Ms Sikaando said it was the first time that the people in the village had seen a mobile cinema. “Chinese activities are welcomed here in Zambia. Actually, we have been familiar with Chinese people for a long time,” she said. During the screenings in ...and more »
A mobile cinema screening domestic films has proved popular with villagers in Zambia, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Senegal
A film screen on wheels that has been touring villages in the West African country of Senegal has been giving locals the chance to catch up on the latest Chinese movies free.
Fourteen screenings of Chinese films dubbed into French were held in seven villages around the Senegalese capital of Dakar and the inland city of Thiès on 12-18 July.
Apart from kung fu movies, which have long been popular with African audiences, other lesser-known genres popular in China such as animations, fantasy and romantic movies were also screened.
Some of the films reflected contemporary popular culture in China.
Senegalese viewer Coumba Sarr said many of the themes resonated with her despite the vast distances between the two countries, especially those dealing with the complicated relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.
Around 10,000 people attended the screenings, according to StarTimes, a Chinese digital TV service provider and organisers of the programme. As part of the Carnival of Chinese Films and TV Dramas project, 61 screenings have been held in 22 villages in Zambia, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Senegal since its launch in July 2017.
The villages often lack recreational activities, according to Liao Lanfang, chief executive of Top-Star, the Zambian branch of StarTimes. Many of the villagers do not have a television at home and some of the more remote villages have no electricity.
So the arrival of the mobile film van, equipped with a large LED screen, lifting gear and a back-up power source, often garnered great interest.
Children at Chawama, Zambia, welcome the mobile film bus on 11 July 2017 Credit: provided to China Daily
“The van was surrounded by children when we entered Makuluku, a village near Kabwe. They ran after the van and started dancing following the roadshow music,” said Wang Qian, a StarTimes employee who took part in the screenings in Zambia.
Last July, Ms Wang and three of her colleagues visited 12 villages and suburbs surrounding the Zambian cities of Lusaka, Kabwe, Ndola and Kitwe to do screenings of domestic hit movies such as Monster Hunt, SPL 2: A Time for Consequences and Finding Mr Right 2.
Ms Wang was deeply impressed by the eagerness of the audience to learn more about the outside world. In Zambia, there are only four cinemas and approximately three million television sets in the entire country, according to Mr Liao.
“We needed to at least provide them exposure to this kind of entertainment. This is what the people of Zambia need,” one of the local staff members said.
Since there are more than 70 dialects spoken there, the team relied largely on local staff to translate and help communicate with the local audiences.
“Once, when the van got stuck in the mud, the local villagers and staff members helped push it out,” Ms Wang said.
The projections were usually held between 10am and 7pm. Children made up the majority of the audience members during the daytime while their parents were at work.
Faustina Sikaando, principal of a primary school in Twalubuka, near Ndola, thought that the movies helped to broaden the children’s horizons.
Local people in Masala, Zambia, watch a Chinese film on 14 July 2017 Credit: provided to China Daily
When the van was due to arrive in the area to screen movies, the school suspended classes in advance to allow students to attend. Ms Sikaando said it was the first time that the people in the village had seen a mobile cinema.
“Chinese activities are welcomed here in Zambia. Actually, we have been familiar with Chinese people for a long time,” she said.
During the screenings in the Republic of Congo in June, apart from entertaining movies, feature films about agricultural production technology were also presented to help the locals.
With nearly a decade’s work experience in Africa, Mr Liao is aware of the growing interest in Chinese films and TV dramas. According to him, modern Chinese TV dramas such as The Temptation to Go Home and Across the Ocean to See You gained average audience ratings in Zambia of more than 1.9 per cent of the total viewer numbers between 2017 and 2018. Audience ratings for the latter hit 4.9 per cent.
During a trip last year to Kapiri Mposhi, the terminus of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway, Mr Liao was surprised to find local people speaking about kung fu, acupuncture and even Phoenix-brand bicycles – a legacy from when Chinese workers were involved in the construction of the railway during the early 1970s.
It was at this point that Mr Liao recognised the need to introduce films and dramas that reflected the social changes and economic development of modern-day China to people in Africa.
“I hope that Zambian people turn out in great numbers to watch the films,” said Kampamba Mulenga, the minister of information and broadcasting services at that time.
Ms Mulenga said she believed that cultural exchanges should be mutually beneficial and she hoped that Zambian films would make their way to China in the future.
This article was originally produced and published by China Daily. View the original article at www.chinadaily.com.cn
Google AMP Exclusion,Sponsored,China Watch,China Watch Culture