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The big picture: how film can fuel development

by Graham Sheffield.


A new documentary about the 2012 massacre of 34 miners in South Africa, Miners Shot Down, follows a group of low-paid employees as they fight against metals company Lonmin. The footage is reminiscent of scenes of battles between UK miners and police 30 years ago, one of the defining cultural reference points of Britain in the 1980s. Films are not only pieces of creative expression, they are also tools of communication and awareness raising, and a way of calling for social change.

The burgeoning African film industry is also a major economic driver. Recent figures released by the Nigerian government put the creative industries at 1.4% of Nigerian GDP, with “Nollywood” a major factor in this figure. The fact that the government has recognised the importance of the arts as a revenue earner is cause for celebration and the figure is higher if we take into account the informal nature of the Nigerian film industry. When the British Council asked a Nigerian filmmaker what single thing would improve his ability to do business internationally, he said contact with a market in Hackney, London. He ships 10 copies of his new DVDs there which then are copied and sold in newsagents and markets the length and breadth of the UK.

Read the rest of this article from The Guardian.

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