In one of his recent social media posts, renowned and multi-award-winning Cameroonian actor Alenne Menget expressed his concerns about the current state of the Cameroonian film industry. He lamented that the industry had stagnated for the past few years and showed no signs of progress.
Two years ago, Netflix acquired four Cameroonian movies, adding them to its extensive collection of award-winning TV shows, movies, anime, documentaries, and more. Netflix’s platforms worldwide will now stream these movies, making them accessible on thousands of internet-connected devices.
“Two years ago, I thought we had arrived. Two Cameroon films were taken by Netflix. A month later, another two were taken again by Nexfix. Then we start celebrating. Investors got interested in the business. More than 10 beautiful films were shot in class after Netflix selected our four films,” Alenne wrote.
Kang Quintus produced the first movie to be acquired, which was “Fisherman’s Diary.” They officially streamed it on April 4, 2021. Netflix then acquired the second movie, titled “Therapy.” This was first streamed on March 26, 2021. Musing Derick T-Inaiz and Anurin Nwunembom-Ultimate directed the movie.
In the same year, two additional Cameroonian movies were acquired two months later. Netflix made the movie “A Man for the Weekend,” released in 2017, available for streaming on June 16, 2021. It then officially streamed the movie “Broken” on June 20, 2021. Both movies were produced by Syndy Emade under her production house, Blue Rain Entertainment.
Netflix’s acquisition of these movies should have brought about significant changes in the industry. That is because as a result of their multiple acquisitions in 2021, Cameroonian movies attracted the interest of many investors, who have brought forth a multitude of great ideas to enhance their growth.
Two years of stagnation
Alenne Menget revealed in his publication that, unfortunately, Netflix’s interest in the Cameroon movie industry has not yielded any positive results for the attention brought to the Cameroon movie industry. In fact, things have worsened instead of improving.
“Two years are gone now. Things even look worse than before. Nothing seems to be happening. The majority of us are still very poor, but shining rich on social media and carrying our collars high like newborn millionaires,” he added.
According to Menget, the reason why Cameroon’s film industry did not receive all the privileges associated with the Netflix acquisitions was primarily due to the malicious intentions of certain individuals within the industry.
“Most investors who got interested after the Netflix boom met with the wrong guys, who are always ahead. They were lied to; some were duped. They were promised milk and honey, and they decided to invest… Once they invested, they met up with the realities”.
“So now, two years go by. Is Netflix not interested in Cameroon movies or are they tired of the disorganization as every other film-making stakeholder wants to represent Netflix in Cameroon and for that to happen, they must sabotage each other to the discomfort and mistrust of Netflix”.
Menget argues that Cameroonians should also take responsibility for Netflix’s regression in the Cameroon film industry. He points out that Cameroonians have not shown any support or subscribed to Netflix to help promote Cameroonian movies on the streaming platform.
Over the past few years, the film industry in Cameroon has faced challenges in breaking free from its local context and reaching the international stage to compete with other African movies. Despite having a plethora of talented actors, the industry has yet to receive the recognition it truly deserves.
Lack of a clear Identity
Menget’s concerns about the lack of unity within the movie industry in Cameroon are cogent. A few weeks ago, MMI asked on its segment ‘Question of the Day’ – “Hollywood is US, Bollywood is India, Ghallywood is Ghana, Nollywood is Nigeria, and Cameroon is…?”
One thing was clear from the over 2,700 comments. The movie industry in Cameroon lacked a distinct identity, unlike the thriving industries in other countries. For instance, MMI has identified at least nine different names for the same industry.
Camerwood, Camwood, Callywood, Collywood, and Cammywood were among the names that were frequently mentioned in relation to the film industry in Cameroon. Additionally, Camiwood, Camewood, and Cinema of Cameroon were also commonly referenced.
Cameroon, despite having a population of less than 30 million, has a multitude of names associated with its emerging movie industry. In contrast, Nigeria and the USA, both boasting populations exceeding 200 million, possess distinct and individual identities within their respective film industries. This is the beginning of a summary of the issues brought up by Allenne Menget.