BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
IN less than a month, between December 9 and 12, Port Harcourt, the Garden City, will play host to the traveling international film festival, ION. Earlier staged in Los Angeles (2007), Dubai (2008) and scheduled to move to Istanbul in 2010, the festival is coming to Africa via Port Harcourt. Moviedom engaged the festival’s Artistic Director, Catherine Ruelle, on Nollywood and ION in Nigeria…
Take on Nollywood
The Nigerian movie industry differs from other industries around the world; it is not a product of private-public alliances, but rather it is essentially self-financed. This is both a strength — it highlights self-drive and independence — and a weakness; as it is more fragmented and resource constrained. When referring to the Nigerian movie industry as ‘Nollywood’, an established brand with the potential to expand and diversify into additional genres, techniques, themes and audiences.
Nollywood has achieved a remarkable growth, both in terms of productivity and outreach beyond Nigeria and Africa. The industry succeeded in creating its’ own audience appeal, which is at the basis of its genuine potential. Audiences embrace Nollywood’s content as an alternative to other available contents because it has managed to make them feel something new or different.
The Nigerian movie industry is coming from a difficult place, one of limited training in the art of filmmaking and shoestring budgets. However, the industry has produced more movies than Hollywood.
The spirit of Nollywood is amazing, its potential is huge and an encouraging number of new talents are emerging with movies that aim to entertain and at the same time shape minds, and make an impact on people’s lives. The industry is therefore expanding with new angles, content, techniques and a growing recognition. Despite the economic downturn that has resulted in a reduction in the number of movies produced, an increasing number of producers are investing larger budgets and longer production schedules and are choosing to release their movie in line with the tradition worldwide, from premiere, to cinemas, to home video.
There is a need for more collaborations, training, partnerships, to enhance the entire filmmaking process, from development to distribution. The industry is opening up to partnerships and co-productions with foreign talents and also Nigerians in the Diaspora interested in sourcing and/or shooting their stories in Nigeria. This offers an opportunity to expand the local skills base in the craft.
Alliances of the Nigerian movie industry with South Africa, Europe, the US and India are key to its sustainable and structured growth and to enhance production quality and profitability through distribution. This in turn will make it easier to attract capital through strategic partnerships between content producers and content distributors.
The world is hungry of stories from Africa, that offer insights into one of the most mysterious continents in the world. Partnering with Nigerian movie industry — the most populous, dynamic and entrepreneurial country in Africa — gives the opportunity to expand the awareness about this rich continent, tap into its rich artistic creativity, and tell new stories from a new perspective to complement existing ones and expand the boundaries of the world movie market.
Expected impact of ION on Nollywood
The industry is still very green and the journey of integration into the more traditional and global cinema circuit is long. Not everyone is walking that journey, which is why it is important to attract the right partners. It is here that the opportunities lie — not where everything is already being done and reloaded. Cinema has changed tremendously in the last 20 years and will continue to change.
Nigeria with its dynamic and large marketplace has an opportunity to shape its own style to offer to local and global audiences a new upcoming cinema.
ION Festival travels the world searching for outstanding achievements in the art of movies, and Nigeria’s industry has achieved a lot in spite of all odds. The festival was attracted from the beginning to come and celebrate the achievements so far, but also, to offer a platform to showcase the industry’s vast potential with its ocean of talented artistes and hungry audiences for more stories and more quality — not only reaching out to Nigerians, but also to update potential partners from around the world that might be searching for new “green” opportunities.
The festival wants to invite them to come, to read about it or even to hear about it and experience Nigeria and the Niger Delta’s heart, Port Harcourt and their limitless potential. ION Film Festival will show Nigerian movies along with movies from around the world and has a workshop series designed to refine local skills and standards on screenwriting, cinematography, lighting and film scoring as well as film packaging and networking.
The festival has a commitment to be part of the development of the local industry, which could significantly impact on the Nigerian economy and individuals. The film festival, which originated in Los Angeles and moves around the globe would like to invite the different stakeholders such as banks, fund managers, consulting firms, insurance companies, production houses, and distributors and so on that can play a role in the development of the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Around and about Nollywood...
AMAA Goes To London African Film Festival, LAFF
ORGANISERS of the African Movie Academy Award, AMAA, say they will send a delegation to the London African Film Festival (LAFF) scheduled to hold from November 26 and December 3, 2009. The delegation is to participate in a conference on African Cinema, where it is expected to brief filmmakers on the steps taken so far to guarantee the success of one of the Academy’s major events; the yearly AMAA award. Aside this presentation, new currents in narrative forms will be the special focus of the 2009 London African Film Festival.
The organisers announced that they are showcasing debuts of a wide range of dynamic, young film-making talents and the most creative of TV/film practitioners to celebrate the energy that young Africans from all corners of the continent have brought to drama as they embrace the digital age. The festival launches with screening of a selection of feature films and documentaries including the UK Première of Tariq Teguia’s Inland; Abakar Chene Massar’s Captain Majid, a film that is a metaphor of the disenchanted youths in Chad and the Ethiopian; Nega Tariku’s “ Adera, a story of an Ethiopian refugee’s struggle to survive in Johannesburg will also be shown. A selection of the best of AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards) that include the Nigerien documentary filmmaker Sani Elhadj Magori’s seminal documentary For The Best And For The Onion, which is about one man’s determination to get the best onion harvest in other to marry the love of his life; Wanuri Kahui’s From A Whisper, a superb drama based on the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998.
Central to the festival is a major conference entitled “Producing and Distributing African Film in the Digital Era” which holds on Sunday, November 29, in partnership with the University of Westminster Africa Media Centre (AMC) and in association with the Communication and Media Research Institute. This one-day interdisciplinary conference will have in attendance people from the academia, film and video producers, policy makers, film distributors and African specialists in diverse fields to debate the role and future of African film and video.
…Now accepts entries for the 2010 premier African Film award
The Africa Film Academy invites filmmakers to submit their Feature, Short, and Documentary works for consideration by the 6th AMAA, the premier Africa film Awards. Each completed entry form must be accompanied by all the supporting materials listed on the submission forms, including the synopsis of the film, the list of credits, marketing stills of the film, filmographies of the directors and producers, 10 DVD copies of the film and proof of the right to submit. Only films produced and released between December 2008 and December 2009 would be entered for the 2009 celebration of African Cinema to be held in 2010. All films must indicate year of copyright.
The Africa Film Academy, says it will not accept any film that exceeds the 120-minute run as a feature or a short film that is longer than 50 minutes. The AMAA awards two major categories of short films and animation. This year the Academy announces a category for the Best African Film in the Diaspora and the Best Diaspora Short Film Awards. The deadline for all submissions is December 30; a late entry deadline is January 7, 2010. Nominations will be announced in Ghana in February 2010. AMAA will hold on April 10, 2010 and will be televised across the world. Submission forms are downloadable from the Awards website. For further information, contact AMAA at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOPA holds December 4
THE Association of Movie Journalists (AMJ) has concluded plans to hold the third edition of the yearly Nollywood Outstanding Personality Award (NOPA). The award according to a statement signed by the associations National President, Stanley Okoronkwo, will hold on December 4 at Terra Kulture, Taimiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. Okonkwo disclosed that awards will be presented to some Nollywood personalities, who have distinguished themselves in their different beats. Publisher of Today’s Choice Magazine and Chairman Advisory Council of the association, Chief F. Onita Coker, and Chief Walter Ibekwe Ofonogaro are expected as special guests at the event. The chairman for the evening will be Dr. Peter Igho, MFR, while His Royal Majesty, Eze (Dr.) I. A.Ikonne will be the Royal Father of the day.
Fribourg International Film Festival
THE organisers of the 24th edition of Fribourg International Film Festival (Switzerland) have announced that the festival will hold from March13 to 20, 2010. The Fribourg International Film Festival promotes quality films with the objective of contributing to cinematographic and cultural diversity in Switzerland and in Europe. The Festival selects films primarily from Asia, Africa and Latin America. To encourage the distribution of the films selected, distributors, cinema owners and film critics are invited to attend the event. The official selection includes a competition open to feature films both fiction and documentaries. The Festival organises as well non-competitive sections focusing on films, which have rarely or never been shown in Switzerland (fiction and documentaries or animation, be they short, medium or full-length). However, they must be presented as Swiss premiere (priority will be given to European premiere for the competition). The filmic event proposes also a programme intended for schools and universities and publishes a catalogue with full details. Encounters and debates are organised between filmmakers, the audience, journalists, and professionals. In order to be eligible for selection, films must be submitted no later than December 5, 2009. To submit a film, please check out the regulations and fill in the online entry form via the website www.fiff.com Those wishing to participate or to submit entries can also contact the FIFF directly at email@example.com
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities
‘Dem say’ they have ‘kidnapped’ Nkem Owoh
IT was the actor, producer, singer, writer, and director Andy Chukwu (aka five-in-one), who told us late on Monday night. We almost didn’t pick the call because we thought he wanted to hint us about the forthcoming Actor’s guild election of which is he is an electoral panel member. But when he mentioned Osuofia, we thought the inevitable has happened. ‘Ol boy, dem say, dem don kidnap Osuofia (Nkem Owoh) ooo’ was the message Chukwu gave us. Naturally, our response will be: again... where…how? But the other thing we heard from Andy on the other side of the phone was that the details were still sketchy, but that the kidnappers were asking for a whopping N15m and that they at the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria have swung into action to save Owoh. ‘We are reaching out to members, so the authorities can be properly alerted’ Andy surmised. Oh, well, one waka pass has since gone on dry fasting, so, that Osuofia’s case can turn out like that of Chief Pete Edochie, who was allegedly kidnapped, but released days after without a mention of any ransom that was paid. The waka pass also thinks we should advice the kidnappers to look elsewhere. Reason: there is drought in Nollywood. People have not been working. If you turn most of the practitioners upside down, it is probably their car keys that will fall off their pockets’. Not to me talk am o!
Steve Eboh aka Ajebo is angry
STEVE Eboh, the actor and producer, who is popular as Ajebo, returned from London during the weekend and thought he should touch base with his friends. So he called someone, who is close to the fellow we know and announced that he had just returned from London with an award — best screen play award — he received from the organisers of the ZAFAA award. ‘Best screenplay award? For which movie? we asked and the fellow gladly told us it was for the 9-hour long Concubine, which Ajebo helped a popular marketer produce but, which has failed to hit the market because they are still editing the movie, two years after they finished shoot. You will now see why wakapass was surprised at the award. Anyway, the offside of this gist from Ajebo is that he is threatening fire and brimstone. They say he is calling for a state of emergency to be declared in the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN). They say Ajebo thinks that members of the Board of Trustees of the AGN should subject themselves to proper checks for the decision they took recently bordering on the AGN. Ask us which decision did BOT take: ‘that Kanayo Kanayo’s interim national caretaker committee has been sacked. In its place is a government of national unity to be headed by Segun Arinze while Ajebo will serve as Vice President.’ Now tell us, is this power struggle summersault not enough to make a six-footer like Ajebo mad!
Victor Ohkai didn’t roam his phone
FILMMAKER and Director General of International Film and Broadcast Academy, Victor Okhai, who is in Cairo, Egypt, as President of the Feature Film category of the Cairo International Film festival, did not roam his phone. Hard as waka pass tried, waka pass couldn’t reach Okhai to discuss a matter of mutual importance. Well, if you know someone, who can reach him in the land of pyramids, please let him know that someone we know left this message for him on my phone. The message is a repost to his comment on the ‘snoozing’ distribution framework of the National Film and Video Censors Board: Victor — read your interview in today’s The Guardian Life (that was last week) on the new distribution policy as a failure. Can you please be more specific? Generalisation is not helpful. If it is a failure, what is your alternative? For the first time, we now have licensed national, regional distributors! If they are not yet functional, I suggest we pressure government to assist them than to reverse the landmark achievement! That is playing politics with the survival of the industry. Criticism should be constructive and specific. Nowhere else in the world is distribution informal as Nigeria. The industry would gain more if government can assist the licensed distributors than the informal system that won’t give us bank loan’. The author? Grab a copy, now.
Emem Isong other past time is eating well
ONE waka pass hopes the next time we speak to prolific female movie producer, writer and director, Emem Isong, about her other past time; she will not mention swimming, reading or playing ludo? The waka pass has threatened that if the producer of the folk language movie, Edikan, dares mention any of those hobbies, he will be the first to shout her down. Haba, not with her demolishing to size, a plate of well prepared eba and vegetable soup at O’jez Restaurant on Sunday. In fact, Emem’s posture and the way she crushed the bones, showed that her other past time is eating well and taking time off to enjoy whatever one has decided to eat. The waka pass said he was sure that even if Emem got a call that pirates have descended on her films, she would have put the call on voice mail if only to enjoy the meal. Cari go sista Emem, there is nothing like expressing yourself. To God be the Glory.