distributing their films. Today, these problems are no easier, even within Africa itself. International monopolistic interference has meant that Africans cannot see films made by fellow Africans as often as they wish. The film markets are swamped by film products distributed by a few powerful foreign-owned distribution companies, from America, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Persistent efforts have been made by African film-makers to break this rigid monopoly. In 1969, the Fédération Panafricaine des Cinéastes ( FEPACI), an Africa-wide organization, was created to challenge directly the existing distribution monopolies. Since then, a number of locally controlled regional and national cinema organizations have been established, which have had a small but important impact on the processes of cinema production and distribution in Africa. In some countries, governments have intervened by nationalizing cinema screening halls and creating bodies to facilitate the distribution of film products by African film-makers.
As far as distribution in foreign markets is concerned, African cinema is still on the fringes, despite the growing and active presence of African films at international festivals and fairs. Most public cinemas in Europe and America have never screened an African film, and the stock of African films in educational and other institutions is embarrassingly poor. There is an urgent need for more equitable distribution practices in the African and international film markets.
Perhaps even more urgent is the need to improve on the quality of films produced in Africa, so as to enhance their competitiveness at home and abroad. There is no doubt that the scarcity of proper technical facilities and the acute lack of professionally trained production personnel has greatly limited the capability of African film-makers to compete.
African film festivals held within and outside Africa have played a significant role in the promotion of the creative initiative and enterprise of African film-makers. The prizes offered for best film have always created healthy competition resulting in the production of more quality films. The festivals are effective forums for dialogue between professionals involved in film production, on one hand, and between film-makers and those who buy or watch their films, on the other. They are ideal platforms for the promotion of continental and regional co-operation, and also of the marketability of African films, by encouraging intra-African trade as well as export opportunities.
The biggest and most prodigious African film festival is the Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO), which has taken place annually in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, since 1969.
In October 1993 the Southern Africa Film Festival was held in Harare, Zimbabwe. According to its director, Keith Shiri, the huge turn-out of film-makers and audiences from all over Africa signalled a new high-water mark of film activity in anglophone Africa. The success of the festival was a clear indication of a bright future for African cinema as a whole.
Diawara, Manthia ( 1992), African Cinema.
Rouch, Jean ( 1967), Films ethnographiques sur l'Afrique noire.
Shiri, Keith (ed.) ( 1993), Africa at the Pictures.
Up until 1930, when the first Iranian fiction feature film was made, Iranian cinema was entirely dominated by the production of non-fiction films. Before the First World War, most documentaries were sponsored and viewed by the Qajar royal family and the upper classes, creating a model of a private, sponsored cinema. The films themselves were 'primitive', consisting of footage of news events, actualities, and spectacles involving royalty, usually filmed in long shot.
The first Iranian non-fiction footage was shot in Ostend, in Belgium, on 18 August 1900, when a 'flower parade' of some fifty floats showered the visiting Shah with bouquets of flowers; the event was filmed by Mirza Ebrahim Khan Akkasbashi, the official court photographer, with a Gaumont camera he had bought by order of the Shah a few weeks earlier in Paris. Back in Iran, Akkasbashi filmed Moharram religious ceremonies and other spectacles such as the lions in the royal zoo. These films, along with French and Russian newsreels, were shown at the houses of dignitaries and the royal palace during weddings and birth and circumcision ceremonies.
The first public cinema in Iran was the non-commercial Soli cinema, set up in 1900 by Roman Catholic missionaries in Tabriz. But it was the entrepreneur Ebrahim Khan