Local filmmakers use new screens to grab viewers

With African filmmakers struggling to find auds in their home countries, a new project is hoping to build a fresh B.O. model for African films by taking the theater to the viewer.

This summer, MobiCine will introduce mobile movie theaters in two African cities in hopes of reigniting interest in local films through public screenings.

Organizers say the initiative will give African filmmakers a chance to reach local auds and develop a legitimate B.O. model they now lack.

“African filmmakers have no market abroad and are totally deprived of legal domestic theaters,” says Enrico Chiesa, associate director of the French company IDmage, which is behind the mobile cinema initiative. “Our goal is to reinvent a theatrical model adapted to people’s needs.”

In many African cities, the traditional movie theater has been replaced by the “movie hall,” where pirated copies of Western blockbusters are screened. Chiesa says MobiCine will offer screenings of African films in public spaces for small admission fees, with prices designed to compete with the movie halls.

A portion of the profits of each screening will go directly back to rights holders, offering a rare chance for African filmmakers to recoup costs at the B.O.

The first screenings will be held in Dakar, Senegal, and Bamako, Mali, in September. If successful, MobiCine will expand its operations in the two cities before moving to other countries in the region.

The project has received funding from ACP Films, the Jan Vrijman Fund, and the French embassies in Dakar and Bamako.

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