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Drive-in movie van a hit in rural Africa

By Fang Aiqing | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-05 08:00
Local children at the village of Kintele in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo, are engrossed in Chinese animation the Boonie Bears during the screenings in June. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A mobile cinema screening domestic films is proving popular with villagers in Zambia, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Senegal.

A film screen on wheels that has been touring villages in the West African country of Senegal, has been giving locals the chance to catch up on the latest Chinese movies for free.

Fourteen screenings of Chinese films dubbed into French were held in seven villages around the Senegalese capital of Dakar and the inland city of Thies from July 12 to 18.

Apart from kung fu movies, which have long been popular with African audiences, other lesser known genres popular in China such as animations, fantasy and romantic movies have also been screened.

Some of the films reflected contemporary popular culture in China.

Senegalese viewer Coumba Sarr said many of the themes resonated with her despite the vast distances between the two countries, especially those dealing with the complicated relationship between mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law.

Around 10,000 people attended the screenings, according to StarTimes Ltd, a Chinese digital TV service provider and organizers of the program. As part of the Carnival of Chinese Films and TV Dramas project, 61 screenings have been held in 22 villages in Zambia, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Senegal since its launch in July 2017.

The villages often lack recreational activities, according to Liao Lanfang, CEO of Top-Star, the Zambian branch of StarTimes. Many of the villagers do not have a television at home and some of the more remote villages have no electricity.

Therefore, the arrival of the mobile film van, equipped with a large LED screen, lifting gear and a backup power source, often garnered great interest.

"The van was surrounded by children when we entered Makuluku, a village near Kabwe. They ran after the van and started dancing following the roadshow music," says Wang Qian, a StarTimes employee who took part in the screenings in Zambia.

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