TANZANIA: Tanzania: A Journey Within (2011)

by Taraji Ellington

Please read the crafter statement before watching the video essay.  Thank you.

Through cinema, filmmakers can depict life as they see it. They are able to start important conversation that would have otherwise gone unheard or unseen. Of course, every film is created with a specific purpose in mind, whether that is to inform, persuade or just entertain. So, not everything filmmakers illustrate in their film should be taken seriously or be associated with a country or area. However, not many people can travel around the world to see a country’s beauty, and the struggle its people go through, and not many people feel like educating themselves on topics that don’t affect them. This causes people to associate films no matter their purpose to the respective country the film is kind of depicting. How a country is represented in cinema, good or bad, definitely has a rippling effect down the line. This is the reason many people associate Africa as a whole with the more popularized African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal. Even though each African country has their own unique experience and its own type of beauty, it’s not usually conveyed in film. Due to the fact, although filmmakers use cinema to illustrate the history of their community, a film’s exposure greatly depends on the amount of funding it receives.

If a director has little to no funding for their film, their work will probably only be seen in their country. Their lack of money decreases the amount of influence their film has worldwide. Unlike bigger cinemas, Tanzanian films are low in budget because they are recorded quickly and filmed on a camcorder to be released on DVD. Even though Tanzanian films are mainly published this way, the films are still being watched and praised throughout the country. However, a lot of films produced in Tanzania are not as well known or watched in other countries because they are not as well promoted due to lack of funding. This causes people to associate Tanzania with popular African films that come from their respective country. And, for the most part, a lot of the more recent “African films” that have to be produced by the US depict slavery, and even then, those films are usually only watched by African Americans. For that reason, the most popular film that shows the African experience is Black Panther: a film about a fictional superhero. And this film only kind of accurately depicts Africa’s beauty and not the specific countries’ struggle. In the end, we’re left with a problem of bigger cinema overshadowing conversations from smaller cinema.


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