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Movies on the move in Africa

Motorbike-mounted cinemas hope to rebuild biz

Have motorbike…will travel.

In Africa a new European Union-backed mobile cinema project is hoping to bring movies back to the people in cities where theatrical exhibition has ceased to function.

War, piracy and economic crises have decimated cinemas in African, destroying the market for domestic and international films.

Now mobiCINE’s fleet of 14 motorbike-mounted cinemas that began working in Dakar, Senegal and Bamako, Mali this month is hoping to begin rebuilding a distribution network.

Backed by $700,000 in funding from an EU support program for African, Caribbean and Pacific film, a pilot project will market-test the mobiCINE system this year.

If it proves viable it will be rolled out throughout Africa, the project’s Beatrice Boursier told Variety.

“There is a big potential market — throughout Africa there is nowhere that people can come together to watch a movie together,” she said.

The three-wheeler motorbikes carry a box with a laptop computer and projector, a 25 ft screen, loudspeakers and a power generator.

Films loaded onto the laptop are encrypted for single use, opened with a digital token.

Screenings at schools, halls and other buildings are either sponsored by donor organisations or paid for by tickets priced at the equivalent of 50¢.

AfricaFilms.tv is also launching a VOD platform for Africa and the African diaspora worldwide with mobile-phone operated legal downloads priced at between $3-$7 a film.

Boursier said there is currently a worldwide audience of around 50 million for films from Africa or about Africa and that within three years there will be an estimated 500 million broadband-enabled mobile phones on the continent.

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