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visual artists urged to work with filmakers
AfricanColours - firstname.lastname@example.org
October 23, 2004
of African Images, Towards a Collaboration Between Visual Artists
and Filmmakers in Zimbabwe" - 5th September 2004, Harare,
organized by Zimbabwe International Film Festival in Collaboration
with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
Do African filmmakers
appreciate the importance of incorporating visual art into their
film productions? Do African visual artists realize their value
in the film production industry? Is there a place for "art"
films in Africa?
The above questions
came out at a Harare workshop were a group of local visual artists
met filmmakers from France, Japan, South Africa, DRC and Zimbabwe
to discuss about engaging visual artists for purposes of incorporating
their work into moving images.
The audience heard how
a handful of African filmmakers have dared tackle their stories
using the visual images by African artists as backgrounds in films.
The forum also looked
at various ways of encouraging the use of art in film in order to
produce rich African tales. However, many among the audience felt
that it was high time that African filmmakers appreciated the use
of visual arts to produce exciting and visually engaging African
Invited guests heard
the disappointing reality that despite the potential of African
contemporary visual art images to transform the way audiences see
movies if properly incorporated into film production, few filmmakers
across the continent were still reluctant to engage in the business
of "arty" films. Many participants in the discussion
forum felt that "arty" films were popular overseas than
Visual art forms such
as sculpture, painting, metal art, still remain largely an unexplored
area by the African film industry. Even leading musical names in
Africa, who have the capacity to produce videos enhanced with artistic
visuals have largely ignored the use of visual artists in their
products. Usually, their performance stages appear unimaginative
particularly in Zimbabwean situations where musicians do not readily
accept criticism of their poorly designed stages.
A guest at the discussion
urged filmmakers thus: "As African filmmakers you must use
our culture and traditions to help built an identity with African
films because these aspects enhance the African identity within
Endowed with alluring
rich textures, the artistic resources, particularly the medium of
Zimbabwean stone sculpture, which has been acclaimed the world over
since the sixties, remain largely unrecognized as a catalyst to
the popularization of African film.
Everybody present agreed
that there was need to harmonize the visual art and film sectors
with a view to create and promote contemporary artistic films. But
there was a hindrance factor, which arose from lack of appreciation
by the people who had the means to incorporate the images.
"Some years ago
I attended a music show by one of the leading Zimbabwean singers,
who I recommended the use of a well designed backdrop for his stage.
He shocked me saying: "For these people, I don't need
to do much".
Another visual artist
said: "Only a few months ago I had the opportunity to be approached
by a well known female filmmaker. She asked me to come up with visuals
for her film, which I did. But she went on to use the visuals in
her film without paying me, and she has never said a thing about
Some participants sited
tight budgets as the major reasons why most filmmakers in Africa
are not yet ready to utilize art in their films. "The other
problem is that when the artist is used, it is either for free or
half the fee paid to others mainly due to insufficient budgets or
the general notion that the visual artist does not need much money
The meeting heard that
the incorporation of African visual art into African films ensured
a good approach to making "African movies" for the continent
and the world.
a well-known visual artist who has worked in the Zimbabwean short
films said that Africa lacked the production of real African movies
- ones that depict Africa through genuine African visual art images.
His view was that the
fusion of African contemporary images would mean that film productions
from the continent were exclusive in their portrayal of messages
that would make them excel in the world of entertainment.
Kenji Shiraishi, a Japanese
filmmaker told the workshop that throughout his travels in Africa
in recent years, especially at Carthage (Egypt) and at Fespaco,
Ouagadougou, he had never seen a film on African art or artists.
Kenji (and all the others
present) believes that incorporating African visual art into films
could help in creating an identity and definition for African movies
and thus add value to their marketing abroad. Kenji said that it
was "up to this day difficult to define African cinema".
"At Fespaco someone said that an African cinema is something
directed by a African", he said.
Doreen Sibanda, curator,
visual artist and arts consultant who chaired the proceedings on
the day urged African filmmakers to start incorporating contemporary
visual arts such as sculpture into their projects. She said that
the use of visual art backgrounds played a major role in enhancing
the outlook and marketing of film products.
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