Swahiliwood: Researching Tanzania’s Film Industry

Swahiliwood: Researching Tanzania’s Film Industry

If you think there is no film industry in Tanzania, think again! Adding to the well known industries of Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood (Nigeria), there is another, well established but elsewhere unknown, wood- Swahiliwood. And it’s been around for over ten years!

MFDI is embarking on an exciting and innovative project, engaging the vibrant and growing Tanzanian film industry to coproduce feature films that embrace Entertainment-Education. The production process will focus on capacity building of local Swahiliwood filmmakers, and their Entertainment-Education themes will reach wide audiences via Swahiliwood’s vast distribution network.

We are now laying the groundwork for the Swahiliwood Project by doing research on the local film industry in five regions and developing the Swahiliwood workshop series curriculum. We are also building a state of the art filming and post production studio to facilitate the training. Read on to learn more about the Swahiliwood Project. MFDI-TZ in partnership with JHUCCP-TZ is embarking on an exciting project, which aims to harness the power of the growing Swahili film industry in Tanzania to deliver BCC and EE messaging on HIV/AIDS and Family Planning.

The Swahiliwood Project is very much a collaborative and mutually beneficial effort between Tanzanian Producers and MFDI-TZ. The Producers’ contribution to MFDI-TZ is access to their very successful film distribution networks for BCC/EE films. MFDI-TZ’s contribution to the Producers is production training.

The project will see popular Swahili filmmakers going through a series of workshops, walking them through the process of producing a film with a BCC/EE focus. Workshops will cover script development, preproduction, production, postproduction and marketing of films.

The workshop process will help the resulting BCC/EE films (which we are calling Swahiliwood Productions) stand out in the market due to higher production values. It will also encourage filmmakers to embark on their own BCC/EE projects.

The core participants for the Swahiliwood workshop series will be Tanzanian Producer/Directors, as they will be the ones responsible for the film as a whole. However, they will not be present for the entirety of all the workshops, but rather come in for general briefs at each stage of the workshop.

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort, and the Swahiliwood Workshop Series is designed to engage key members of filmmaking teams with the aim of:

1. Building the capacity of filmmaking teams in the Swahili film industry.
2. Bettering the production values of Swahiliwood projects, so that they stand out in the market.
3. Bettering producers understanding of what it means to produce a film to a BCC/EE brief.

We have over the last few weeks been doing comprehensive research on the Tanzanian film industry trends in four regions across the country: Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Iringa, Singida and Mwanza. The results are very promising, showing wide viewership of local films nationwide in a vibrant and profitable cultural industry that provides thousands of jobs for Tanzanians. And the best thing is, it is growing at a very encouraging rate. We will be publishing the final research report when it is done. Watch this space for more exciting developments.