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Smartphone moviemakers take the limelight at African festival

“It’s not because you don’t have the means that you don’t dream,” says Guy-Serge Namane, a director at the second Bushman Film Festival, a cornucopia of global smartphone cinema.

Smartphone moviemakers take the limelight at African festival
Could your phone make you the next Spielberg? A film festival in Abidjan showcases directors whose movies are made by a smartphone.
The three-day festival, which ended Sunday and followed an inaugural event in 2017, received more than 5,000 entries, of which organizers said they retained 3,694 submissions that met the required format.

The Bushman Cafe, a verdant venue with hotel and restaurant, provided several movie theaters. Entries were submitted from all over the world, of which 350 were selected and a shorter list established to compete for five prizes.

“We want to show people that we can make films even if we, unfortunately, lack the means,” Namane said. 

“Should we stop? We’ve found ways to be able to express our dreams while waiting on God to give us the means to attract investors.”

The overarching aim of the festival, amply covered on social media, is to promote new talent.

The event included workshops for students and master classes with professional directors and conferences, but the main purpose was simply to show films.

One of the movies portrayed a crafty, streetwise hustler who used social media to boost the faltering career of a star, even as he divests her of her ... smartphone.

People like Namane went right on filming. His actress Berenice Irie weeps over the broken body of her lover near the swimming pool. Just a few meters (yards) away an evangelical pastor dressed entirely in white with an enormous cross on his chest stared inquisitively at the art gallery on another set.

Irie has already acted in several films made with smartphones and hopes she might be recognized. “For an actress, the work doesn’t change. You even get used to the mobile phone. At home, we practice making scenes with the phone.”

Inside the cinemas, audiences laughed loudly and cried out when startled and surprised by the ingenuity of the smartphone film directors. 

Topics: Guy-Serge Namane , Bushman Film Festival , The Bushman Cafe
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