A LOCAL film industry should be a number one priority for national development, and it is time for the local private sector to get involved in investing in this industry, and for educational institutions to make it a very central part of their curricula.
This view was given yesterday by Dr. Ikael Tafari, Director of the Commission for Pan African Affairs, as the Commission gave an update of its involvement in the upcoming Bridge-town Film Festival taking place in Barbados f rom May 6 to 14.
Speaking from the Commissions headquarters at Hincks Street, the City, Tafari also lauded the contributions of the local film group, which recently had two representatives sound engineer Nala and filmmaker and director of the u pcoming festival, Mahmood Patel return from an educational stint in Senegal, working with a top Senegalese filmmaker.
Tafari said the presence of both Nala and Mahmood and the work that they had done over the last year or so, indicated that where there was the will, progress could be made in the film industry.
He said Government was now in the process of establishing a film commission that would certainly bring resources to the table and make it easier for young or established filmmakers t o access the kind of resources necessary to make films. He said while film was an expensive medium, it was not always necessary to spend millions, noting that, some of the most impactive films, like The harder they come, made in Jamaica, was made on a shoe-string budget.
Tafari said while the industry should not be overly pessimistic about the economic aspects of development, there was a need for more involvement from private sector investors.
What is important is that our private sector gets into the act. Film is a business. That is the bottom line. It is an industry. It is a highly competitive and lucrative business and I think it is time that the local private sector began to make its presence felt, in terms of investing in the industr y, and giving our young, talented people the kind of backing that they need to make a success, Tafari stated.
Noting there was no greater instrument for the promotion of an island, or a culture internationally than film, Tafari said the efforts of mainstream tourism promotion could never compare to the impact of filmmaking.
With all due respect to the kind of efforts, and some of them are highly successful, by our local Tourism Authority, setting up of kiosks and branches of the Tourism Au thority in different countries could never have the kind of impact that even one single film could have. It has been said that Boy Marley and his music, and films like The harder they come did more to promote the Caribbean and Jamaica than hundreds of e fforts by tourism authorities over the world, he said.
Underscoring the importance of developing a local film industry, Tafari also called for contributions from mainstream educational institutions, This is a highly important industry, in my op inion, the number one priority for national development, and it is going to be necessary to put the kinds of facilities at the disposal of aspiring filmmakers. Not just the capital to make the film, but also the training facilities. Places like the Commun ity College, and the University are going to have to make this a very central part of the curriculum, so that the necessary facilities for training are in place, Tafari added.
The Bridgetown Film Festival takes place from May 6th -14th in Barbados, films from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, St. Lucia and Barbados will take centre stage at venues across the islands capital city.
Filmgoers can check out the World Premiere of Flight of the Mongoose, La JaBlesse and The Shoe s.
Featuring Caribbean Filmmakers such as Yao Ramesar, Chris Brownie, Michael Gilkes, Earl Maynard, Bongo Lights, Mathurine Emmanuel and others.