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London film premiere of “Woman”. What next for Cameroon film industry?
There are hopes the sleepy Cameroon film industry is on the road to revival after the red carpet Launch of the film “Woman”, written and produced by Cameroon film maker Goretti Etchu-Egbe. The Odeon Cinema in Greenwich, London, hosted the event last Friday March 4 2016. It was the first time a Cameroonian film was being premiered in London. More than 300 Cameroonians in the UK and around Europe also had a chance to walk on a film launch red carpet. Most of the movie actors based in Cameroon where the film was shot either did not get visas or got them on the day of the event and so could not attend the launch.
Chris Nasah, president of UK based registered charity Cameroon Forum was certain the London premiere was a good step in the right direction. “I think that the film industry in Cameroon has the potential to grow but a lot of work still has to be done. The key thing is that whatever is to be done, it has to be done in such a way that is sustainable. For anything to also happen, it has to be private sector-led in partnership with civil society and government. The Cameroon government needs to provide an enabling environment for the film industry to develop.
Film maker Goretti Etchu=Egbe was the star of the night and set the pace for the colourful dress and fashion that was on show on the red carpet. She said put simply; “WOMAN is a story that follows the journey of three different women and their romantic relationships. There is a married couple, a concubine type couple or what we call in Cameroon come we stay and a single lady whose (romantic) choices are questionable. The film is a mirror into their relationships. On how she had the idea for the film, she said “WOMAN was inspired by a facebook post. I was reading something and put up a question asking my friends what will you do if your husband’s mistress knocked on your door? You can imagine the responses I got. They were just out of this world and I thought it would make for a very great movie and that is what inspired WOMAN. I just started writing.
It took more than two years from a short film before Goretti eventually shot the full length film in Cameroon.
Oben Miranda who flew in from Germany and was the guest presenter said she was highly impressed with the end product and the issues the film raised. “It is amazing and I sit there and love the feelings I get. You know from when the movie starts, you have gone to a lot of movie theatres in your life and you sit there and a Cameroonian actually produces a movie and has it premiered in a main theatre in London in a full hall. When I look at the scenes in the movie, I love the uniqueness in a woman. Women have many things which they share but if you look at every single woman, there is also something different.”
Tanteh Vitalis, Treasurer of UK based charity Citizen Outreach Coalition which supports the work of African artists, was also ecstatic in his response. “We support initiatives like this which projects African communities in the UK. It is good because films like this record the life histories of these people which is relevant even though they are miles away from home. Citizen Outreach Coalition was created among other things, to support initiatives like this. We hope to work with many other African films producers so we can document and keep British African history so that future generations can learn from their life stories.”
Mirelle Baya and Evans Boma , brought a fashionably light touch to the occasion when they acted as self-appointed “fashion police” checking and complementing mostly women on the wide range of dresses and hair styles that were on display on the red carpet.
SOBA UK president Akoh-Arrey Ayuk was among the hundreds of star guest who attended the launch. In typical Cameroonian style, the evening ended in a nearby London Cameroon pub where the symbolic Launch cake was cut.
Goretti promised the film launch will move over to the USA and eventually, to Cameroon