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Interview: “Movie-making Started In Cameroon In 1962”

Vitalis Otia Suh, Board Chair of Collywood (Cameroon Film Industry), revisits the history and evolution of film-making in Cameroon.

When and why did you come up with the idea of creating a film Industry in Cameroon?

The idea to create a Cameroonian film industry came as far back as 2008 when we met at the Alliance Franco Camerounaise centre in Buea. This was because stakeholders in  the Cameroon film industry at that time thought they should come together, exchange ideas, share expertise, sell and buy their different talents and resources because not everybody is equipped with all what it takes to do a movie. Movie-making is group work. You need people who are specialists in different domains.

What strides have you made since 2008, and how many movies so far?

The Cameroon film industry which we have named ‘Collywood’ has been moving forward. Before this time, people were doing a lot of mediocre productions. Everybody was satisfied in his own small corner and thought what he is doing was the best. But when we came together, we came to understand there is much to learn. People were introduced to other websites and film schools where they could take short courses. As we speak today, the quality of our movies is one of the best in Africa.

For the past two years, we have had two films that have won more than 30 international awards in film festivals around the world. I am talking about Ninah’s Dowry that was produced in the Sabga Hills. All the crew and casts were Cameroonians. Beleh is another movie done in Limbe and shot in Small Soppo in Buea. This one has just received its 10th award in Germany. We have had over 200 movies.

Movies began in Cameroon in 1962. What has gone wrong that Nigeria and Ghana have

dominated Cameroon in the movie industry?

The movie done in 1962 was between Cameroon and France and it received a lot of support. A fund to support cinema existed but it was later closed down. Secondly, technology was slow. They used outdated reels. It could take two years to produce a film. Cameroonians are smart and active; hence if we can receive support from government, there will be a change. We will sweep all the unemployed from the streets. There will be no rush for State exams.

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