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Bringing The Cinema To The People - New Distribution Strategies For African Films In Africa

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 16, 2011 at 10:54AM

If the people can't get to the theater, then what do you do? You bring the theater to the people. And if a penny can be made out of any idea, you know someone will find a way to make it so.
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If the people can't get to the theater, then what do you do? You bring the theater to the people. And if a penny can be made out of any idea, you know someone will find a way to make it so.

A new mobile cinema project, backed by the European Union ($700,000 in funding), in the form of an organization called mobiCINE, is planting roots in a few African countries, with the goal being to, essentially, bring the theatrical experience to areas in which theatrical exhibition doesn't exist for any number of reasons - mostly economic.

How does the operation work? Well, mobiCINE purchases and equips motorcycles with a laptop computer (each with a full feature film loaded onto it), a 25ft portable screen, loudspeakers and a power generator, and you can figure out the rest, I'm sure. If not, watch the video clips at the bottom of this post.

Films on the laptops are reportedly encrypted for single use, to prevent piracy.

The project first took hold recently, in Dakar, Senegal and Bamako, Mali; and, thanks to the success being enjoyed there thus far, mobiCINE plans to market-test other regions, both in Africa, as well as countries of the Caribbean.

"There is a big potential market," said Beatrice Boursier, a representative for the project.

Yes, I'm sure there is.

In a related story... Nigeria-based Iroko Partners is aggressively taking Nollywood movies into the digital realm, after signing an exclusive content partnership with producers of Nollywood titles and video sharing site, YouTube, and will reportedly serve as the website's official Nollywood partner, featuring full-length movies, all very much in line with YouTube's recent increasing shift towards long-form video. I featured Iroko's YouTube channel on the old site, but HERE it is again, if you missed it then.

And lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the several million broadband-enabled mobile phones within Africa (sure to increase over the next few years) - many of which will be used to download and watch some of the above movies, and other web-based/digital content.

In the clip below, reps from mobioCINE talk about their project, and give you a look at how it works:

And in this clip, we see footage of the project's very first screening event. As you can see, they watched Kirikou Et La Sorcière (Kirikou And The Sorceress).

This article is related to: Screening Sighting


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