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A discussion paper that will interrogate best practices around the formulation of  a Film and New Media policy is near completion, and will pave the way for stakeholder inputs in a series of workshops that will be convened by the Information & Media Development Directorate of the Ministry of ICT by the end of October. The Policy framework will seek to professionalize the sector and provide guidelines that will lead to the establishment of a National Film Office whose core objective would be to catapult Swaziland to becoming a competitive global filmmaking destination. It will also re-visit current film licensing procedures with a view to later usher in enabling legislation to replace the outdated Cinematograph Act of 1920. The spadework has already been laid to meet deadlines since the Ministry long began consulting core film and television- making stakeholders to unearth some of the pertinent issues. A draft Film Bill was prepared by the Directorate in 2007 with the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat, but had not gone through exhaustive stakeholder interrogation. The policy drafting process is expected to strengthen the draft legislation. A glimpse of the lucrative potential of a structured film environment was provided by the Kingdom’s first major filming undertaking when Swazi-born British actor, Richard E. Grant directed “Wah-Wah” around the city and country-side scenery in 2005. Based on his childhood experiences in Swaziland, the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and opened the Edinburgh to critical acclaim. It also received a gala screening at the East End Film Festival in London.                                                                                                                                                             

In the absence of existing structures, the Swaziland Government brought together relevant stakeholders to play their part. This included assurances that usage and appearances of local talent, physical structures, and other resources would be catered for in the filming budget. The extent the Government Intervention, including a drawn contract evidenced the industry’s potential for inter-sectoral employment and the need to further develop expertise and talent. Due to its relevance as a creative cultural industry, the Arts and Culture Policy of 2009 provides a list of some of the critical interventions that are necessary to assist in developing the local Film and Television industries.     

Richard E. Grant (above) directing the production

of "Wah-Wah" in Swaziland in 2005

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