By Steve Smith
Stephen William Smith is an American anthropologist, biographer, editor, historian, journalist, and writer. He is a former editor of the French daily newspaper Libération and the former deputy editor of the foreign desk at Le Monde.
YELLOW CARD is now developing a life of its’ own and we are encouraging organizations across the continent to take control and run with the project. While this is very exciting, it makes it increasingly difficult to keep track of the many activities and associated spin-offs of the project.
Currently, we have the video itself dubbed into French, Portuguese, Shona, Ndebele, and Swahili, as well as the original English version. A Pidgin English version is also in the works now for use in West Africa. We have completed a support manual in English, and now will translate that into ten other African languages (two for each of our five target countries). A 2-minute trailer, the “making-of” video: YELLOW FEVER, and a music video are also available. We have a complete Press Kit, poster, and variety of promotional materials. We are also making a 35mm print sub-titled in French for release in cinema halls in West Africa.
In April 2000, we had the world premier in Zimbabwe. Next, we had premiers in Nairobi, Lusaka, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and four other smaller cities in Zimbabwe (Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Kwekwe). All were high profile affairs with lots of publicity and top keynote speakers. The director and stars of the film were able to attend many of them.
We’ve just signed a couple distribution agreements in Nigeria, and will begin releasing it in mobile units soon, and a 35mm print will be shown in the largest chain of cinema halls in Nigeria. South Africa is on deck for a huge release in coming months as well. We are planning to launch the Portuguese version in September and will be inviting Leroy Gopal (Tiyane) for the premiere in Maputo. We are currently supporting the attendance of Leroy at film and drama school in Johannesburg.
We are now beginning our grassroots distribution efforts and will go out to rural areas in our five main target African nations (Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia) in conjunction with national partners and hold training workshops for NGOs with video showing programs. Every agency that attends the workshops will be given videos and all the accompanying materials. Also, we are working to see that it is broadcast on TV in at least 20 African nations in coming months.
We have just received funding for a 13-part TV series with the same characters, continuing on with their lives. We plan to have three top African directors each do four (and one do five) episodes. Each director will focus on one character / story line. The scripts will be developed via a thorough process by the end of this year, and we’ll be video taping this process to share it with others working in social message filmmaking.
An evaluation / advocacy related project has also just been completed. It involves a survey among youth in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe’s largest township community. We have assessed how many township youth have heard about the film, how many have seen it, what they think about the film and if they can advise us on how it can be used effectively with young township audiences (a primary target audience for the project). About 500 spot interviews were conducted and the information is presently being released.
Another distribution effort involves holding road shows in hard-to-reach rural and township areas across Zimbabwe. YELLOW CARD is proving to be a very popular film for these screenings. More than 80 screenings of YELLOW CARD will take place with rural and township audiences by the end of the year.
YELLOW CARD won an award from the Council on Foundations in the United States, as well as the People’s Choice Award at the Zanzibar International Festival; the Best Music Award at the Zimbabwe Southern Africa Film Festival, and the Jury Award at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. The film has been shown at dozens of festivals around the world.
Kenya Airways will be screening YELLOW CARD as part of their international in-flight entertainment, from August this year. Also, it will be showing nationwide in the USA on Starz Encore cable in August. We’ve engaged a South African marketing firm to work on getting YELLOW CARD broadcast throughout the world. They just started, but have had demand for lots of screeners from all over the world.