13 August 2019 – The archives of African Film & TV Magazine became available online today, 14 years after publication ceased. The web address for these archives is given at the end of this page, below.
Africa Film & TV became a weekly email newsletter, quarterly print journal and annual print yearbook, and online directory and resource africafilmtv.com.
Africa Film and TV’s glory days were those leading up to, and following the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Africa Film & TV played a central role in the debate about the moving image (television and movies) in post-colonial Africa. Africa Film & TV promoted “African stories” at a time when Hollywood production dominated African cinema and TV screens, but also encouraged co-production and business partnership as the end of the cold war and globalisation changed economic models in Africa. In 1996, Africa Film & TV was a founder member of Sithengi, the Cape Town Film & TV market which show cased the launch of movie and television companies which hoped to be at the forefront of the African Renaissance.
By 2000, Africa Film & TV had become and expert partner in global events such as MIPTV, Banff Television Festival and Iemmies. A French edition was sponsored by the Frnech government.
But, although increasingly global, AFTV’s production base was Zimbabwe, and the civil disturbances resulting from a struggle between liberal democratic reformers on the one side, and veterans of the anti-colonial struggle on the other, made it increasingly hard for a media company to survive – government crackdowns threatened journalists, and internet and phone communications become hard. AFTV responded by opening an office in the UK in 2001, but this was not enough.
In addition to the collapse of infrastructure in Zimbabwe, another factors conspired to end publication: although AFTV was a pioneer of web and email communications in Africa, the arrival of the internet meant directory services were rendered obsolete by web search engines such as Google. This reduced advertising revenues rapidly from 1999. AFTV tried to transition to online publishing, but revenues became smaller. With no pay, and demoralised by global structural adjustment and virtual civil war in our homeland, it became harder to write about the promise of an African Renaissance – let alone sell the idea abroad. Publication was suspended in 2005. In 2007, UK publishers Balancing Act offered to buy AFTV’s database and continue publishing newsletters.
The editor of AFTV has long wished to make the archives available online and has today realised this wish on a modest way: link below. Maybe it’s time to write again about African Stories: