11 September 1997


Recommendations on the development of the Namibian film and video industry

Incident details


(MISA/IFEX) - Namibian film producers have released
recommendations and proposals to the Namibian Draft Film law
which the government circulated this May. The recommendations
were drawn up during a seminar held in Namibia from 28-30 July
1997. The recommendations and proposals were finalised on 10
September. The seminar was funded and facilitated by the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

**For background, see IFEX press release dated 22 May 1997**

The seminar followed discussions of the proposed film law by
several members of the Namibian film industry as well as input
from representatives from Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and South
Africa. During the seminar, participants had the opportunity to
clarify and define many issues and needs required to establish a
functioning film making industry in Namibia.

The Ministry of Information circulated in May a draft Namibian
Film Commission Bill. The bill proposes that "No film producer or
film production company shall be allowed to produce any type of
film in Namibia without a valid film production license". It also
proposes that licences be issued for "each individual film
production". The only exemption from licensing are certain
television programme productions "as from time to time determined
by the commission". The penalty for not complying with the
regulations would be a fine of N$2000 (US$ 456), and/or six
months' imprisonment.

Participants of the seminar felt that there should be a clear
separation between government activities and responsibilities of
the proposed film commission. This separation, they said, can be
defined as follows: "The Government will be responsible for
setting up a one-stop office for foreign film makers which will
streamline the procedures required for applications to make films
in Namibia for foreign productions only. This one-stop office
should be facilitated by the Department for Film Development
under the Ministry of Information. This will be a government
body/office enforcing the applicable rules and regulations."

The Film Commission should be established as an autonomous
statutory body made up of five to seven people appointed by the
Minister of Information and scrutinized by the relevant
parliamentary committee. Members of this body should be expected
to have relevant experience but disclose any interest in a
business or undertaking involving the making, promotion,
distribution or broadcasting of programmes.

Participants, therefore, recommended three clear objectives
regarding the law and policy:

a) An enabling environment was necessary to stimulate the local
industry, and that any future legislation and/or regulation
should take into account the differing needs for local film
makers who produce social documentary or wildlife documentaries,
commercials, short and feature length drama, ethnographic and
news and current affairs productions.

b) It was felt that news and current affairs productions made by
accredited practitioners should be at the present time exempt
from the rules and legislation governing film and video and
catered for under the procedures regulating the press.

c) It was felt that more could be done to raise income to support
the local industry from foreign productions, in particular,
commercials, wildlife productions and feature films, by any tax
incentives or levies.

To implement the above objectives, it was recommended that the
government establish a Technical Task Group (an interim body)
with representatives from the Ministry of Information, Ministry
of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Finance, regional
Government and representatives from the industry. The terms of
reference for the Task Group should be to review all current
legislation, rules and procedures and make recommendations
regarding the following issues:

1. The revision of the present fees and permit requirements for
productions made on land belonging to the Ministry of Environment
& Tourism. Any funds paid to the Ministry of Environment &
Tourism should be to the benefit of conservation projects and not
paid into the central government. The concept of filming fees
charged should then be applicable in the entire country and
should be done on sliding scales according to the number of
Namibians employed and the money used to assist in regional
development and/or training of Namibian film makers.

2. Namibia should enter into official dialogue with neighbouring
states to ensure a regional element and enter into co-production
treaties and formal cooperation with SADC states and other

3. It was felt that a training levy should be introduced on a
percentage of the budget of all foreign productions and
incentives introduced for taking on Namibians as trainees.

4. The use of a levy and or other film and video related finances
should be used to establish a Film Fund.

5. There needs to be representation of the government at regional
and Pan-African film festivals, markets and related events.

6. The Meeting mandated MISA and SADC to:

-make a submission to SADC on the regional media policy
-facilitate a seminar on regional cooperation at the upcoming
Southern African Film & Television Market in November 1997
-investigate the inclusion of entertainment law in the current
media laws initiative
-open discussions with the Harare Film School on the
establishment of a regional curriculum and other benchmarks for
-co-ordinate the production of an inventory of training resources
and training policies for the SADC region to enable partnerships
and the spread of expertise and resources to aid the support of
training institutions

7. The Meeting mandated the Producers Association to:

-take the decisions of the seminar forward to the appropriate
institutions and act as an interface between the industry and the
-investigate ways to assist Namibian producers and professionals
to attend the upcoming Southern African Film & Television Market
and any other regional and Pan-African events
-enter into dialogue with other relevant industry players in the
region to inform government to government dialogue and
-identify potential trainers and trainees

Enter into formal discussions with the Namibian Broadcasting
Corporation (NBC) to achieve the following objectives:

-An independent production window at the NBC
-The development of institutionalised co-production guidelines
-The setting up of a budget to commission independent production
-The use of freelance staff from the independent industry as a
supplement to full-time NBC employees
-Formal cooperation in training and course preparation
-The use of spare capacity at the NBC and more equitable access
to facilities
-The possibility of introducing regional windows and production
activities to encourage regional productions
-NBC to take a more proactive role in distribution

8. Multichoice Namibia was requested to investigate ways in which
it could support and promote a young film makers competition,
possibly in partnership with the NBC.

The Technical Task Group would need to report to a Liaison
Committee appointed by Cabinet consisting of representatives of
relevant line ministries and industry representatives.


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