samedi 15 septembre 2012

Opinion: Filmmaking is beautiful

By Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni, filmmaker/critic/journalist.  

Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni

 Cinema is a chain of production from conception to realisation. From ideological concept to distribution and consumption. I am a Cameroonian from two regions. My Father was a Bangangte man and my Mother is from Mankon. At his youthful age, my father use to work in a cocoa and coffee plantation in Bafang in the West Region of Cameroon. Just like a sweet screenplay for a film, my father met my mother for the first time when he visited his younger sister in Bamenda. My father’s younger sister used to sell snuff and ripe bananas in the Bamenda Abakwa main market. My mother’s father (my grandfather) was a huge supplier of snuff and tobacco and my mother used to retail them. By chance, she was the supplier of snuff to my father’s younger sister (My Aunt) who traded snuffs and ripe bananas.

When my father saw my mother, he could not hesitate her natural and primitive beauty. At once he greeted and asked her name! My mother answered naively and refused to say her name. When my father insisted, she started crying, raises her head and looked at my Aunt straight in the eyes and told her that the Mankon tradition stipulates that when a man wants to know a woman, he should first of all know the woman’s parents. Or he should first of all ask the name of the woman’s father, and in that case, the man would be able to know where the woman comes from. Since my aunt also came from Bangangte, she laughed. My mother became furious and answered my father: ‘‘You were supposed to ask but my father’s name and not my name directly.” She continued with her head bowed: “I am a child from the Mankon palace and so it is prohibited by tradition to ask a woman’s name directly.” My father laughed. Since my mother was already uncomfortable, my aunt told my father in the Bangangte dialect to let go my mother and that if he wants to talk to her, she can arrange for them to meet a different day in a different joint. My father accepted and apologised to my mother.

On several occasions, my father visited my aunt in Bamenda and everything was well arranged and he finally got married to her. My father later married a second woman who was from Bafut and Mankon, a third wife who was deaf and dumb from Bafut. They all finally had 17 children before my father died.

This marriage as a union between the Former West Province and the North West Provinces of Cameroon can be liken to a whole chain of production in the Art of making films. That is from ideological conception to screenplay writing, the search of a producer, director, casting manager, set location manager, actors, cameramen director of photography, make up artist, editor, costume manager, sound technician, light technician, distributors, marketing managers to public relations Officers. 

What makes the art of filmmaking a beautiful and lively platform is collaborative work from positive people. In this above chain of production whereby, the absence of one person can cause a shamble, each profession should be respected as well as the professionals, while on set. Films like Malcom X by Spike Lee, Coming to America by John Landis, Les Saignantes by Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Titanic by James Cameron, Bicycle thieve by Vittoro de Sicca, Muna Moto by Dikongue Pipa, and Mr Bones by Leone Shuster were made by professionals who understand film ethics, concepts, movements, technics as well as film theories. I am strongly convinced that Cameroon cinema should follow the concept of the respect of the chain of production from first of all the culture of the Arts of filmmaking as well as collaborative working platform with not only Cameroonians, but different countries so as to make Cameroon films to go beyond borders. If not, Cameroon films would continue to be in the cooking pot. Then, one would continue to blame others for its failures.

Addendum: Next edition will ponder on a way forward for the Cameroon Film Industry.

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