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Saturday, March 8, 2014

DATELINE LAGOS: MultiChoice on African film industries growing their own Woods: 'We have so many trees in Africa. Its about aspiration'.


John Ugbe, the managing director for MultiChoice Nigeria tells TV with Thinus that African countries and their respective film industries across the continent shouldn't be scared to grow their own Woods - so to speak - after the "Hollywood" moniker.

He also says African countries' film and TV industries shouldn't shy away from using their own adaptive "Woods" terminology to refer to their own film industries just because its borrowed from America.

John Ugbe is speaking on the day of the 2nd AfricaMagic Viewers Choice Awards taking place on Saturday in Lagos, Nigeria.

The awards ceremony has been established to recognise excellence in the film and TV industry across the entire Africa. The award ceremony will again be broadcast live on multiple AfricaMagic TV channels on MultiChoice's DStv platform across the African continent.

Nigeria's film industry has famously become known as "Nollywood" and several African countries the past few years have adopted - and adapted -  the "Hollywood" moniker into colloquial versions, ranging from Tanzania's "Swahiliwood" in East Africa, "Collywood" in Cameroon - and even "Ghallywood" in Ghana.

"We have so many trees in Africa. We have an even stronger claim to forests in Africa than Hollywood. If anything should be named with 'Wood' it should be Africa," says John Ugbe. "The 'Wood' is just an acronym to capture the essence".

"Its about aspiration. You wouldn't want to blame people for going 'Wood' in reference to their own film industry and Hollywood. It tells you where people making film and television in Africa - the industry - wants to go. And I think it's important".

"That's where a word like AfricaMagic is also so strong and powerful. It tells you that it is about inspirational content from out of Africa," says John Ugbe.

"We're seeing a lot of surprises in the entries for the AfricaMagic Viewers Choice Awards. People are telling their stories. And for a long time we've been saying 'Why not?' "

"A lot of what we saw from Hollywood was the interpretation of a lifestyle - and that's what we're beginning to see for Africa, but told in our way and from our own perspective".

"That is the next chapter of the African story: That we're not just scripting what we think it should be. We're now taking lifestyles from here in Africa, and cultures here, and building authentic stories out of that, and creating stories which resonates with viewers".

TV with Thinus also asked John Ugbe how important it is for MultiChoice to have people in the TV and film industry tell stories in their own indigenous languages.

"On DStv we have the AfricaMagic channels from M-Net in Swahili and Yoruba and these are localised TV channels resonating very strongly with our audience."

"We also think that this is a way of ensuring that we don't our identity by keeping those languages and growing it. You find that content done in local languages in many instances resonates more."

"People are able to tell very strong and even stronger stories when they're able to use African parables, the idioms in their local languages where they don't have to lose the essence of what they're really trying to say," says John Ugbe.

"Very strong stories are being told and as MultiChoice and the AfricaMagic Viewers Choice Awards we encourage people to use whatever language they want to tell their story".

"The biggest challenge probably facing African movie makers and the African film industry is probably structural and infrastructural challenges. However, the message is that creativity can overcome the infrastructural challenges".

Keep working hard. Keep creating. And definitely we will have much better quality and stronger stories coming out of Africa," says John Ugbe.