With MUHAMMED S. BAH
Welcome to another Edition of Arts & Music, the Column that seeks to promote Arts and Music in the Gambia. In today’s Column, actors, actresses and movie makers spoke to this reporter on the challenges they face in the industry. Read on.
Film makers in the Gambia have dilated on the challenges they face in the film industry especially when it comes to financing.
Actors, actresses and producers all lament on the challenging cost they face to produce a movie and call for Government support. The Gambia unlike other African states, does not have a strong arts and culture sector. Almost all movies and even sketches are foreign dominated and Gambian films films have to improve on many aspects especially in terms of quality, if they want to compete with their counterparts from others countries.
Speaking to Sheikh Tijan Sonko, a trained film producer, actor and entertainer said he started acting in 1997; that he has participated in many movies with foreign nationals from Nigeria and Ghana; that there are many challenges faced in the film industry in the Gambia, most especially financial support; that they are important in society because they educate, entertain and inform and that with proper support, the industry can fly the Gambian flag higher.
He said it is time their views as artists and film makers in the country be considered and taken seriously; that the industry will hardly excel if their views go unnoticed, whilst in countries like Nigeria and Senegal, both the young and old are involved because of the gains in it.
Sonko said to make a film, involves too much capital in order to make a good one; that in order to challenge outside film makers, the quality of the film produced in the country, must be up to standard and that this cannot be done in the absence of capital.
He decried that when film makers invest D50, 000 they will not get the available market for their products; that as film producers, they have to pay actors / actresses and camera men and or women among many others, beside the capital invested.
“The second republic actually neglected us. It has not created any platform that will promote productivity in the film industry. He film makers in the Gambia have potentials to sell the country’s films and raise the national flag higher, because the film industry contributes to national development as it generates income for the country. Gambian film makers are suffering because their work has been over shadowed by foreign films and this should not have happened,” he said.
He called on the current Government to work hand in gloves with the current executive, by creating avenues for them to function as an industry.
The Gambia according to him has never organised a film festival like other nations do and that the country has no film calendar. He call on the two Ministries that the film industry is attached to (Information, Communication and Infrastructure and Ministry of Tourism and Culture), to come up with initiatives conducive for such event to be held in the country.
Sonko also said Government must do all they can to assist them in their fight against piracy on their products; that this is the worst illegal activity that is killing their work; that they will not make any gain either for the nation or themselves, if this illegal activity continues.
Papis K. Jobarteh an actor who lives in Sukuta and native of Janjanbureh, said he became an active actor in the 2009. He also lament on the challenges they face especially the financing of their products which many people view as a waste of resources; that no help come from Government making their work very hard for them. All the others who spoke express similar comments and urged the government to intervene in order for the sector to rise and raise the national flag of the country.
Prince Babucarr Sankano a Gambian movie producer based in Germany also reiterated similar challenges and call for positive action towards promoting the film industry in the country.