East Africa Focuses on Film as the Engine for Economic Growth and Socio-Political Integration


Awareness raising on East African integration among citizens does not only mean communicating facts about the Common Market and other pillars of integration. It also means to tell stories that touch hearts and minds, and that convey the idea of integration as a part of everybody’s life. In the emerging film market in East Africa, films are an excellent tool to reach out to many people.

Therefore, for the first time in 2014, the East African Community (EAC) with support of GIZ is cooperating with the East African Film Network (EAFN) on trainings on storytelling and film production techniques for East African film makers. The workshops take place during national Film Festivals in the five EAC Partner States, linking the training with the festival experiences and enabling the trainees to set up regional and international networks.

The first two workshops took place simultaneously from 17 – 19 June 2014 during the 6th Burundi International Film Festival (FESTICAB) in Bujumbura as well during the 17th Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) in Stone Town. The workshops focused mainly on storytelling as well as on technical issues such as directing, sound production, lighting and scripting.

“The importance of telling the African story through film has become indispensable. It is just unfortunate that most stories are still weak. African stories have to be told clearly, completely and in many volumes to move and overtake the mindset that the Western media have already put in people – especially those who have not been in Africa before,” said Akpor Otebele, trainer of the FESTICAB workshop and director of the Arusha African Film Festival. At the end of the three-day workshop, a 10-minutes movie on an imaginary – and gender-balanced – East African Soccer Team was scripted, filmed and shown at the closing ceremony of FESTICAB.

At ZIFF, workshop participants were trained by Biyi Bandele, winner of the Golden Dhow for the best feature film 2014 “Half of a Yellow Sun”, and Nick Broomfield, a documentary film maker. The participants learned about different angles of storytelling, especially on stories of the East African region.

The next training courses will take place during the Arusha African Film Festival from 20-27 September 2014 and the Nile Diaspora Film Festival at Jinja, Uganda, from 21-28 November 2014.