both union federations to take on the Swazi government and kingdom politically.
Political sensitivities the Fund needs to be aware of

The Kingdom of Swaziland under the leadership of King Mswati III is Africa’s last absolute monarchy. The King is responsible for choosing a prime minister and a number of representatives for the chambers of government. In a struggle to have a strong democratic movement within the country, the media subsequently suffers. Most journalists lack the ability to exercise media ethics and the rights associated with a free press due to the strict control by the state.

In 2011, Swaziland was rated “Not Free” in Freedom in the world, and “Not Free” in Freedom of the Press 2011. King Mswati III has currently full authority over the cabinet, Parliament and the judiciary. Freedom House commented that “The government routinely warns against negative news coverage, and journalists are subject to harassment and assault by both state and non state actors”. Reporters Without Borders conducted a “World Press Freedom Index 2011-2012”, showing that Swaziland ranked 144 out of 179 countries.

The same situation is evident in regards to Internet Freedom. Although there is only a small fraction of the population who have access to the internet, social networking has been used as a tool of protest in the past. The King has proposed a law whereby it is illegal to criticise King Mswati III on Facebook and Twitter. Justice Minister Mgwagwa Gamedze proposed the legislation and stated that they would take a “tough” stance on those who criticise the King via social media in order to “set an example”.

Protection for journalists in Swaziland is not in place. Journalists are often subject to anonymous telephone calls advising them not to publish particular stories and they have been called to the offices of the King, Prime Minister, and Senate subcommittee. Journalists continue to be threatened, harassed, and assaulted as a means of stopping them from criticising the government and the monarchy. For example, on January 12, 2008, former Cabinet Minister and Times of Swaziland columnist, Mfomfo Nkambule, publicly apologised to the King for a series of articles that criticised the monarchy after being pressured by police and government authorities. Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini had threatened to charge Mfomfo Nkambule and other media commentators under the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act. On April 27, the Times of Swaziland stopped publishing Nkambule’s articles.

Press freedom has become a very important political issue in Swaziland. Government restrictions and perceived patronising with regard to the media have obviously not gone down well with some sections of society. In general, the government appears reluctant to hasten the process of democratization both in the area of communication and the general area of governance, thus creating problems for itself.

This calls for a very serious reconsideration of policy issues by government.


 Potential partners for funding

To access funding for training, production and distribution it will be appropriate to work with existing organisations that have a good record and catalogue of productions such as ZAMCOM, Vilole Images Productions and Yezi Arts.

Possible sources of funding: UN organisations (UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, ILO), embassies (Swedish, Finnish, Irish, American, etc.), private companies (mobile technologies, mines, banks such as Standard Chartered Bank, etc.) and parastatal companies (pension funds such as NAPS (National Pension Schemes), Finance Bank, etc.).

The national Film Policy is looking at establishing a film fund.


To propose themes of production that will interest funding organisations to be associated with.

Film schools, training programmes
  • ZAMCOM: formerly a key governmental training organisation for journalists, it’s now a parastatal media school that is also offering a 6-month training on audiovisual production. Today, the organisation is going through a restructuring phase and new positioning process to face the fast-changing media landscape.
  • Technical Vocational Training (TAVETA) offers 6 weeks training, Evelyn Hone College offers 6 months training and the University of Zambia (UNZA) offers a degree in Mass Communication but no focus on film. The training at Evelyn Hone College is the same as that of ZAMCOM. Students from UNZA do not have technical training.

Currently there is no institution that train filmmakers.

There is a lack of in-depth technical and practical training. There is also a need for specialisation in the industry.

There is a lack of coordination with organisations where students could be placed in internships.

Media stakeholders critque the low quality of media productions (TV reports, newspaper articles and internet content). This could be enhanced by better training.


After a six-month training period, ZAMCOM should ideally place students in internships in the workplace where they can receive mentorship from broadcast stations and production houses, and continue to learn.

The government could consider offering employers grants or tax benefits to incentive them to take on more students for internships.

There is a need for specialisation in various media sectors, to develop strategies for the future.

ZAMCOM can play a key role in training high-skilled professionals in the Southern African region.

  • More in-depth technical training is required as well as management classes for the future professionals to be able to run their businesses
  • Existing training programmes should be reviewed, technical skills should be developed from the beginning, and both individual as well as collaborative teamwork should be encouraged and developed.
  • Schools should provide some training on professionalism and work
  • There is a need to look at training programmes on business management, to develop a train-the- trainer programme and to have regional training because the exchange enriches experiences e.g. UNESCO
Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative

Zambia Institute of Management and Cavendish University could be approached to teach business management.


There is no Zambian annual film/documentary festival.

Currently only Vilole Images Productions offers a film festival although this does not take place every year. This year it has organised a film festival in Livingstone, the Shungo Namutitima (Smoke that thunders) International Film Festival of Zambia (SNIFFoZ).

There is a EU film festival, which is held by the Alliance Française on an annual basis.


A film festival culture should be built in Zambia, showing auteur-driven documentaries, international and local documentaries rather than promotional films for NGOs and the private sector.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

NAMA (National Association Media Arts) looks at the development of art. It represents filmmakers and has about 78 members. The organisation sits in the National Arts Council of Zambia (NACZ) and is also recognised by the Ministry of Information and Labour. It is involved in the development of the national Film Policy and conducts workshops in rural and urban areas.

The Society of Cinematographers regroups technicians and directors.


There is a need to create a platform where people can engage actively in the film industry to grow the industry. The association would focus on developing film and documentary makers.

To support the filmmakers the Film Policy should be implemented (awaiting sign off by the Ministry of Information and Labour).

The industry should ultimately come up with guilds e.g. one for editors to have a forum where they can share experiences.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film

Most TV stations have in-house production units.

The biggest facility house is Hickey Studios.

Most companies have their own equipment that do not hire out equipment. However, in rare cases, equipment is hired out on condition that a company representative or employee accompanies the equipment.

The main companies with equipment are:

  • Viswa Productions,
  • Loyola Studios
  • Prime Time

More equipment houses for the purchase or rental of gear are needed.

Sales companies, distributors advisory group
  • NONKAS is newly established, and they can distribute locally and
  • SOUNDS is a retail outlet that sells music and
  • ZNBC has the monopoly of distribution with national broadcasters and has international agreements in ZNBC is willing to use its platform to partner with others and is looking to develop and collect quality content.
  • Distribution is a challenge in
  • Players in distribution around Africa have started talking to each other, this is an encouraging development and links are being

Documentary makers should approach existing distributors such as NONKAS and SOUNDS. They should also engage with ZNBC to distribute their content.

Advocacy partners
  • Transparency International Zambia
  • MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa): the organisation, set up in 11 countries, is comprised of representatives of the radio, print and TV media. They are involved in policy making and provide training Every year MISA gives a media award.
  • National Arts Council of Zambia (NACZ)
  • Zambia and Information Technology (ZIT)

To set up a board that includes all the key stakeholders.

Existing documentary and news archives
  • The Zambia National Information Service (ZNIC), which is under the Ministry of Information and Labour, is responsible for archiving state
  • ZNBC also archives its own
  • ZNIS is not properly equipped for

An archiving organisation that is not tied to the government is needed.


All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.
  • ZNBC has a national reach including in urban and rural areas. A deputy minister has been recently appointed to spearhead television access in the rural areas.
  • MOBI TV reaches Southern and Central Zambia (following the railway lines). The TV station is looking to go international thanks to its partnership with
  • MUVI TV is also broadcast along the railway lines and has developed a sister channel, Africa Unit, that gives it African
  • My TV is part of the cable
  • Less than 2% of the Zambian population of 13 million has access to They have difficulties in accessing the internet and often do not have the capacity/knowledge to access the internet.
  • The internet tariff is expensive, but public interest in the internet is growing
  • The rise of social media is representing a challenge for traditional
  • There are no documentary clubs in the
  • The Zambia Information Services (ZANIS) has mobile vans (over 70) to cover the 73 districts in Zambia with projectors to broadcast audio and video
  • ZANIS mobile vans could be used to show documentaries around the country on development
  • Use the national channel for airing
Educational and non-profit distributors

NGOs distribute their productions to their constituencies and strive to use them for educational and advocacy purposes as well.

Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

Zambia has never had a Film Policy until recently. Currently, the Ministry of Information and Labour, NAMA and key stakeholdershave put together a draft Film Policy which has been given to the Cabinet for comment.

The Film Policy is covering the following issues: copyright, piracy and access to funding.

In developing the Film Policy, the team looked at other models e,g. Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Kenya.

The Ministry of Information has not yet implemented the Copyright Policy although it was approved by the Cabinet in 2010.

The Censorship Law has been repealed.

The Film Policy will have a Film Commission to look at issues that are sensitive such as age restrictions, etc.

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

The culture of documentaries is very limited as it stems from news pieces or marketing of a company or NGO.

There is no strategy on audience cultivation on documentaries.

  • Audience outreach and engagement strategies need to be
  • Local stories can potentially reach a wide
  • Auteur-driven, perspectival documentaries are
  • Basic training in media literacy and film theory and history, especially with respect to documentary is
Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

TV2 was created with the premise of airing documentaries, but this has not worked out financially and TV2 has gone back to the drawing board.

TV channels do pay for news footage. The payment depends on the content.

The size of the Zambian economy as well as the market is also limiting to the industry as it does not provide enough revenue for the film/documentary makers.


Good quality films are needed so that they will reach other markets in Africa and beyond, and increase the revenue base. Zambia shares cultures with neighboring countries, this should be possible.

TV stations should be encouraged to buy documentaries and have a slot for documentaries.

There should be a percentage of local content that is shown on TV but this should be looked at in a long- term process with the view of improving local content.

Study of rights issues for distribution both broadcast and online

The Ministry of Information and Labour has a department that looks at copyright issues, ZAMCOB. The organisation protects films.

Zambia does not yet have a fast reliable internet to use for online distribution.

Options and best practices for dealing with piracy

Piracy is commonplace and widespread in Zambia.

  • Making sure that laws are
  • Penalties should be
  • Awareness of piracy and the problems it causes should be
Possible creation of an online film library and/or channel to distribute films supported by ADFF and others

Internet access is a challenge for accessing an online film library.

Zambia and Information Technology (ZIT) is looking at digital migration and establishing internet accessibility in the rural areas.

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners

Since the 90s, social movements have been emerging and growing in Zambia. But on a regional and international level, Zambia has to some extent lost the prominent role it used to play.

There is a rise in community radio stations and print media but the quality is low. Capacity needs to be reinforced in those sectors. Also, there is a need t for better business practices to run the media companies to ensure their sustainability.

The media is playing a key role in the fight against corruption. Every week the media are exposing cases of corruption. People are interested in seeing more news on innovation in the media. Civil society groups need to reinforce their capacity to deal with the media to have more exposure. Also, at the same time, the media has to take social responsibility to cover issues related to poverty reduction. The high level of illiteracy makes it difficult for many to access media.

Some key international NGOs: Water Aid, World Vision, Save the Children, Action for Enterprise and Habitat for Humanity.

  • CAMFED deals with improving the life of rural The organisation does participatory work and has trained women in the rural areas on video production.
  • ZAWIC (Zambian Women in Construction), YWCA and YMCA are other grassroots
  • There is a need to work with cultural associations of various tribes in order to preserve culture, history and non-harmful
Political sensitivities

The economy in Zambia is developing and people want more information. Social media and new technologies are on the rise

Since the 90’s, Zambia has gone through a series of peaceful political transitions. The last elections in 2011 brought President Michael Sata to power on a platform dedicated to corruption-fighting.

There is a political will to back the Film Policy and the film sector is now getting organised. The growth of the industry will create employment for the youth and new entrants into the sector.

In this context of political stability, Zambia is attracting investors to come into the country. The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) was set up to engage with investors.

Historically, Zambia played a major role in mediating liberation struggles in neighboring countries and is considered a peacemaker. Bordering 8 different countries, Zambia is ideally geographically positioned. From the capital Lusaka there are easy connections to other African capitals and key air links.


 Film schools, training programmes

Most universities and polytechnic colleges in Zimbabwe offer courses in what is called media. These are mainly theoretical. There are quite a few of these institutions, although no audit has ever been done of the precise training offered. An attempt by the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe around 2008 ended up providing little more than a base line study of Zimbabweans engaged in the arts.

Apart from fairly non-specific education at such tertiary institutions, several specialised institutions also exist. These include Zimbabwe School of Digital Arts (ZIDA), Zimbabwe Film and Television School of Southern Africa (formerly a project of UNESCO sponsored by the Danish government, now taken over by the Ministry of Media Information and Publicity) and several others that one reads of in the papers from time to time. There is no full time professional training.

Many organisations such as the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ), the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA) Trust (which incorporates Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe/International Images Film Festival for Women (WFOZ/IIFF) and Nyerai Films), the Book Cafe, the Zimbabwe International Film Festival and other arts organisations conduct ad hoc documentary film training. These courses depend on the availability of donor funds and the commitment of the organisations.

ICAPA was formed from two film centred organisations to guarantee its survival during the depression in Zimbabwe, and as such has offered the most intensive and coherent practical training in recent years in the form of workshops and in the form of taking on interns. A documentary production workshop with American and Spanish facilitators, Rabia Williams and Alba Sotorra, conducted in 2009 has now led to the establishment of ZIM.DOC, a training initiative for documentary production and its consequent dissemination and marketing on the web.

Business management, technical and journalism schools interested in being involved with this initiative

ICAPA with its two departments, Nyerai Films and Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe, is definitely interested in this initiative.

Christian College of Southern Africa would probably be interested, as WFOZ has established a relationship with them through screenings at the college.

Cooperation with government institutions such as Harare Polytechnic and ZIFTESSA, is difficult because of red tape, although they would probably be interested. However, we are yet to see any productions from ZIFTESSA, although the school has been running for several years.

The Women’s University in Africa has expressed great interest in setting up a film department and has approached the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe to join in this venture. This could be another chance to set up professional training.


There are two film festivals: the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) which is the flagship event of Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust ZIFFT (not to be mixed up with ZIFF – Zanzibar International Film Festival).

ZIFFT has suffered severe mismanagement in recent years. It is held sometimes in August and sometimes in October.

IIFF is held in the second half of November in order to coincide with the UN 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. It is in its 11th year and enjoys considerable popularity and international recognition. The festival has a strong documentary segment and has included a Mini-Input programme run by the Zimbabwe German Society in the last two editions. ZIFFT tends to have short workshops during the festival while WFOZ endeavors to do separate training and exhibit the products. IIFF holds the Centre of the South venue each year, which screens southern films and mainly documentaries. Good southern documentaries and in particular African productions have proved extremely popular with audiences.

Professional, peer mentorship group: creative producers, line producers, directors, writers, editors

There are no professional peer mentorship groups.

Non-professional groups do exist, and it is not always their fault that they have not been able to become professional, as this is due to lack of resources and training. These organisations include film industry associations, like the Actor’s Union or the Film Producer’s Association. There are no writers, directors or editors associations. Mentorship is carried out on individual bases, with people generally meeting at workshops or on productions, which provide on- the-job training, or through internship programmes. Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe, which mentors women, is the most functional.

Camera, computer hardware, software and other tech-related companies in film

The economic meltdown resulted in equipment hiring companies relocating or closing down. Former employees have endeavored to take on the functions.

These include L & L lightning, who now supply most of the lighting and power requirements. However production, houses, which are small, tend to have their own basic semi professional rig, and to make do with the minimal equipment hired from many different small sources.

Lack of equipment is one of the limiting factors in the development of the sector. However, due to the lack of training, there is also a shortage of skilled crew to utilise the equipment. With the very few large productions undertaken in Zimbabwe, most skilled crew have left the country.

Sales companies, distributors advisory group

Media for Development Trust has a more or less functioning distribution of development-based videos. They target predominantly NGOs and donors and are therefore too expensive for the ordinary public.

There is a very active and successful distribution network for pirated DVDs by a group called “Jack Sparrow” and there are discussions among filmmakers to engage them for a possible legal distribution of local productions.

Recommendations Advocacy partners

The Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture administers the film sector along with its parastatal National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, and the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity. They do not do a great deal of film advocacy as interest in the arts, including film, appears to be determined by political expediency.

In the same vein, the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity has been working closely with ZIFTESSA to develop a policy document for the sector (the entire sector, including but not limited to documentary filmmaking). The Prime Minister’s office, which is responsible for policy, appears to be taking an interest in art and this should include film.

Television also falls under the Ministry of Information, Media and Publicity, which is still completely under ruling party ZANU PF control and is seen basically as the main propaganda tool. All advocacy in this sector therefore is guided first by allegiance to the party.

There is little advocacy for documentary as creative film narrative.

  • Existing documentary and news archives: there are
  • The UNESCO Film and TV training project had a very useful and big film library on VHS, which vanished after
  • ZTV uses all the old tapes, even master tapes supplied from the outside, for new
  • National archives are so notoriously underfunded, that it is highly unlikely that they have much audiovisual
  • The festivals have built up libraries but this has also been negatively affected by the economic meltdown and policy decisions of


All forms of distribution, including: broadcast, theatrical, internet, mobile TV, telecoms/mobile phone, mobile cinema, film/video clubs, etc.

Apart from the festival screenings at IIFF and ZIFFT, there are extensive outreach programmes organised by IIFF, where the films from the festival (often documentaries like Breaking the Silence – Rape in the Congo which had numerous showings in schools, universities, clubs, galleries and community halls) are shown throughout the year. These programmes have been going on for several years.

IIFF’s programme in the schools had to overcome lots of difficulties as it was denied entry into the government schools three times by the Ministry of Education Sports Arts and Culture, but has still managed to screen in several of them and has since been lobbying once more with the Government of National Unity. TV in Zimbabwe is controlled by the ruling party, and heavily censored, and none of the other mentioned distribution channels exist in Zimbabwe.

Cinema theatre spaces have been taken over and occupied by churches, thus venues are now a problem, and this is also affecting festival screenings, although the festivals have tackled the problem creatively.

Educational and non-profit distributors

Media for Development Trust is the only educational distributor, although with a limited reach.

Legal frameworks including any censorship issues

Theoretically filmmakers may operate as long as they have accreditation from the Zimbabwe Media Commission. Accreditation is easy to obtain for Zimbabweans, but is expensive for foreigners. It is also useful to have accreditation from the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe. It is in fact not so simple, and filmmakers are liable to be picked up at any moment either by the authorities or by vigilantes. Paying police for protection can be expensive. Films must be certified by the Censorship Board for public screenings. This is easy to obtain for festival films and small-scale exhibition, but is more problematic for commercial releases.

Audience cultivation strategies including publicity/ PR strategy

Zimbabwe needs, like most Southern African countries, a big effort to promote an appreciation of documentary films and the cinematic experience in general.

The two film festivals with all their limited resources are not enough for this task. WFOZ has been screening a selection of festival films throughout the year in its outreach programmes IIFF in the schools, IIFF in the clubs and IIFF in the gallery.

The initiative ZIM.DOC has also a strong outreach component with exhibitions, web-portals and blogs.

The country is plagued by bogus practitioners due to the lack of professional standards. A case in point is MaiJai Films, the company of a former ZIFFT director, which received a substantial grant from the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe to develop a website to promote the Zimbabwean film industry. The website was created once, but has not been updated since 2009 or loaded with the content it requested from Zimbabwean filmmakers.

Revenue strategies, including advertising, sponsorship, footage licensing, partnerships with news organisations

Documentary films from Zimbabwe have always been financed directly or indirectly by international donors. This led to a big majority of “message films”, often appreciated by the development experts only, who were happy that their message had been repeated through the AV-media.

Active film organisations were sometimes able to support no-budget productions with their infrastructure, often by building synergies with foreign TV-commissions or cultural funding to the organisation.

The new initiative ZIM.DOC is trying to explore the use of web-based distribution and marketing to find a means of funding support, or sales and rental revenues through the internet.

Social movements, civil society groups and other partners
  • There are around 3600 registered NGOs in Zimbabwe who are all claiming to be civil society groups.
  • Partners to potentially consider working with are: Padare Men’s Forum, The Book Cafe, Kubatana, the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe, African Father’s Initiative, Delta Gallery, Zimbabwe German Society and the Women’s Law Centre and Women in Politics Incubator Zimbabwe
Political sensitivities

Political repression and censorship are major issues in Zimbabwe.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.