Unpaid crew shuts down Namibia movie
JOHANNESBURG — Filming has halted on the Charles Burnett-helmed Danny Glover starrer “Where Others Wavered” after crew on the Namibian pic claimed they hadn’t been paid for a month.
Principal photography started April 25 in the capital of Windhoek on the movie about former freedom fighter Sam Nujoma (“Alias” thesp Carl Lumbly), who helped Namibia gain independence from South Africa in 1989 and who stood down as president last year. The Namibian government is backing the feature.
However, filming ground to a halt Tuesday — the day after Nujoma and Prime Minister Nahas Angula visited the set to officially launch production on the N$50 million ($8.5 million) movie.
The government allocated $2.5 million initially and had expected the Pan-African Center of Namibia (Pacon), which is overseeing production, to supply the balance.
However, Pacon announced in April that the government would provide a further $6 million.
Producer Abius Akwaake blamed the cash-flow problems on public holidays and the difficulty in tracking down government officials to authorize payments. He hoped difficulties would be resolved by the weekend.
The coin has been a sore point for some Namibians concerned about the amount of money the government of this poor country is spending on a film promoting itself, and about possible misuse of funds.
Burnett and Glover, both reported locally to have waived their fees, head a cast and crew, some with little or no experience, mostly from Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana.
Local newcomer Johanna Shikongo plays Nujoma’s wife, Kovambo.
Pic is exec produced by Uazuva Kaumbi, chairman of the Namibian Broadcasting Corp.
Nujoma said the film marked “another bold step by Africans to decide their own future destiny” and appealed to the business community to put up extra funding.
Speaking at the launch, Angula defended the use of government money for the feature, saying it would be a vehicle for launching the Namibian film industry and help local scriptwriters, actors and lensers learn extra skills.
Shooting will take place in Namibia; South Africa; and Cuba, where Nujoma, then leader of the Swapo resistance movement, met Fidel Castro during the final military push against the South African army.
The film will preem in Namibia on its Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, which marks the day in 1959 when South African troops opened fire against Namibians, triggering the start of the battle for independence.