Yvonne Ncube, Showbiz Reporter
Chancellor of all State universities, President Mnangagwa is expected to officially launch the Varsity Film Expo taking place at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) on Monday.
Seven universities from across the country are set to compete for the annual championship.
The launch will also be graced by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, various ministers, senior Government officials and traditional leaders.
The Varsity Film Expo is an initiative of a Bulawayo-based company, Film and TV Resources led by renowned award-winning film director and cinematographer Kudzai Chikomo, along with seasoned businessman Kwanele Hlabangana.
The two partnered with Government through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology and local universities to deliver the programme.
This initiative is a big opportunity for university students to be involved in content creation. It is also crucial to the development and growth of the film industry in Zimbabwe.
Running under the theme: “Vivid: Amplifying SDGs through Film and Digital Media”, the 2021 expo has attracted famous filmmakers such as Eddie Ndlovu (Wenera), Stephen Chigorimbo (Studio 263), Memory Kumbota and Raisedon Baya, as well as university students, academics, content creators, media industry practitioners and policymakers.
Universities participating in the three-day event are Nust, University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, Lupane State University, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Great Zimbabwe University and Solusi University.
Each university will showcase at least two short films produced by their students. Morgan ZINTEC College students will also attend the expo but will not be showcasing any film.
In an interview, Nust director of communication and marketing, Thabani Mpofu said the inaugural expo marks the awakening of the sleeping giant which is the Zimbabwean film industry.
“It’s such an honour for Nust to be accorded the privilege to host the inaugural annual Varsity Film Expo 2021, a milestone in the history of the film industry in Zimbabwe which starts from December 6 to 8.
The expo dovetails with the Heritage-based education that challenges universities to put more attention to practicalisation of our teaching and learning, leading to innovation and industrialisation.
“The expo is an intervention to gaps and challenges highlighted in the Zimbabwe National Critical Skills Audit Report.
According to the report; the Applied Arts and Humanities cluster was dominated by skills which were less competitive in the global market and mostly redundant.
This is because the nature of available skills is concentrated more on analogue technologies instead of digital,” said Mpofu.
He said the report recommends focused prioritised training of creative arts and world class exhibitions thus highlighting the need to develop skills as well as innovative capacity for enhanced entrepreneurial and commercial skills to artistes and other service providers in the Applied Arts and Humanities cluster to enable artists to add value to their products.
Mpofu added that the talk sessions are meant to stimulate conversations and dialogue around local content creation for sustainable growth.
“In response to one of the strategies mentioned in the National Development Strategy (NDS-1) to increase Innovation for industrialisation, the organisers saw it fit to enhance capacity building in critical skills shortage areas across all sectors.
Film, animation, cinematography, content production, mass market drone technology, graphic design, sound engineering and creative arts have been identified as critical skills and future skills by the Government.
“As such, organisers of the annual varsity film expo, Film and TV Resources in partnership with the Government are embarking on a national programme called National Teacher Upskilling Programme which seeks to capacitate teachers and lecturers in our learning institutions and arming them with the requisite training and skills in the digital media and film,” he said.
The production of local films, Mpofu said, will lead to job creation and improvement of livelihoods.
“As projected in the recent report released by Unesco titled: The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth, it highlights that the film sector has the potential to create over 20 million jobs and contribute USD$20 billion to the continent’s combined gross domestic product (GDP).
“Therefore, Zimbabwe becomes the first country in the African continent to respond to this great opportunity through the launch of the annual varsity film expo and the National teacher upskilling programme. This programme is also in line with the objectives of the 2030 Vision,” he said.
Mpofu said the Varsity film expo will certainly go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Development Strategy-1 (NDS-1) as film plays a significant role in raising awareness and motivating action towards achieving set development goals.
“We, therefore, call upon all young people to take advantage of this opportunity to use their creativity and imagination to create short films that support the national development narrative towards achievement of an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030.
“The expo is being held at a time when a new strain of Covid-19 virus has been detected and reported in the Southern African region.
This is a strong reminder of the presence of the pandemic.
Therefore, strict Covid-19 measures will be observed during the expo. All invited participants will be required to produce a negative Covid-19 test and vaccination certificates.
“All participants will undergo Covid-19 testing on campus and there will be temperature checking, sanitising of hands, wearing of face masks and social distancing throughout the expo,” Mpofu said. – @SeehYvonne.