Zimbabwe accountant chooses film over stock market

Tue Mar 3, 2009 6:55am EST
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By Katrina Manson

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters Life!) - When businessman Lyndon Plant answered an advertisement in his old school newspaper, little did he know that it would be the start of a new career as a film producer.

The trained accountant's eye was caught by an appeal from award-winning Zimbabwean director Michael Raeburn, who was on a seven-year hunt for funds for a shocking and darkly comic film featuring incest in a poor white suburb of Johannesburg.

After three glasses of wine at their first meeting at a London arts club, Plant agreed to put 30,000 pounds ($42,600) of his savings from his London job into Raeburn's production.

"Once Michael knew my own money was on the line he kept trying to dissuade me, telling me how risky the project is," Plant told Reuters by the swimming pool at Azalai Hotel Independance, the gossipy hub of this week's FESPACO pan-African film festival in Burkina Faso's hot dusty capital, Ouagadougou.

"But I told him: "It's either you or the stock market'."

The feature-length film, "Triomf," which is competing for the top prize at FESPACO, benefited from more than 200,000 euros ($253,500) in donor financing, mostly from France.

But it still needs to earn 500,000 euros to break even. If all goes well, Plant should see a 25 percent return on his investment, plus a healthy share of any profits once all the expenses have been paid.

Plant, 38, was born to poor mixed-race parents in Zimbabwe and was the first in his family to attend university.   Continued...