MAPUTO, Mozambique -- Film director Fernando Zembriel was experiencing a severe sense-of-humor failure -- not his first in recent months.
His director of photography had just contracted malaria -- the 20th member of the crew to fall victim to mosquitoes at the film set on the edge of a lake near the capital, Maputo.
The problems didn't end there. One crew member had the tip of his finger amputated after being bitten by a snake, and a river scene had to be relocated because of crocodiles.
Africa's answer to Hollywood, Mozambique is not.
For the past three months, Zembriel has been working on ''O Gotejar da Luz,'' Portuguese for ''The Dripping of the Light'' -- a full-length feature film starring Victor Norte and Carla Bolito, two of Portugal's best-known performers.
Joao Ribeiro, a Mozambican and one of the film's producers, said the problems on the set are the least of it. Almost all the equipment has to be imported from South Africa, and getting it through Mozambique's government bureaucracy has been difficult, he said, citing fees and bribes.
''We will have spent $500,000 on this film in Mozambique and there has been no facilitation from the state,'' he said.
Despite the difficulties, he believes Mozambique's film industry -- which has produced on average one feature film every two years since the 1980s -- has potential because of the country's rich history and cultural diversity.
''We are committed to building up facilities. We want to bring Mozambique into the arena of making films and commercials,'' he says.
Yet he does not expect this film -- funded largely by grants from Portugal -- to turn a profit. The production has coincided with two cyclones and the worst floods ever recorded in the impoverished southeast African country.
Set in 1958, when Mozambique was under Portuguese rule, the film is a dramatic love story about the relationship between cotton plantation workers and their colonial masters.
The Portuguese spent nearly 500 years in Mozambique. When they left, in 1975, a 17-year civil war followed.
Bolito, 27, who was born in Mozambique but immigrated to Portugal as a child, said the film has been a fascinating rediscovery of her roots. And Norte said that while the project has been trying, it has been enjoyable.
But assistant director Anna Magaia can't wait to get home to Portugal.
''Everything has been incredibly difficult,'' she says. ''For instance our generator broke down the other day, and we had to wait two days for another one to arrive from South Africa.''
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