Filmmaker bemoans lack of laws

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Mohalenyane Phakela

RENOWNED filmmaker and producer, Patronella Sello Diedricks said lack of laws that support the film industry is a huge setback for the development of the sector.

She said it was still a farfetched dream for Lesotho’s filmmakers to work with international producers or bring in equipment from outside, as there was no tax rebate for such productions, which is a requirement.

“Lesotho does not currently have legislation in place to support the industry,” Diedricks recently told Xpress People in an interview

“Things like tax rebates and a functional film office, need to be in place to ease production and particularly to make a country be considered by international producers. We are competing with countries like Kenya and South Africa which offer rebates of up to 30 percent for in-country spending,” Diedricks said, adding:

“I once attended a workshop in Johannesburg (South Africa), hosted by a representative of the MPA (Motion Picture Association) of America. I spoke to him on the sidelines about the possibility of doing work here (in Lesotho) and he indicated a familiarity with our country and said he had visited with a client who had indicated they could have shot scenes from Game of Thrones here but then, our industry was not properly organized.”

She further explained the need for producers to work together for the development of the industry. “This can only happen when we all play our part within structures such as the Motion Pictures Association of Lesotho (MPALE), and ensure we have the legislation in place to support the growth of the sector and position us as a viable film destination. If we do not focus on such developments, we are going to continue running around in circles,” Diedricks said.

MPALE was established in 2014 as the mother body seeking to advocate and protect the rights of local filmmakers, and to further assist them where there is need.

Diedricks made a name for herself in the South African film industry since the early 90s as an actress, scriptwriter, producer and presenter. She became popular for roles such as Colonel Tumi Mofokeng in Streets of Mangaung and Refiloe Monare in Isidingo.  She also acted in popular series such as Muvhango, Egoli and Hearts & Minds among others. She has her own production company called BLQINC. The Moshoeshoe II-born Diedricks has been back in Lesotho since 2016 assisting the national television with the technical overhaul of the broadcaster.

She continued: “The film industry is a vibrant industry on its own. We have recently started working with the Department of Culture in the Ministry of Tourism. I think there is a lot that Film and Television can do to promote tourism and showcase the beauty of our country to attract potential investors. I strongly believe that film and television are still the best mediums to do that when done by professionals. We are currently wasting opportunities,” she said.

She said working with partners, they will be rolling-out exciting projects over the next year or so.

“There is a Collective Management Organisation, which is launching soon, which will manage copyright and collect royalties on behalf of Basotho. The associations are finally getting active and getting the right support from across government departments.”

With the creative industry currently being highlighted in the National Development Strategic Plan, she said artistes need to join relevant associations so that they can have a voice. “This can also enable our industry to develop in a way that will benefit many people and other sectors,” she said.

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