Monday, 14 September 2009

Abuja film fest beckons

THE yearly Abuja International Film Festival begins on September 22 at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre. Senator Aliero, minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), will declare the festival open. Moviedom engaged the Festival President, Fidelis Duker, on plans for this edition.
The festival
Abuja Film Festival is some days away and this is our sixth year. We want to see how we can raise the stake this year in spite of the global economic meltdown. This year, we are posing a question with our theme, which is Nollywood; what next? We are concerned because Nollywood is not moving anywhere. The industry is at its lowest ebb. Nothing seems to be working. Distribution is a problem and so is production. People are complaining and they even want us to change the kind of stories we tell. So, we are using this edition to address some of these issues that have been raised about the industry, particularly that of maintaining standards and the problem of piracy and distribution. However, in terms of entries for the festival, I am glad to say that we have received a couple from within and outside of the industry. In fact, we got close to 250 entries and they are more of foreign entries than films by Nigerians. I am sure you know why we don’t have more entries from home. Well it’s basically attitudinal. We are non-challant and we don’t like putting our creativity to test. But we’ll talk about all that at the festival. But the final screening of the entries will hold in Abuja were also the finalist will be announced and prizes given out. We have a jury that will take care of that.
The FCT administration
Honestly, we have in different ways tried to get Abuja as a city involved in the organisation of the festival but the reception we have always been accorded have not been encouraging at all. I think the Abuja Film Festival goes beyond just film. We have been to some other festivals and we have discovered that tourism is a major aspect of those festivals. We have tried to do it with Abuja and we have approached the authorities since we started six years ago, but there has not been acknowledgement of our proposals and letters, let alone, support. Each year, we have international filmmakers and their local counterpart travel all the way down to Abuja but the government and citizens of Abuja are always missing. And this is not about reaching out. We have talked to, written and even blackmailed them, but they seem to have other interests. But I don’t know what can be more interesting than having creative people be your guest for three to four days that the festival normally spans. We have really been unfortunate with the Federal Capital administration. But we are hoping that they will see the need to support us and truly make the city to be part of the festival as we run along. I am hoping that with the plan by the Coalition of Filmmakers to storm the venue, we should be able to make enough impact that will get them interested in growing the event in line with our vision and expectations. So, Abuja film festival is on course and it will hold from September 22 to 25.
The late Muyideen Alade Aromire, one of the pioneers of Nollywood, will be honoured for his effort in the production of Ekun, a video film that was shot and released in 1987 in Yoruba language. The release of this film signaled the beginning of the era of films being made on video formats. Available records are there to show that several films were released before the highly celebrated Living In Bondage by Chief Kenneth Nnebue in 1992, who incidentally, had shot several home video in the thriving Yoruba genre such as Aje Ni Iya Mi. Aromire. Also to be honored at the festival is the film, Iyawo Alhaji, which is the first home video film to be classified by the National Film and Video Censorss Board. A Nollywood Achievement Award has been created as a yearly package of the festival to honour stakeholders in the industry, who have contributed yearly to developing and improving the sector since inception. The comprehensive list of awardees will be unveiled at a world press conference that will herald the festival.

Around and about Nollywood...

Through the Glass premieres today
THE Lagos premiere of Stephanie Okereke’s debut movie as a director and writer, Through the Glass, holds today at the SilverBird Galleria on Ahmadu Bello Way in Victoria Island, Lagos. A statement from Next Page Productions indicates that the Lagos premiere is being held in partnership with the Silverbird Film Distribution Limited. Scheduled to begin at 4pm and strictly by invitation, Through the Glass, which has premiered in Los Angeles, California, features Garrett Mckechnie and Okereke in lead roles.
Time for Romania International Film Festival
THE former Bucharest International Film Festival, now known as the Romania International Film Festival, Ro-IFF, holds between September 27 and October 4, in the City of Arad . The official competition – called CineBlackSea – focuses on films that must have been produced in either Russia, Republic of Moldavia , Ukraina , Georgia , Armenia , Azerbaidjan , Bulgaria , Turquie , Greece or Romania . There are separate competitions for feature films as well as short films and documentaries. CineBlackSea is meant to be a link between countries that recent history kept apart in different social, political and economic ways. Like this, Bucharest transforms for nine days into a metropolis of cinema and arts. A competitive international section focuses on Women in Cinema – competing are feature films and documentaries, directed by women. The Focus will be dedicated to the opera of a special personality in film. The programmers consider cinema as a mirror reflecting the needs and mentalities of different societies. One of the main principles of selecting films is drawing special attention to new filmmaking including their own ways of expression. The aim is to promote talents, to fight the cultural decay and to consolidate quality in culture, arts and mass media. After the festival in Arad the films will be screened in other Romanian cities, such as Bucharest, Ramnicu Vâlcea and Mangalia. In 2010 the programme will move to Pecs in Hungary as a part of the initiatives of the European Capital of Culture.

ION Film Festival
ORGANISERS of the international touring film festival, ION International Film Festival, have affirmed that the festival will hold in Port Harcourt between December 9 and 12. Dubbed ION International Film Festival Port Harcourt 09, the touring film festival, which moves every year to a new location around the globe in an effort to promote global awareness, peace and unity. This is the first time it is holding in Africa. The previous festivals had been staged in Los Angeles (2007) and Dubai in 2008. ION launched the call for entries in 12 official categories on April 1, while deadline for submissions is September 30. International submissions can be done through or www. Those wishing to make submissions from Nigerian should check

Registration for Berlin Today Award – Talent Short Film Competition begins
THE organisers of Berlin International Film Festival have said the forthcoming Berlin Today Award 2011 competition is looking for the best five short film ideas based on the theme, You Are Leaving The Familiar Sector. Interested applicants can visit October 7, is deadline for submission. Out of all applications, 15 short film proposals will be selected for the first round of the competition. The directors involved will be invited to meet pre-selected producers at a Producers’ Meeting during the next Berlinale Talent Campus in February 2010. Here, the directors will be given the opportunity to present their project. Following the Producers’ Meeting, 5 producer/director teams will be nominated as finalists for the award. The short films will be produced until the end of the year 2010 and will celebrate their world premiere during the Berlinale Talent Campus 2011. The winning film, chosen by a jury, will receive the Berlin Today Award. The Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg supports the award. Entry to the competition is open to Berlinale Talent Campus participants past and present

NFC has no plans to re-locate THE management of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) has issued a statement debunking the rumour making the round that the Nigerian Film Corporation is relocating to Abuja. In the statement, signed by its Head of Public Affairs, the management described the act as ‘condemnable, negative and retrogressive’. The NFC management reiterated its earlier position that the Headquarters of the corporation remains in Jos and that no attempt by any individual or group of persons to malign and disparage the authorities of the corporation will henceforth be tolerated’. The management restated its commitment to pursuing the mandate of the corporation, which includes ‘the provision of broad policies and programmes which are being carried out through the continuous strengthening of its administrative, physical and infrastructural facilities, to reposition for accentuated performance and a dynamic, proactive leadership of the Nigerian creative industries.

Producer- Amebo A. Amebo Director- Mr. Gossip Actors- Nollywood Celebrities
A distress call from Iroegbu
THOSE who know the youthful and one time ‘dread’ wearing filmmaker, Dickson Iroegbu, are aware that the only thing on his mind is how to get his pet project, Child Soldier, off the ground. So, when one waka pass gushed that he had been seeing him lately at the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigerian Police Force, we wondered what Child Soldier had to do with fraud. Well, we received an email from the AMAA laureate just when we were about to call and find out about the true state of things. The content of the mail suggested that the mountain was on fire… no sorry, fire was on the mountain. See what the director of Women’s Cot sent us, which he signed as the Public Relations Officer of the Directors’ Guild of Nigeria; ‘Dear Colleagues, a meeting with the Police Commissioner Special Fraud Unit between Dickson Iroegbu and Mr. Paul Obazele has been rescheduled and fixed for Monday, September 14, 2009, by 2pm. I enjoin colleagues to intervene in this matter officially now before it becomes another messy slur on Nollywood. You will recall that recently, the incessant fight and quarrels in Nollywood has aided the berth of hunger amongst practitioners. Current efforts to save this business should be guarded vigorously by all and sundry peacefully and coherently. Please accept my commitment towards the success or attainment of victory in our struggle towards practicing this esteemed craft. I use this medium to notify you officially of this case. Dickson Iroegbu has been accused by Mr. Paul Obazele of fraud and threat to life at the SFU IKOYI. Whereas, the former got battered and suffered a failed assassination attempt on his life, which to the glory of God he survived, the later decides the option of the police rather than face his new “acclaimed” responsibility as AMP president. Nobody’s blood is needed to return the lost pride of Nollywood! We want to behold a new day when this will be all over; and honestly we hope it will be very soon. Thanks for your kind attention, warm regards’. End of email. And our Comment? May the day break!

GQ got a good clap Star actor, Chidi Mokeme, got a good clap from the audience the other day when filmmakers united against pirates at the National Theatre. The Nollywood actor and model, who is regarded as a powerful dresser, asked a question at the forum that everybody considered very intelligent. After the presentation by the London-based film curator and festival adviser, Keith Shiri, on why practitioners should take advantage of participation at festivals to grow Nollywood, Chidi took Keith up on the criteria for selection of films and why Nigeria has not been able to have an in-road into these festivals. A loud applause greeted those questions. Hear how a movie marketer at the forum reacted when Chidi took his seat after seeking further clarification from Keith: ‘Nna, amarom na this boy deh intelliegent like this (I don’t know that this boy — Chidi — is this intelligent)’. He adds: ‘I used to think he was just a fine boy no intelligence (sic). Well, we asked the fellow how he thought Chidi has been acting and the fellow cut in: ‘abeg that one na cramming and if he make mistake dem go stop and start’. And since Chidi asked his questions extempore that day, no be cramming! Shoooooooooooee. I no know book ooooooooooo!

Monalisa drops Dejo Richards from her name?
WHAT is it that we hear is going on between Nollywood actress, Monalisa Dejo Richards nee Chinda, and the ‘love of her life’, Dejo-Richards? There is so much hush hush going around lately about them. We have refused to believe the talebearers, who have persistently brought it to our notice that the fair skinned actress (no be bleach aided oo) may have moved out of her matrimonial home. In fact, one waka pass touched the ground and pointed to the sky to make us believe that the University of Port Harcourt-graduate and mother of one had asked a Lagos based lawyer to separate what before now, ‘God had joined together’. The waka pass, who has made this matter his case, mentioned to us just yesterday that attempts to make the endowed actresschange her mind from dumping the man and father of her pretty daughter, she swore ‘to die, re-incarnate and marry again’ have proved abortive. Not only has Mona -- as the actress is simply called -- stopped picking calls from ‘in-laws’ and ‘out-laws’, we hear that she is contemplating putting herself in purdah and that only her brief as an ambassador of one of the leading telecommunication company can make her be seen at public functions for now. Anyway, we will watch as events go…but one waka pass think sey dey dust go soon settle. We ask am why him talk so and him say him go tender the poems wey Mona don compose on top Oga Dejo Richard head for court if he is called as witness to testify how oga Dejo bin dey shack Mona before their love story come wan tragic pass that of Romeo and Juliet!. To God be the Glory

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