Malawi film maker Joyah says bad economy, lack of market affecting local movies

Renowned Malawi film maker, Charles Shemu Joyah, has said Malawi lacks a market for local movies.

He was speaking when he addressed students of the two-week long Film in A Box Training in the capital city Lilongwe organised by the pan-African Africa Movie Academy Awards’ (AMAA) on Thursday.

Film director Joyah, who is famous for his touching Seasons of a Life (2010), a 102 minutes US$100,000 movie/television film told the students training in various disciplines of movie making that it was difficult to sell movies in Malawi for many reasons, including the challenging economy.

“You can imagine a genuine movie that sells at K2,000 in Malawi. There are a lot of challenges first because viewers would prefer to buy groceries or ndiwo (relish) with the money than buy the movie.

Joya: Lack of market for Malawi films
Joya: Lack of market for Malawi films

“Secondly, there are a lot of pirated and other foreign movies selling by vendors at as low as K500 and these are several in one, say 10 movies in one VCD or DVD. People would opt to buy these poor quality products over serious Malawian movies,” explained the  surveying and mapping scientist-cum-film director.

Probably Malawi’s best movie maker and co-founder of the Malawi International Film Festival (MIFF), Joyah has also produced and premiered his latest movie, The Last Fishing Boat which has also been nominated for international awards.

“I have been talking to the Nigerians here to see if we could find means and ways of finding a market in their country and that could help if we spread our wings elsewhere. Otherwise I can describe the Malawian movie market as very hard and tough,” he said.

Malawi art is also heavily dogged by piracy and lack of proper marketing strategies by movie makers also make the industry challenging.

Joyah was part of the Nigerian and Malawian team of film experts that trained and provided inspiration talk to the more than 250 students training in the commercial city of Blantyre and Lilongwe.

The Film in A Box Training course normally takes 21 days but the first in Malawi has taken 14 days, with four two short movies about life at a school campus and effects of social media , two documentaries on the accident prone Linthipe River and on climate change battle in Malawi, and a biography on HIV and AIDS have been produced by the students.

The course teaches acting, producing and directing, choreography, editing, and sound mixing among many other skills.

Certificate awards will take place next month in April 2013 and high profile guests, probably President Joyce Banda, will be invited to the event.

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