Cinema investments in Burkina Faso and Mali


At a meeting held in Cotonou, film directors from Burkina Faso (photo) and Mali shared their views on the local film and cinema industry.
What is the state of cinema of Burkina Faso?

HemaDjakaria, General Director of the Burkina Faso National Cinematography: Our cinema is doing quite well. As you know, the African cinema is facing funding and distribution difficulties. We need to meet these challenges in order to gain significant production in Burkina Faso. We developed a policy that focuses on training to support the film industry. This allowed us to create some training centers such as ‘Institutsupérieur de formation à l'imageet au son’ (ISIS). We also created another session that provides senior and middle managers. This session is housed at the ‘Écolenationale de l'administrationet de la magistrature’.
There are also private training centers that we support, such as the center of Gaston Kabore and ‘Imagine’ which provides tailored training and can help to producers and directors to develop their projects.

Apart from training, we have a policy to support production that is built around material support and resources to producers. We have a budget for support to film. We also have a support program for cinema exhibition, built around the capacity of movie theaters. We also established a project to renovate 13 cinemas which is in its infancy and in search of funding. With all these activities mixed together, we can now say that the Burkinabe cinema is doing well.

How many movie theaters are operating in Burkina Faso?

We currently have 12 cinemas that are active and which schedule regular screenings, including eight in Ouagadougou and four in the provinces. Occasionally, it also happens that some conference rooms are transformed into movie theaters.

Burkina Faso is a great country for cinema. Is the film industry positioned as a real player for development?

I will not say that the film industry manages to position itself as a development player, it's in perpetual motion. But gradually the local film industry contributes to the development of the country and especially of its visibility. Burkina Faso is known through its cinema. FESPACO is a window into the country where film actors are organized. There were a lot of production companies that were created through digital technology.

Can we talk about a film industry in Burkina Faso?

It is quite complex. We cannot speak of a film industry that produces only three or four movies a year, which only has ten rooms and a small portion of production companies who rely on EU subsidies. A film industry requires large production studios. However, a link to the film industry is being born. I am convinced that we will create a small production unit at the national level.

How is cinema doing today in Mali?

MoussaDiabaté, Head of Film Registry at the National Centre of Cinematography in Mali (Centre National de la Cinématographie du Mali -CNCM): The movie industry is doing as well in Mali as elsewhere in West Africa, that is to say moderately well. This is because the resources for film production are limited and that the processes for access to finance is difficult. But this does not preclude creativity. There are plenty of projects that are filed in our office, but there is a lack of substantial funds to support them.

Mali has a public film production center. How do you work with private producers?

The National Center is a state institution that renders a service to the public .... To this end, the center covers everything that relates to film and is a legal entity. We support local filmmakers in hardware, but also in human resources. There are many production companies that can approach us to seek our support.

How many theaters exist in Mali?

It's a shame there is only one cinema in Mali, that works full time in Bamako. All other cinemas have been closed. But there is hope, especially since there are plans to rehabilitated some as part of Mali’s heritage. Our policy is to encourage private players to come and invest in movies. From this perspective, there are two theaters that are being renovated.

What are the biggest names in Malian cinema today?

There are so-called older generation with SouleymaneCissé, CheickOumarSissoko ... There is also the new with SalifTraoré, SidiDiabaté, etc.. There are also young people who are still at their early productions and we are watching very closely to see what they can bring the cinema.

How many productions on average per year?

The National Centre for Cinematography produced in 2010/2011 two feature films: "Cobwebs" (Toiles d'araignée) and "Da Monzon" and a television series of 52 episodes and four documentaries. There are also private productions. But the overall production level is still below our estimates, which are about twenty films a year across all categories…I hope this will change in the coming days.

Interview by Stephanie Dongmo (Africiné) at a meeting organized by the “CinémaNumérique Ambulant Afrique” in Cotonou on 17 and 18 January 2012.