AFTER having what they called a “successful film festival” last month, in Dar es Salaam, the resident Italian Ambassador, Roberto Mengoni, says the event is here to stay.
After-all, he maintains they’ve just embarked on this journey, by which they are aiming to expose locals to their country’s culture, therefore, such ideas as stopping now, are very far from their thoughts.
He reminded the ‘Daily News’ that the main reason for having the three screenings of Italian films, in three successive weeks, at the local Goethe Institute, was “to show some contemporary movies here in this country that are not easily seen by the public”.
Through cinema, he added, they could show some interesting things, like comedy to historical drama, which can expose an audience to different “ideas and visions”. Or put another way, “It’s one way to take people on a travel with the mind to a different country.”
Ironically, Amb Mengoni admitted, he didn’t see any of the films because of some pressing family issues, which arose back in Italy that required his presence, when doing the circuits.
On his return to Tanzania last week, he was able to deduce from his colleagues’ reports that the event was more successful than they all had previously expected.
First, they had a very good turn-out on all three nights, although the audiences were dominated by foreigners.
“Off-course, we love to have everybody but we also know that it’s more important for Tanzanians. Europeans can see these movies everywhere but for locals they’re not shown here.
However, I was told there was a lot of people and the movies were appreciated. Therefore, we plan having the festival every year from now,” Amb Mengoni explained and added the promise.
In the conversation earlier, this week he also said that they, at the embassy, were hoping that together with the other international festivals, which are locally-held around this time of the year, they would be able to create some interest for European cinemas and films.
The idea, he maintains is simple to provide an alternative way of making films. Since his time here in the country, Amb Mengoni has been exposed to some locally-made films, which he says “have a completely different rhythm”, in which the African elements are combined into a modern frame.
On a personal note, he has no interest in films, where the African elements is only used to decorate. However, in reflection of last month’s screening he admits that their biggest challenge, which still has to be overcome, was to promote the event, especially outside the usual local Art circles.
When the idea was proposed to him that this being the case, why don’t they think of taking the festival to other places, such as the university or to have more than one screening, he said they were looking at the logistics such actions would require.
“We would like to aim towards young Tanzanians, who just might be interested in this event. These could be university students or young artists. This was the most difficult thing for us to do this year,” he said.
Having said this, Amb Mengoni went on to say this does not mean they’re just interested in an annual film festival neither.
For the whole of next week, the locally-based Italian embassy has planned to have a week of their country’s cuisine, at one of the local hotels. Two chiefs are being brought in from Italy, especially for this occasion, which is directed to showcasing Italian food.
Then from the 25 of this month, the embassy will be participating in the annual Swahili Fashion Week, by helping some local Visual Artists (VA) to participate in the event with their paintings and sculptures. They are also preparing to bring an Italian film director to Zanzibar for next July’s Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF).
“The idea is for this director to show their movies and have some kind of exchange programme with local artists, while in the country,” Amb Mengoni said.
Before leaving the Envoy to continue with his duties he was asked what were the highlights for him this year. Immediately he replied one of them was taking a delegation of 100 business persons together with some government officials to Rome for a Country Presentation.
This showcase of Tanzania, he says was attended by hundreds of Italians. He also admitted that on a more personal level, one of his fondest memories was visiting Songea District in Ruvuma Region last month.
While there he did take time to visit the Maji Maji Memorial Museum, which all went towards making it a memorable visit for him.
“For some reasons it was the most beautiful mission, among many beautiful missions. We inaugurated a cooperation project on dairy products and husbandry and had very nice meetings with the local people outside of Dar es Salaam,” he said.