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Urban Video Guerrilla Units Seek to Revive Cinema in Africa

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12 April 2011

MobiCine Logo

As movie theatres close down across West Africa a new European Commission funded project aims to bring the movies to audiences with the help of specially adapted moped-trailers that carry a compact mobile film-screening kit.

The sale of cheap, pirate DVDs has seen a proliferation of illegal and make-shift movie theatres open, often showing poor copies of American blockbusters. Film makers and producers are losing out and established cinemas across West Africa are being forced to shut down.

MobiCine, operated by, want to revive the industry by showing locally produced films or documentaries, in the local language where possible, and paying the distribution and copyright fees to the film companies that made them. They hope this will go some way towards breaking the negative cycle of non-investment in African film that has been fuelled by the pirate DVD industry.

“The idea is to have a moving cinema, as cheap as possible in terms of equipment and to make it sustainable through the money we get from the audience and the sponsors,” said Enrico Chiesa, one of the project organisers. To hear more from Mr Chiesa, watch this video, which includes excerpts from the MobiCine promotional video shot in Senegal.



MobiCine’s artful solution is a specially adapted moped, fitted with a trailer that carries all the equipment needed to put on a film: a screen, speakers, projection equipment and, importantly, a small power generator to keep the film running through any power-outs.

The ensemble is designed to be operated by one person – a specially trained mobile projectionist – who uses the equipment as a franchisee, getting a share of the 300 CFA (45 euro cents) ticket sales. The MobiCine organisers hope that the mobile projectionists will literally and figuratively drive the success of the project, as the bigger the MobiCine audiences, the bigger their earnings.

The project is launching next month in the Senegalese and Malian capitals of Dakar and Bamako. If it’s a success, they hope to extend the project to other Senegalese and Malian cities before looking at launching similar projects in other African countries.

For the EC, funding of such a cultural venture provides an important compliment to the more mainstream direction of funds towards infrastructure, education or environmental projects.

Funding of cultural projects has increased. The European Development Fund is the main instrument for providing development cooperation to African countries. In the ninth European Development Fund (2000-2007), the EC committed close to 15 million euro to cultural projects. But in the 10th EDF (2008 – 2013) that figure reached 30 million euros, according to Denis Salord, EC Head of Operations for ACP States.

“When we say ‘culture’, that includes film, cinema, audio-visual, music, literature, songs and lots more,” said Mr Salord.

The EU makes further information available on its culture projects through the following websites: also received EC funding to set up its online video-on-demand store for African films and documentaries, set to lunch this spring. The aim of the store is to provide a legal, commercial downloading platform for African filmmakers and producers whose revenues have been negatively impacted by the rise in cheap pirate DVDs. Find out more online:


Follow MobiCine online!
You can see the full promotional video introducing MobiCine (and excerpted in the video interview above) on their facebook page: You can sign up to follow MobiCine and progress here:


DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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