Seychelles film industry gets big boost with Africa Film Factory

August will be a busy month in Seychelles as two international films will start shooting in Seychelles. The idyllic Indian Ocean archipelago, famed for its powder-white beaches and clear tranquil waters of turquoise and blue, will be the setting for a string of international films that tell stories from Africa.

It's considered by many as one of the most picturesque places in the world, but the Seychelles islands have rarely been the setting of a big-budget film, apart from a few like Jonathan Frakes' 'Thunderbirds,' (2004) and Roman Polanski's 'Pirates' (1986).

During a trip to attend a meeting of the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA), managing director and co-founder of the Africa Film Factory, Rahul Nehra, realized that the stories of the African continent, which represents about a billion people, were not being told enough through the medium of films.

After a series of meetings with the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) Antoine Onezime and the head of SABA, Namibian media chief Albertus Aochamub, it was decided to begin a long-running project to produce African international cinema, with the majority of the films to boast the island backdrop of Seychelles as a film location.

In an interview with SNA, Nehra said the intention was to initiate a film-making collaboration in Seychelles between other African countries with established film industries, such as Nigeria and South Africa, utilizing experience and financial backing from the Indian 'Bollywood' film industry.

Africa Film Factory is an initiative set up by Nehra and other industry veterans such as well-known Indian actor Jackie Shroff and Bollywood director Sumit Dutt to work with African nations in making high-standard productions.

To facilitate this, the company intends to offer specialized media training to locals interested in working in the film industry, allowing African countries such as Seychelles to develop their own voices and talents to generate meaningful home-grown content.

"We had discussions in South Africa and then we came to Seychelles; we had a series of discussions here, we met the honourable minister of tourism," said Nehra. "Somewhere in between we got a Hollywood producer by the name of Mr Rutnam involved, because we wanted a good director, we wanted an excellent film and we wanted some top African actors and actresses to be in the film, and can there be a better place than Seychelles to shoot? No."

Sri Lankan film-maker Chandram Rutnam was involved in numerous international productions including the Sri Lankan location shoot of 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' (1984) and has worked with some of the most distinguished directors in the world, including Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

The first film scheduled for production is entitled 'A Love Like This' - a dramatic love story that develops between an aspiring aviator and a budding engineer. The film will be shot on location in Seychelles, and in Sri Lanka, where director Chandram Rutnam has a private aeronautical engineering and flying academy, the Asian Aviation Centre.

"Amongst the many works that I have essayed, this will stand out as a work that will potentially create a new journey of International African cinema with a Pan-African and Global film," says Rutnam in a quote provided to SNA.

According to Nehra, the lead actor will be played by Nigerian Gabriel Afolayan, who was awarded the 'Most Promising Actor' last year in Nigeria. The lead female role, as yet unannounced, is expected to be filled by a well-known South African actress, and the supporting female character is expected to be none other than the recently-crowned Miss Seychelles, Camila Estico.

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