Gondwana City producer Catherine Guérin talks about comedy feature Welcome to Gondwana, the film’s streaming release and why they’ve given up on mobile

3 May 2018

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"Welcome to Gondwana" is the first feature film directed by Mamane, a comedian of Nigerienne descent who has made his way on to RFI radio and performed at the Jamel Comedy Club. The feature film tells the adventures of a team of electoral observers sent to a French-speaking African country, Gondwana, to monitor the organization of a presidential election. Between corruption and abuse of power, these slightly naive delegates discover the beauty of a country and how the wheels of a perverted electoral system go round. The story uses satire and humor to denounce the evils which bedevil African policy (nepotism, cheating, corruption, etc). The film’s premiere in Brazzaville was so popular that the cinema had to lay on an impromptu second screening for all those who were unable to get into then first.

Q: When was Welcome to Gondwana released?

A: Welcome to Gondwana was released in April 2017, in France and Africa, at the same time.

Q: In which African countries has it worked particularly well? How many cinemas are there in French-speaking Africa where you can see films like Mamane's?

A: The film worked very well everywhere it was presented. Côte d'Ivoire is the country where it has the best market in terms of admissions, since it is where there are the most rooms and where it has been present for several weeks. However, he beat the blockbusters in Congo Brazzaville where there is only one movie theater and where the film was only offered on a few sessions and also filled in almost all African countries. Movie theaters are slowly emerging again in Africa, thanks to the Olympia Canal and other private initiatives. The film was released in Benin, Togo, Mali, Niger, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal,

Q: How did you use social media to promote the movie? What is the reach (number of subscribers, etc.) that Mamane has on social media?

A: Our distributor The Wild Bunch distributor used a digital agency specializing in movie launches, and we relayed the news to Gondwana-City Productions followers - the major social media was Facebook. Many videos have recorded millions of views around the film. One of the starts Digbeu Cravate has over 100,000 likes on his Facebook page.

Q: How will it be distributed after the cinema? TV?

A: The fim was released on VOD in September 2017, and it has just been broadcast on Canal Plus Africa

Q: What else does Mamane do besides making thios film?

A: He does a lot of things: a daily column on RFI for 8 years with 30 million listeners every morning, author; producer of the successful, pan-African TV show The Parliament of Laughter; author and director of Football Prof; artistic director of many shows, and producer of the comedy festival in Abidjan (broadcast on Canal Plus Africa).

Q: What are the next upcoming Mamane projects in the next 18 months?

A: We have a recurring TV show, on Canal Plus Africa, which is hugely successful and continues throughout the year and of which Mamane is the writer, as well as many other TV projects with various broadcasts; a sequel to Welcome to Gondwana is currently being written. It will be a TV series, with the same producer Mandarin. We shot the season 3 of the Football Prof that will be broadcast during the football World Cup on Canal Plus.

We have our annual festival in Abidjan, Capital of Laughter, and he has shows in Africa and Europe (for example, at Sans Visa he has sold out a 1000-seater venue on 20 April in Paris).

Q: Are you still doing mobile content distribution?

A: Yes a bit but no, this is not an interesting business model for us, as comedy is a process of perpetual creation and renewal, and the income is quite low for the content compared to the time spent preparing it.

Q: What is the scope of this mobile distribution and what kind of revenue do you get?

A: It's pretty weak.

I do not know of any effective mobile content distributors in francophone Africa. I'm not an expert, but we can’t find any at the moment and I do not know any that produce African content.

Its website: www.gondwana-prod.com

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