Local filmmakers have criticised the Namibia Film Commission (NFC) for delayed payments for the 2019/2020 funding cycle, which was announced in 2019.
Last year May, the NFC announced they received five applications for feature film funding but could only select four, while 15 applications were submitted for the experienced short films category but only five made the cut. Out of 10 applicants for the newcomer short film category, only five were selected.
The selected applicants have gone through the necessary training and pitched to a panel of experts last November; however, eight months later, the NFC has not funded these filmmakers yet.
“We applied, and they contacted us, saying we are selected for the pitching phase, as they have come up with a new approach of funding,” said one of the filmmakers, Rosalia David, adding that candidates go through a film production training – and only thereafter, pitch through Zoom.
“We have pitched our film concepts on Zoom – and later, they told us we need to pitch to a panel of judges and we did so. Up to today, we have not heard anything. We don’t know if they have selected the films to be funded yet but other colleagues who have also pitched claimed they have also not received any sort of communication by NFC,” she explained.
David stressed she is left in limbo, as she does not know if her film will be funded.
“At least they could have informed us through a press release on who was selected for funding so we don’t keep our hopes up,” she said, adding the process has cost her time and money.
Approached for a comment, NFC senior media officer Nicola Muranda said the institution has over the past four years been affected by budget cuts – and this has continued into the new financial year.
“Our annual appropriation remains at N$3 million, disbursed monthly in instalments of N$ 250 000; hence, there has been a tremendous delay in the execution of work since March 2020, which continues to date,” she explained, adding that their work processes have also been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Muranda, most, if not all, their activities were always carried out in groups and crowds, which has a ripple effect in terms of resources and equipment in order to be able to efficiently carry out their work online (in this case, training, pitching, and stakeholder and internal meetings, in general).
“These are some of the reasons all our projects and funding have been severely delayed, which has also caused a backlog for all the old and new projects,” she further explained.
Having cleared the challenges, Muranda said the final selection process was concluded in December 2020.
“The commission has completed the contracts of the six categories, which will thus pave the way to inform the final recipients, who should then review and sign the contract before the end of June,” she said.
The NFC has, therefore, resolved to carry out the projects in respective category phases by starting with the upcoming short films first, followed by the experienced short films and so forth, until the conclusion of the feature films that require the largest budget.
“We, thus, urge for patience among filmmakers, as we are almost done finalising the process, and encourage filmmakers to at all times follow up with the office should they need any updates or information,” said Muranda.