Government this past week completed cross country consultative meetings for the review of the Cinematography Act to allow the film and television industry to contribute to the country`s Gross Domestic Product and improve the lives of Batswana creatives.
Globally, wealth of creative economy in sectors such as film and television are estimated to be contributing 100 billions of dollars,
Spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC), government held consultative meetings in Maun, Ghanzi, Francistown and Gaborone.
MYSC`s intentions were to engage local film and television producers to suggest ideas on how the new or updated Cinematography Act could be improved to better suit their present day needs.
In the last lap of the consultative meeting held in Gaborone this past week, MYSC acknowledged the need to take advantage of film and television as an industry as it can offer unconventional methods that stimulate innovation, create employment opportunities and grow Botswana`s economy.
Deputy permanent Secretary (Policy development and research) in MYSC Victor Paledi said: “Government has since embarked on a strategy for the diversification of our economy as well as creating employment opportunities, hence the need to encourage vigorous involvement and participation of Batswana in the creative sector. The reviews will lead to development of regulations governing the sector as well as help it grow.”
“Don’t try to write the law, suggest all the ideas that you can think of so that the Act can be relevant. Those who write the law will be instructed to put the ideas in more appropriate legal terms,” Paledi said.
Introduced in 1970, the Cinematograph Act was to regulate the making and exhibition of films and the licensing of cinemas among other things as production of motion pictures having been in existence in the country.
Policy Specialist (Arts and culture) Dineo Phuti said: “As Botswana we are still crawling in terms of developing the industry. There is need for us to have appropriate governance structures, one of the structures would be appropriate legislation, policies, implementing and even regulations that are fully resourced for us to reach our destination.”
“When considering the impact of productions, you can see that it is a win, in terms of diversification of the economy and it can bring foreign direct investment easily. It is an area in which we have to work together in order to achieve the desired goals; improving our livelihoods and ultimately improving the economy of country,” Phuti said.
Botswana film and television industry experiences setbacks ranging from lack of funding, scarce filming permits to a lack of coordination amongst film and television producers.
As there is lack of member organisations such as the Arts council, Associations, representing the views of a collectivel and government is unable to serve them individually.
Scarce training institutions offering training in film and television production is also another factor and there is a need for more activities in the country such as film festivals to provide a platform for creatives to showcase their productions.
As of June 2019, a review committee was set up after Cabinet gave the go ahead for the review of the Cinematography Act. Members of the committee included stakeholders in the film and television sector among them Botswana Film Association and Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS). Setting up of the committee involved asking for comments on what needed to be reviewed in the Act and get the best possible views of what people in the industry think.
Incoming General Elections have resulted in the benchmarking exercise being scheduled for November; however after gathering the necessary information the review committee will draft instructions to Attorney General to give guidance in terms of developing the bill and put it in more appropriate legal terms. The Ministry of youth expects the proposal to be taken to parliament later this year in December, as a Cap memo.