Film industry: On the verge of collapsing?
The local film scene is torn between actors who want to produce fast and low quality movies to make a quick buck and those that want to spend a good budget on movies that can compete on the international market.
The Namibian film industry, which is dominated by short films and documentaries, has been the lowest form of entertainment to the Namibian TV fanatics. Short film director, who directed films like Tjitji: The Himba Girl, Oshosheni Hivelua says there are amazing things being done to bring local films to the required standard. She points out that having a good idea is not enough to make a good film. She puts emphasis on the fact that there are usually not enough funds to make films. When films are made, camera accessories, lightning, grip and post equipment are very expensive or not available, comparing the entire production process to trying to make a N$5 million movie with N$800 000.
“It’s very true that Namibian films are below the requisite international standard, looking at the technical issues with most film productions. To drag the already-sinking film industry to the trash can, the actors are pretentious. They lack emotion,” said Hivelua, who is also an acting coach. She adds that local actors, mostly the young ones, don’t know themselves and thus cannot tap into their emotions.
“Actors must expose themselves and to be able to do that they must know themselves.”
Lynn Strydom, who is also an acting coach says, “Acting is not pretending, but becoming and to be able to tap into emotions naturally.”
Strydom believes that with time, practice and the right tools, actors will perfect in the art of acting. She wants to empower local actors with the necessary skills and expertise, and therefore she, along with her partner, Aleksandra Orbeck-Nilssen, a method coach, created an organisation called LA acting. Through LA acting, they teach different methods of acting.
Katutura, a movie directed by Florian Schott was the only 100% Namibian movie to be screened at the Ster Kenikor Cinema. This has also been a movie that received many plaudits from locals for being one of the very few films with good quality and acting talent. According to Hivelua, the reason that other locally-produced films don’t get screened at the cinema is that they “don’t meet requirements Ster Kenikor deems acceptable.”
Hivelua also adds that the cinema mostly promotes high budget films and that local films are mostly art house and documentaries. But in a true sense, with 15 minute ‘films’ focusing on traditional lifestyle of local cultures mounting up in the film scene, there is no way most Namibian’s are interested in paying to see a screening of a local film.
“Local cinema culture is not supportive of locally produced films, and they would rather pay a lot of money to go see an international film rather than attending a screening of a local film.” Lynn Strydom says.
Local film director, Tim Huebschle, says there has been a rapid improvement in the local film industry over the last 25 years. In his opinion, the industry will remain small because local actors don’t do acting as a full-time job. With the reason behind that being that there is no guarantee of success for a full-time actor in the struggling Namibian film industry. Some of the films produced locally are Looking for Ilonga, Expecting, Try, Dead River, The bank tools, Tjiraa, 100 Bucks, Everything she ever wanted, Time, and a few more films that run in a time span of approximately 15-30 minutes.
Huebschle, who recently released a DVD compilation of films he directed, says the reason Namibian films not being in cinema’s is that, “it’s very costly and most local films are only on DVD and not on prescribed format.”
Huebschle says that the film industry would grow if a film school is established and actors learn the more skills and expertise. He further suggested that actors would have to be doing acting as their primary source of income. Hivelua, Strydom and Huebschle are united in the opinion that saying the local film industry is getting there. Regardless of the slow speed at which it’s moving, they are hopeful that a few years from now Namibia will be producing some of the best movies the world has ever seen.
By Donald Matthys