Rhoda Gachũi
Studied at the United States International University - Africa
Kenyan journalist and documentary filmmaker

What do you believe is the beston-the-continent distribution channels? (DVD/film screening/etc.)

I would say that DVD is, because they are cheap. Going to the cinema has lost it's flavour with many people nowadays, because they can now download films/series' off the internet and burn them onto DVD. These “pirated” copies are cheap and affordable for the audience, who many a time cannot afford to keep going to the cinema, or simply, they don't have the patience to wait for a new film to come out. Films or series' are released much later here.

Rank the use of media and social networking for getting the news. For instance, in America, people are getting their links and news from social networking sites. Is that happening in Africa?

Yes, we get our news online as well - TV, Radio and print. This has been going on for a while. Our media are also on you tube, and from here they broadcast the repeat of the news for those who didn't manage to catch it the first time. Our media is also on facebook and twitter, where they interact with their audiences. Google Nation TV, KTN, Citizen, Daily Nation, Capital FM Kenya. These are some of our media that are online. They have websites and are also very active on youtube, facebook and twitter.

Are there significant differences in demographic use of television vs. DVD and internet?

I would say yes. Not everyone has access to the internet. Internet charges in Africa are still very high. You will find that people have laptops but still cannot afford to pay for internet. Many people in Kenya and I would think for most of Africa, access the internet via their mobile phones, which is cheaper but limiting as well. There are also cyber cafes that are also quite afforable. Many people do own television sets in Kenya, and even for those who don't, there are public places where they could watch TV, like the local bars or restaurants. DVDs are also very accessible nowadays, especially the “pirated” ones. Overall, I would say TV/DVD is more accessible than the internet.

How is the news perceived by viewers, does format affect how well people believe the news? For example, if it comes from television news is it viewed positively or negatively? Is Youtube and other crowdsourcing sites seen as more believable?

I think format here is not really the issue. It's the source of the news. There are those media sources that are trusted more than others. I mean, if the format is coming from the same source, say BBC or Aljazeera, whether its on TV or the internet, it's the same news. So it all depends on the source. I would like to add that western media is not very trusted here in Africa because many a times, they focus on the negative side of Africa, and rarely tell the positives. If it's positive, it's about wildlife. Africa is more than that. People here also want to see themselves in films. Meaning that, a lot of the films that have been produced about Africa and have made it to Hollywood, are not done by Africans. These films are usually missing the African point of view. So people on the continent are now, more than ever, telling their stories.

How do people share the news with each other? What is the relationship between twitter, facebook and other socialnetworking sites and the news?
Like I mentioned earlier, Kenyans are very active on social networking sites, sharing news, videos, you name it. We have even been featured on CNN for some of our activities that have generated interest with internet users from other parts of the world, such as the Makmende craze.

What organizations are on the ground to train and help emerging newswriters, curators and students?
We have universities offering media degrees here; also colleges offering certificate/diplomas in Media. There are also film labs that are usually held here in Kenya, where local filmmakers learn from each other as well as international filmmakers. Different organizations do this. We also have the Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF), which is held annually, they also run workshops. This is the main one but there are also other small film festivals running in Kenya. Might I add that I for one studied in Kenya.

Orla Ryan
Ph.D Film Studies
Wexford Campus School of Art and Design
Member of Executive Committee of the Carlow African Film Festival
Creator of Carlow Festival's Symposium

Why is it difficult for African filmmakers to distribute their films?

This came up for discussion once in relation to "Nollywood" cinema or Nigerian production and it was clear that there were alternative distribution networks through friends and family bringing DVDs back from Nigeria to Europe and then making copies etc.

What do you believe to be the best on-the-continent distribution channels?
In our case all our distribution needs were met through a government agency called Access Cinema whose remit is to provide access to foreign language and art house cinema.

What are the challenges of film/DVD distribution? (especially via the informal markets, such as online, DVDs, video theaters)
I am not sure in relation to African cinema because there are so many different types of film making taking place which changes how the issue needs to be addressed.

For example, foreign language rather than English; African cinema aimed at a politicized audience and/ or experimental avant garde (Bamako for example); Africa as a location as opposed to being an indigenous production and then the very different production values of 'Nollywood' were the quality can vary enormously in comparison to what we expect from the production values (by which I include script, acting, cinematography, editing) of Hollywood. Nollywood poses interesting questions. In relation to audience because to a wider audience often they will be seen as 'bad' quality and dismissed but the same film will be enjoyed enormously by a Nigerian Diaspora who are also very sophisticate in their understanding of the production values of Hollywood as standard but may be enjoy the films because of reminders of home etc.

VKD conducted interviews
JC, WL submitted questions

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