Botswana: Botswana invests in Mma Ramotswe film


Botswana has invested about P31 million (US$5 million) in the filming of a movie The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency film and television series. The Weinstein Company will begin shooting the film on July 9. Places identified for filming include Gaborone, Gabane, Tlokweng, Mochudi and the Okavango Delta.

The movie will go on to become a 13 episode television series. The film is based on Alexander McCall Smiths global best selling The No.1 Ladies Detective Series, which marks a milestone in the history of Botswana.

Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila says the production will not only help promote the tourism sector but create employment opportunities for Batswana.

He says the film will help sell Botswana because of its geographical location as, countries surrounding it always overshadow it. He says the film presents a rare opportunity that will help fast track awareness on Botswana as a preferred tourism destination than the book has already created to the world.

Tourism is a very competitive sector. It serves as identity of people and the country. Thus the movie will help highlight the identity of the country. This is a real situation which will put Botswana on the map, he says.

Mokaila negotiated for the shooting of the film to take place in Botswana by lobbying with cabinet ministers in view of the opportunities the filming will create to the country. Producer of the film, Amy Moore underscores the importance of how the filming will help Botswanas young film industry. Botswanas young film industry is not yet seasoned enough to support a film of this magnitude.

And furthermore, the investment in the film will somehow create a film industry here, she says She says because of this South Africa was better placed as it would offer the financiers cash rebates to film there than in Botswana.

She commends the government for investing in the film. Your leaders understood that as filmmakers, we had to make an economic case for making the movie in Botswana, she says.

Ms Moore explains that 46 per cent of the people in the crew are locals. She says 28 Batswana have standing roles, nine musicians, 20 traditional dancers and 1,200 extras. She also notes that they are working with local film producers.

Academy Award winning filmmaker Anthony Minghella of The English Patient with the scripts he wrote together with Richard Curtis directs the film. Grammy award winning Jill Scot will star as Precious Ramotswe, the heroine who has become one of the most beloved characters in the book.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is a passionate story chronicling the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, the traditionally built, sensible and wise proprietor of the only female-owned detective agency in Botswana. She investigates cases, helps people solve problems in their lives, and falls in love with the highly respectable owner of a local garage.

(BOPA, July 5th 2007)