Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday implored players in the film industry to use their creative productions to change adverse perception and project a positive national image, which promotes the country’s rich cultural heritage and vast investment opportunities.
Officially launching the inaugural Varsity Film Expo at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo, he urged stakeholders in the sector to utilise their creative voices and imaging skills, to tell the Zimbabwean story in a positive way.
In line with the country’s renewed development trajectory, the President said film and movies should be deployed to motivate citizens to do more through increased production and productivity.
“I, thus, challenge stakeholders in the sector to use their various fortes to promote our rich culture, heritage and vision for the future by telling our own story, through our own perspectives, with our own voices and images,” he said.
“The film industry must further help to convey the true story of our great mother country by projecting a positive image,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said players in the film sector should desist from allowing their stories to be captured by those with ulterior motives.
“Integrity must remain the sacred responsibility of your field. To this end, avoid the easy way out and do not give up your chosen genres and narratives or betray acting in the national interest to satisfy project or film financiers,” he said.
“Remain emboldened by the fact that you are competent and well able to help shape and influence the future of our great mother country.”
The President noted that some players in the film and broadcasting space were using their talents and skills to denigrate their own country, its leadership and the African value systems, often at the behest and for payment by foreign detractors.
“I, thus, call upon the sector and our young people in particular, to refuse to use their skills and talent to promote national decadence and self-hate. You only have one mother country, which is Zimbabwe. Love it, promote and protect it,” he said.
The film, arts and creative industries play a critical socio-economic role with the sector having a potential to create more than 20 million jobs in Africa and contributing US$20 billion to the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), said the President.
He explained how the Government under the Second Republic, will continue to resource the Arts and Culture Development Fund to support the emerging young talented film makers and other artists cross the creative cultural industries.
In recognition of the various imperatives of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the quest to develop a knowledge economy, President Mnangagwa said his administration has taken a deliberate decision to include film, animation, cinematography, content production, drone technology, graphic design, sound engineering and creative arts in general as critical skills for the future.
“I, thus, commend the partnership between the Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Ministry, universities and the film and TV Resources Company for prioritising training of players in the creative cultural industry,” he said.
“The Varsity Film Expo and teacher upskilling programmes along with the ongoing capacity building initiatives being implemented at universities and colleges, must give impetus to the creation and consumption of our local arts, cultural, sport and recreation products and services.”
President Mnangagwa said the Film and TV Resources Company’s decision to set up and operationalise film and television hubs at universities buttresses Government policy thrust of establishing innovation hubs and industrial parks within universities.
“The programme will ensure the sustainable growth of the industry right from the grassroots in line with tenets of devolution and decentralisation as well as our quest to achieve development, which leaves no one and no place behind,” he said.
The launch of the inaugural annual Varsity Film Expo dovetails with the broadcasting digitisation programme underway along with other developmental initiatives set by the Second Republic such as the devolution agenda, heritage-based education 5.0, and a digital-driven economy.
Film industry players, said President Mnangagwa, must be guided by values of peace, harmony and love.
“Furthermore, the film industry sub sector and creative cultural industries in general is encouraged to occasionally reflect, introspect and self-criticise each other with the view of sharpening content that is more positive and developing the desired progressive national psyche,” he said.
The President said film and artistic expressions must lead to the perpetuation of the country’s rich cultural traditions and promotion of positive contemporary culture.
“The temptation of excessive broadcast of what is detrimental to sound social and cultural norms must be resisted, opposed and rejected. Films and artistic works, which are valueless, divisive, hateful and confusing to our good traditions and customs have no place in our country,” he added.
“In the same vein, locally produced content should promote family virtues, the values of upright living, moral integrity, hard and honest work, self-restraint, discipline and healthy living.”
President Mnangagwa said the film sector must also discourage society from corruption, violation of law and moral decadence.
He also lauded the India-Africa Trade Council for its expression to set up the Indo-Zimbabwe Film Commission to facilitate skills and cultural exchange for the growth of the country’s film and movie industry.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, among other stakeholders, have also been challenged to play their part towards unlocking the opportunities the Indo-Zimbabwe Film Commission has to offer.
President Mnangagwa also urged the private sector to invest and support “Proudly Zimbabwean” film and audio-visual, music, theatre and the visual arts industries.
“Similarly, the newly licenced players in the broadcasting space are urged to promote locally produced content. This is more important as our young people remain the biggest drivers of digital content and users of information and communication technologies,” he said.
The Government has expressed readiness to support ideas, innovations, talents and skills by young people in their chosen fields or interest regardless of where they live.
In the wake of Covid-19, President Mnangagwa urged the media to continue to sensitise the nation on the importance of vaccination and the need to adhere to public health protocols.
The Varsity Film Expo, which was spearheaded by young talented and enterprising youths, was held under the theme “Vivid: Amplifying Sustainable Development Goals using Film and Digital Media.”
The expo ends tomorrow.