By [email protected]
SIERRA LEONE, Freetown – Despite lack of a film policy to protect and regulate the industry, and protests from a subset of filmmakers who want a film policy before a festival, the Sierra Leone Film Council, co-opted by the Office of the Entertainment Ambassador, has organised a “Back To My Root” film festival with support from the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
Director Aiah Momoh, Co-Chair of the Sierra Leone Film Council said he is not oblivious to the importance of a film policy. “The industry can no longer continue without a film policy. We would lose the Sierra Leone film industry not having a policy,” he continued.
Director Aiah does, however, recognise the importance of a film festival as crucial, not only in the rebranding of Sierra Leone films, but also in providing a platform for filmmakers to have a stake in their own success.
This film festival, he said “is a result of us wanting to show Sierra Leoneans that we’ve grown from what they use to know our films to be. Before now people were saying Sierra Leone films are like Nigeria films, they are copying the Nigerian culture… but we’ve gone through that stage, and now we are at a platform where our films are beginning to compete. We want to first showcase it to our people because we want them to begin to look our films again.”
Besides rebranding, the film festival from an economic standpoint seeks to explore a new market. “We’ve been longing to tap into the corporate world,” said Director Aiah. He explained that the festival also seeks to attract those in the corporate world to patronize the art. “Most of the people who buy our films are from the grass root. The corporate world seek foreign entertainment we want them to know that we now have better films, with good pictures, good sound and good storylines.”
Furthermore, although the industry is yet to have a policy, however film festivals of this nature are a mechanism to sanitize an industry inundated with people who have no business in the arts, Director Aiah explained.
“We have lots of people who are not supposed to be in the business, they jumped into the business because they saw the business becoming commercially viable.” This is why “only films that are above the line would be shown. Most of the films not screened simply means they are not up to that standard,” this will urge directors and producers to up their game, he disclosed.
Director Aiah also acknowledged the domino effect of a thriving film industry in job creation and contribution to the GDP.
Co-Chair one of the Sierra Leone Film Council, Micheal I Kargbo underscored that the film policy will blossom the industry by serving as a legal framework that would set standards. Envisaging that “It would be strictly followed and we hope that it would bring the expected changes.”
“At present we have limited funding opportunities low market because the movie industry is not attracting suitable executive producers and producers that is because the market structure is porous.”
According to Michael when once things are in place “you will begin to notice that there would be people interested in investing in the industry; there would be marketing facilities; printing facilities locally.”
Adding that “it would also create cross-border collaboration and our movies would be sold beyond Sierra Leone and on several platforms such as Netflix.”
However, while Sierra Leone films sail towards a new dawn in filmmaking, the sector continues to struggle against the waves of lack of a film policy. OTG/4/4/2022