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British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Central African Film Unit


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The Central African Film Unit (CAFU) was established in 1948 and produced, among other films, the Spotlight cinemagazine series: Rhodesian Spotlight (1955-1959); Federal Spotlight (1959-1963) and Spotlight (1963). As its name suggests it originally produced and distributed films within the Central African Federation, also known as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which existed from 1953 to 1963. Before Federation was established in 1953, it was administered by the Public Relations Committee of the Central African Council and afterwards became part of the Federal Department of Information. The financial support from the British government, amounting to around forty per cent, was phased out in 1956.

CAFU began its activities in 1948 when Alan Izod, who previously worked for the Central Office of Information [qv] supervising colonial films was appointed producer. He recruited the director and writer Stephen Peet to head the film unit in Salisbury (now Harare) in and Louis Nell to lead the one in Lusaka. The final member of this core team was the script writer, Denys Brown. Although the output of the unit was predominantly instructional in the early years with Federation the emphasis changed to promoting the Federation at home and abroad. The Spotlight series was regarded as one of the most important tools in achieving this aim and became the main activity of CAFU from the mid 1950s.


Rosyleen Smyth ‘The Central African Film Unit’s Images of Empire 1948-1963’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 3 (2), 1983 and Kedmon Hugwe, ‘Fifty Years Of Film-Making In Zimbabwe’ (accessed 5/3/2007).

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