President Joyce Banda has promised that her leadership would do anything to help create a ‘Mallywood’ in Malawi.
She was speaking when she presented symbolic certificates to graduates of the Film in a Box, Africa Film Academy under the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) program.
Banda, joined by the First Gentleman who was said to be very passionate about movies as well, said Malawi was geared to being a nation of achievers alongside other African nations as far as the arts were concerned.
“As Malawians I know that we are very gifted and artistic. What is lacking, however, is the springboard. I have seen beautiful art exhibited locally and internationally, great works of art by Malawians. I believe we can do better and join Hollywood, Nollywood, Bollywood and create our own Mallywood or whatever to showcase out country,” she told about 200 graduates at the Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.
“Let me thank you from AMAA, the ministry of tourism, and all other partners in this endeavour. Next year I would be overjoyed to watch our own productions when we hold our first ever film academy awards as was learnt from the March event when Malawi hosted the Africa Film Academy nominations. I am optimistic that we have talent and that we are headed for great performances from these young people,” she added.
The President also thanked the Film Association of Malawi for partnering with AMAA and bringing the courses to the country. She also donated an undisclosed sum of money to help in the transportation of the graduates, who received K10, 000 each and some money was left behind.
Also speaking was the tourism industry minister, Rachel Mazombwe Zulu, who acknowledged that her ministry and other departments did their best to ensure that the trainings were as expected.
“We are happy that we have come to this exciting end. This is not the end in itself as we plan to continue to train more film makers in the country,” she said.
One her part, AMAA executive director, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, said she was excited to be part and parcel of the rejuvenation of the Malawi film industry and that she was always ready to lend a hand.
“We know that we need to do more to make Malawi a film destination. Currently a colleague from America was here and we took shorts of the lake and the mountains in Mulanje/Thyolo and Malawi has great scenery for the movie industry.
“We shall be showcasing a lot of these pictures globally and also will be showing one of the short movies made by the graduates here. Let me also inform you that we have taken one of the scripts from these students and we shall soon be shooting a movie from it,” she said, informing the president and the gathered government officials and graduates that the rest of the certificates would be given out during the aftermath party at the Golden Peacock Hotel.
“I encourage the graduates here to make more movies that will sell Malawi’s tourism and showcase the Malawian natural beauty,” she added.
Despite the President’s assuring words and support, it was discovered that Film Association of Malawi representation was conspicuously absent and its president, Ezaias Mkandawire, expressed ignorance of the high level event.
“They have been sidelining us for some time now. When I called them all this week they have deliberately ignored my calls and am sorry to say that we have neither been informed nor invited to the event. The Nigerians have their own agenda, perhaps, but as partners since we started we deserved at least to be informed of the event,” he said from his office.
Throughout her speech, Anyiam-Osigwe did not make any mention of the association, but listed several other partners and donors including Airtel and the Golden Peacock Hotel in her thanks.
Back at the hotel, again, the Nigerians sat down at the reception signing the certificates as the graduates loitered around, waiting the entire afternoon till around half four when one of the Nigerian trainers called them to the car-park to start calling names and giving the certificates amid murmurs of dissatisfaction from the graduates.
“Peace talked of an aftermath party but nothing has happened here. We also thought the certificates presentation ceremony would be dignified and not like this, giving us certificates from the car park leaning on other people’s cars. Why did she have to lie in front of the president that there was an aftermath party? This is so stupid and lack of respect for the Presidency,” said one disgruntled graduate.
Some of the graduates still had to wait close into the evening for their certificates.
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