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Getting African Movies Into African Theaters Proves Difficult

A recent screening of the Sudanese movie "Beats of the Antonov" organized by the Goethe Institute at a local venue in Nairobi, Kenya.
Getting African Movies Into African Theaters Proves Difficult
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On a usual Friday night in Ivory Coast, movie lovers will choose between American-made blockbusters and French comedies.

It can be hard to find African-made films at movie theaters in Africa.

A limited number of African movies make it into theaters around the continent. But a new organization is trying to increase the number and inspire young filmmakers.

African Screen Network, known as ASN, opened earlier this year. It is trying to bring African films to African audiences. Steve Markovitz is a South African movie producer who started the network with help from the Goethe Institute, a German cultural organization.

Because of ASN, an award-winning film from South Africa was also available in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. It is called “Necktie Youth.” The film tells the story of young people in a Johannesburg suburb dealing with the suicide of a friend.

The promotional poster for the South African film "Necktie Youth."
The promotional poster for the South African film "Necktie Youth."

Bienvenu, an audience member, said he liked the movie.

“I liked the interracial friendships in it; it’s a good introduction to South Africa,” he said.

Bienvenu grew up in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. He watched mostly French and American movies. There were not many African-made movies available.

“I can count on my fingers the number of Congolese movies I’ve seen. I want us to be open on the world, but I also want the promotion of African cinema. We have a lot of actors, a lot of movies, but little resources, no marketing. They are not known,” Bienvenu said.

Khanyo Mjamba works with ASN. He said it is difficult to make sure African films are available throughout Africa. Money can be a problem. Also, producers do not always know someone who can help them get a movie played in a new city.

Currently ASN offers six movies to theaters around Africa. The films are from Kenya, Sudan, Ivory Coast and South Africa. A theater must pay a fee that is split between ASN and the film’s producers if it wants to show one of the movies.

So far, about 20 theaters in 16 countries are taking advantage of ASN’s offerings. ASN hopes it can reach 30 theaters by the end of the year.

The goal is not only to help movie producers earn more money. ASN also wants to inspire new filmmakers around Africa.

Mjamba said he wants to show movies that make people say: “Hey, I could actually make a movie like this, I could be daring and make a film that has never been done before.”

I’m Mehrnoush Karimian-Ainsworth.

Emilie Iob wrote this story for Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

What do you think about the attempt to get more African films shown in Africa? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

network – n. a group of people or organizations that are closely connected and that work with each other

daringadj. willing to do dangerous or difficult things

cineman. the art or technique of making movies

blockbustern. something that is very large, expensive, or successful

comedyn. a play, movie, television program, novel, etc., that is meant to make people laugh

interracialadj. involving people of different races

introductionn. the act of making a person known to others by name —usually plural