Editor’s note: The author of this story is the immediate past Director of Public Affairs for the Liberia Movie Union.
Finally, the Liberia Movie Union has gotten a new president after months of internal wrangling.
Artus Frank, the union’s new president, is a veteran of the Nigeria and Ghana movie industries but his ascendancy to the movie union presidency comes with a lot of challenges.
More than ten years after the establishment of the union, successive presidents have failed miserably in seeking opportunities for the growth of the movie industry due to internal division which engulfed the union over the years.
It was due to this same internal strife that resulted in the failure of the administration of Artus Frank’s predecessor, Martha Akorsah.
Even before Frank’s election on a white ballot, his main challenger, Canon D’Bosz Mayon withdrew from the race due to allegations of election interference by the union interim President Eddie Gibson, in of favor him.
Having gone through this deep crisis, which almost destroyed the very foundation of the union, Frank needs to therefore immediately embark on a peace and reconciliation tour to heal the wounds of the past for the collective growth of the union.
Although this will not be easy, it is a task he must do if he serious about making the union vibrant and regain credibility with membership, as well as with the public.
Another problem that Frank Artus needs to address is the poor standard of Liberian films, which remains at a historic high due to the lack of exposure among filmmakers and the need for proper training in their craft.
Quality movies as a whole do a lot more than tell stories. They mirror society and, in some cases, visually project unique perspectives on the past, present and future of a society. Quality movies are also good for education and entertainment.
Therefore, Frank needs to immediately embark on organizing a series of trainings for local filmmakers to improve their craft.
Then there is corruption – which affected his predecessor Martha Akorsah government.
Madam Akorsah, who made history in 2015 for being the first democratically elected female president of the Union, like any past governments of the union, mismanaged the US$20,000 subsidy giving by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the training of the union members in order for them to improve on their craft.
The investigation, led by Rev. G. Hamilton Karsor, accused the president of the union at the time of administrative irregularities and procedural errors in the handling of the union’s funds, and the misappropriation of US$200.
Corruption in the union has not just held back donors and the government financial support but brought about lack of public trust in the union. Therefore getting rid of this age-old problem is something Artus Franks needs to work on.
Another major age-old problem Artus will have to fix is the problem of filmmakers not paying actors and actresses, instead extract money from them to produce the film.
And at the end of the day, these actors and actresses do not benefit a dime when the movie is put out on sale.
Even Artus Frank, who is now a president of the union, has been accused of being involved into such practice, which needs to be stopped through a policy under his presidency.
If this happens, he will be able to achieve one of the key goals of the union to create better-living conditions for its members through benefitting from their craft.
Meanwhile, the election of Frank Artus is a turning point for the movie industry; therefore, the world – will be watching to know whether the future will bring new hope or disappointment.