Filmmakers urged to explore online opportunities

HARARE - Leading African film makers say their Zimbabwean counterparts must embrace technology if they are to win the war against intellectual piracy.

Chike Maduegbuna, the Nigerian founder of Afrinolly,  an application that facilitates access to films on mobile phones and Kahenya Kamunyu the chief executive officer at the Able Wireless Company in Kenya, told a workshop for aspiring filmmakers in Harare last week that piracy demands innovative solutions.

The two famous information technology experts were in Harare as resource persons for The Media Diversity Campaign’s “Online film and television distribution workshop”.

Kamunyu, whose company provides video on demand services to the middle and low income people in Kenya, said filmmakers have to resort to technology because governments which have the power to curtail piracy are losing the war.

“As long as the government is unable to control piracy, it will never stop. No one else except the government will ever stop piracy,” said the Kenyan information guru who has collaborative arrangements with Sony Play Station, YouTube and Al Jazeera.

Kamunyu is confident that his company’s services will help eliminate the need for pirated movies as he will provide cheaper access.

“In real sense pirates make more money than broadcasters,” he said.

Nigerian Maduegbuna, whose mobile application allows people to watch, download or upload clips of movies and music online, says in addition to curtailing piracy, providing movies and music online provides wider and easier access.

“Imagine cinemas trying to serve 1 billion people? Cinemas can now only serve just a few people, whilst the rest can watch online. Afrinolly has made a long lasting partnership with Samsung and MTN to broaden the use of our application,” said the Afrinolly founder whose facility is accessible on android, iOS, blackberry, windows and Nokia smartphones.

While supportive of Internet and mobile distribution of films, playwright and theatre director Cont Mhlanga, however, urged the young filmmakers to build a solid foundation first before considering distribution issues.

“Distribution is all about cash so for a sale you have to have infrastructure,” said the Amakhosi Cultural Centre director.

Brenda Matanga, a legal practitioner who specialises in intellectual property rights, told the workshop that not many artistes were seeking her services.

“Artistes are not pursuing any intellectual property issues with me, I have only dealt with telecommunication companies,” she said to her audience.

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