African Voice



written by Ekine Stronghold
A few says ago I was talking to a young Nigerian writer and filmmaker. I asked him if he will be at the AFRIFF press parley/cocktail event and he said no because he will be off to France. I asked what’s happening in France. He said he was surprised that a film journalist like me was asking him his business in France at this time of the year. Cannes film festival of course!! Everybody knows that. I gave him the usual face book lol. Of course I was aware of the Cannes film festival but I didn’t know he was attending. Immediately I understood his point and it is valid. Now here’s the point I want to make. The film festival has been promoted to a point that there is an international awareness that suggests that at a certain time of the year all roads lead to France for the Cannes film festival. The festival is sixty-six years old and has become a world brand.
For the country however, it is more than just festival time. It’s actually business time. It’s a time when everything business opens up. From tourism to entertainment, hospitality to transport, food to drinks, investment to property e.t.c. generally businesses experience a huge boost. The film festival creates an opportunity for the world to experience France and for France to get huge financial rewards. That is the ripple effect that the film festival business brings into that country at a particular time. So it makes sense when the private sector invests heavily on the festival. The more money the festival has the more employment opportunity it would create and the more money they can invest in the media to create such cross continental consciousness on the citizens of the world that at a certain time of the year there’s no better place to be, than in France and no other reason to be there but Cannes film festival.
Now here’s our opportunity to do same. The African international film festival is around the corner. I was invited to the press parley/cocktail over the weekend and honestly I can’t wait for sweet November to come. I am particularly convinced that this will be the best film festival ever on the African soil and I have my reasons for saying so. First, the event. Afy braimoh the project manager did a good job.  It was a classy one and top celebrities, filmmakers, press and top notch politicians where present to endorse and support the initiative. The high point of the event was when his Excellency, the governor of cross river state Liyel Imoke showed up to endorse and voice his support for the film festival to be held in his state. In his speech he said " we haven't really appreciated what we've developed,.........the creativity of the Nigerian is expressed in this industry like no other industry today and i think it is extremely commendable and that is why this festival, the African international film festival is relevant to us, so important to us". The governor spoke highly of nollywood, sparing no words in emphasizing his government’s believe in the industry as is seen in projects like the media village and the world class studio in Tinapa resorts. It is his opinion that a mixture of the great tourism potential of the state and the hospitality inherent will be a great plus for the festival.

Another reason I can’t wait for the African international film festival slated to hold from the 10th to 17th of sweet November 2013 is its focus on young film makers. This is one point I have been hammering on and finally it is here. Here’s an opportunity for young film makers that know what they are doing to come, make good presentations and access the funds they need to make their dream films. It is also an opportunity to network, learn and share ideas with the older generation or as kate henshaw put it, it’s also an opportunity for the older ones to learn from the young ones that think outside the box. whatever category you belong to, come and market yourself. That is not all, there will be an awards ceremony and for the first time, we will have awards that have monetary value attached, isn’t that wonderful? Now, no be just fine pako to decorate the shelf there will be some kudi to decorate one’s bank account.
Now this is the most important reason for me. Film festivals are no child’s play. It requires the expertise of seasoned, tested and proven professionals that know their onions. I tell you Chioma Udeh, the CEO has got her acts together and has proven to be a guru when it comes to head hunting. The crew has got the credibility and stature to pull off a film festival of world class. She’s put together a team of unrepentant film festival goers that have attended several film festivals all over the world and have come together to pool on their experiences to deliver on this project that will redefine film making and film festivals on the African continent. Chioma Udeh has a track record of successfully organizing film festivals, traceable from the ION film festival. This is her fourth outing and without a doubt she can hold her own. She has for a while now, run a logistics company of her own so she understands how key that is in making for a successful film festival.  Peace anyiam osigwe the CEO of the African movie academy awards (AMAA) is the creative director and in my own opinion there couldn’t have been a better option. When Ms. Chioma udeh told me this in an interview I knew right there that Africa and the world are about to experience the best film festival ever. I won’t blow her trumpet, it is already too loud to attract the respect of all African film makers even the Diaspora. Dadae the giant, Mr. Andy Amenechi the current president of Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN) is onboard as the technical director, his reputation precedes him. Barr. Nobert Ajaegbu the Lagos state chairman and national spokesperson of FVPMAN is in charge of strategy. we can see how he has impacted marketers and given them a modern and educated face. Others include Actress and songstress chika chukwu of fuji house of commotion fame, ikenna ezenyirioha, Julian nwagboniwe and Ihuoma nwigwe who is the head of Administration.
Now here the real reason why I can’t wait for sweet November. If you are a Nigerian, you must have at one point or the other heard of the prowess accredited to our sisters from cross river. First is the food and next is the hospitality. I have previously had an experience I won’t share but one I would have repeated and AFRIFF has provided that opportunity for me.  So I will heed Celine loader’s advice, she was the compere and oh what a wonderful job she did. I will pack my swimming suit, my dancing shoes, my writing notes, my camera, sunglasses and of course,  Andrews liver salt because I will taste every single cuisine available.
Finally I would like to end this piece by saying it is now our collective responsibility to keep AFRIFF in the news and create a buzz wherever is our base, no matter our trade and support the African international film festival, AFRIFF. Together we must create a cross continental awareness that will engulf the whole world so that whenever in sweet November anybody says he or she’s coming to Nigeria, It will be presumable that there is no other reason to be in Nigeria but AFRIFF.

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