MOLLYWOOD IS ON THE RISE
In Mpumalanga – where the creative arts industry has not exactly boomed yet – local artists have to take extraordinary measures to make their mark in the cut-throat movie business.
However, the industry has seemingly gained support form Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, which means that creative and cultural arts at last have the potential to be a “critical economic engine” for the province.
Mabuza has instructed the departments of economic development and tourism; arts and culture; and sport and recreation to investigate the prospects of establishing a provincial creative industries body to facilitate, promote and support the movie production industry, among other functions.
Nationally, the movie industry contributes about R90.5 billion or 3% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs mostly younger people under 34 years old. Although its impact in the province has never been researched to determine its contribution and standing in the economy, local actors are adamant it is creating jobs.
But owing to a lack of funding and institutional support, at least from the provincial government, its growth has been stunted.
The sector argues that indifference thwarts their potential to unlock related economic activities and to increase the province’s GDP.
City Press visited the production studio of a filmmaking company in Block C village outside Malalane in Mpumalanga, a tiny back-yard bedroom in a rural village – roofed with corrugated iron sheets – that becomes a furnace on a hot sunny day.
Twenty-five-year-old Nkosinathi Mbalati’s bedroom is the production studio for Nkomazi Hustle Productions – the company he founded with four of his friends in 2014. This is where two movies have
Why is there so little funding from provinces to support and promote movie industries focusing on local content and languages?
SMS us on 35697 using the keyword MOVIE and tell us what you think. Include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50 Mbalati said.
Mabuza said the province was ready to join hands with the private sector to develop the industry.
“It is important that, as government, in partnership with the private sector and other stakeholders, we harness this industry,” he said.
“The industry has ample opportunities for income and employment generation along the production value chain, including exhibition, marketing, manufacturing, distribution and consumption,” he said.
Government, said Mabuza, was also planning to establish a cultural hub in Mbombela as an anchor project to leverage investment and support for the development of the creative industries in Mpumalanga.
Letshela Jonas, economic development and tourism spokesperson, said a programme of action would be developed at the beginning of the new financial year.
Meanwhile, Goodenough Mashego – a book writer, film director and record label owner based in Bushbuckridge – said political will was lacking to develop Mpumalanga’s creative industry.
“All government needs to do is to compile a database of creative artists and come up with a strategy,” Mashego said.
He said artists – particularly musicians, film makers and writers – were not getting support from local radio stations and film institutions.
“This tells you why there’s no Swati, Pulana [a dialect linked to Pedi spoken in Bushbuckridge] or Shangaan movie.
“Music produced by local artists is also never played on locally based radio stations such as Ligwalagwala FM. Although the Mpumalanga government does buy some books from local writers, [the writers] gain nothing when someone pays membership to a library and borrows it,” Mashego said.