The low-budget adrenaline injection which awoke the Danish film industry in the mid 90s is set to be applied to the African film industry.
That, at least, is the hope of Zentropa staffers Pia Severin and Pia Nielsen as well as filmmaker Vibeke Muasya (Birds Of Passage), who have thrown themselves into the development of an East African Film Institute with Kenyans: actor Sidede Onyulo (Nowhere In Africa) and director Judy Kibinge (Dangerous Affairs) among others.
The move comes against a backdrop of an exploding low budget film-making scene in Africa. In Nigeria, some 1,200 low budget video films are being shot a year. Dubbed 'Nollywood', the phenomenon is being spotlighted at the Berlinale on Feb 9/10
The Danish idea is to give African storytellers access to digital filmmaking, workshops and to some extend funding from Denmark in order for them to tell their own stories. The first board meeting of the East African Film Institute, which will have members from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, will be held during the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) from June 27-July 4, by which times the ground rules for an African Dogme model should be set.
Danish Dogme-director Annette K. Olesen (In Your Hands) and Dogme-expert-producer Ib Tardini (Italian For Beginners, Truly Human, In Your Hands) will be hosting a seminar and have been developing the new rules with Pia Severin.
Initially the project will be focusing on Kenya and Tanzania, which has a strong film infrastructure thanks to the film festivals ZIFF and African Cineweek, but it is expected to expand to the other East African countries.
Funding has so far come from the Danish Centre for Cultural Development, Zentropa and the Danish producer's association.