Botswana Wildlife Film School Graduates First Batch Of Filmmakers

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The Botswana Wildlife Film School in Kasane has this week graduated the first batch of 20 students, which is one of the key deliverables under the project Botswana Ignite, commonly known as the Steve Harvey Global partnership project.

The Wildlife Documentary Academy aims to equip young Batswana filmmakers to meaningfully participate in the global space within this genre and is intended to train a minimum of 240 young people over the course of three years. The project is also intended to facilitate the creative industry in the film and television space. Another batch of 20 students has commenced training this week.

Speaking during the official launch of the academy, Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs Boitumelo Gofhamodimo said the project is one of the flagships under the Economic Recovery and Transformation Program by which President Mokgweetsi Masisi is determined to boost the economy of Botswana by diversifying the economy and unlocking the value chains towards economic growth. Gofhamodimo added that the wildlife documentary genre represents a significant part of the global content market.

“What is clear is that while Botswana’s animals and iconic images have graced many documentaries, there is very little participation by Batswana in the making of such. The main reason has been lack of skills, networking, and other opportunities for Batswana to participate,” she said.

She stated that the partnership with Steve Harvey Global is meant to catalyse participation in this space through their networks and influence. Gofhamodimo noted that they expect that the graduates from the training will form the first cohort of highly trained and passionate producers of content in the wildlife documentary space.

She further indicated that the hope is for the graduates not to only produce their works for global consumption, but to also service producers from other parts of the world who come to Botswana to make documentaries.

“We expect these graduates to be the first point of call for any producers coming to Botswana to do such works. In that way, we are confident that significant foreign earnings will be realised through such a genre. In addition, we expect these graduates to produce uniquely Botswana stories that would add diversity to this genre,” she said.

According to Gofhamodimo, there was a careful choice of locating the school in Kasane and that was meant to immerse the students into the environment that hosts the world’s best flora and fauna. He said that was also meant to inspire and allow them to understand the environment they will be exposed to for the rest of their lives.

In an interview, Botswana Ignite project director, Duncan Irvine said Botswana has unique and abundant wildlife resources but it was unfortunate that filmmakers from around the world only come here to shoot and go back home. He stated that there are few Batswana in the industry and what they want to do is to expand it out so that they can exploit the resources that they have.

“We want to see more wildlife documentaries that are not just filmed in Botswana but are also created, filmed, directed, edited, and sold to the international broadcasters as a product of Batswana,” he said.

One of the graduates Tamia Wright who is proud to be one of the first fruits of the Botswana Wildlife Film School says she was privileged to immerse herself in the art of capturing the beauty of her country. She noted that the experience has not only deepened her passion for wildlife but has highlighted the importance of sharing narratives from a Motswana perspective.

“I am filled with joy when I reflect on how my life has transformed since starting the course, being here has inspired me to consistently consider the bigger picture, I now feel more confident and motivated than ever to explore my creative side,” she said.

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