Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Africa International Film Festival Comes to Nigeria

Chioma brings AFRIFF to Lagos for good

Sunday, 13 November 2011 00:00
Life Magazine

Chioma Udeh, the founder and project director of Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), says all is set for the second edition of the yearly film fest that has become a platform for the world to see and appreciate the talent and beauty of Africa through films.

Holding from November 30 to December 4, AFRIFF as Chioma who functions as the local (Nigeria) producer of ION confirmed will hold in Lagos — at the Silverbird galleria, Genesis cinema and Oriental hotel — as against earlier plan to hold the festival in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

She hinted that though the dialogue to have the Rivers State government host both local and international filmmakers, celebrities, film buyers, distributors and other stakeholders is on going. She also informed that the decision to stage the festival in Lagos is for ‘good.’

We are in Lagos for a good reason

We are in Lagos because we want to identify with Governor Babatunde Fashola’s dream of transforming the state and his desire to build a film city here. Though discussions are ongoing with the Rivers State government on the possibility of having the festival domiciled in Port Harcourt as we have in Berlin and Cannes, even Burkina Faso.

Also, we received a number of enquiries from filmmakers who came in last year from abroad wanting to see the new Lagos. You know they flew in and up again to Port Harcourt. So, this is an opportunity for them to unite on the grounds of Lagos. Like we did last year, we will welcome them to Nigeria and Africa like never before.

Our theme has always been same

The AFRIFF theme is Africa Unites. That has always been our goal and it draws on the principle that being African is a bond that goes beyond geography, birth or lineage; as people of African origin are spread across the globe.

The vision is to reflect a common true African identity and re-establish Africa as an original home for all.

The content

Last year, we were applauded for our content. We had very good films in and out of competition. This year, we have even better ones. I have a team of internationally acclaimed film curators who have been working to ensure that we watch quality films.

I mean with people like June Giviani and Peace Anyiam Osigwe, you cannot expect anything less. So, we are tight on films. We will screen films in and out of competition and a few classics. Last year, we featured films by the great Ousmane Sembene and this year, we have a couple of such films too.

Not all about films

Though, it’s a film festival and so, we should see films, what we have done as we did last year is to create a platform for filmmakers to network.

We are also going to give something back to Nollywood and, of course, to budding filmmakers in the country. We have organised a number of master classes, which will be for free.

So, while the films will be shown at the cinemas, the filmmakers will meet daily to exchange ideas, seal deals, especially production deals. We have also invited some top Hollywood stars that will host sessions with some of our filmmakers. We are bringing back the talented Rockmond Dumbar, he was amazing last year and people want him back.

We also brought in Lynn Withfield and Tchinar Arnolds. I mean I have interacted with them and they all seem to agree that Africa and Nollywood have been able to capture the world’s attention. AFRIFF provides the platform to connect people from around the world, creating common ground hence promoting boundless unity.

We may return to Port Harcourt

Yes, we may return there if we make a head way with our ongoing discussion or we may just stay here if Lagos provides us with all we need. Film festivals cost so much to organise, especially when you have to fly in filmmakers, your jury, special guests, resource persons and so on.

I mean you also have to make them feel at home and take them around to see Nigeria or the host state beyond the negative images they are shown on television. So, depending on the outcome we may or may not return and in that case we will keep the hosting open.

But we are good to go with this edition and we have received tremendous support from some corporate organisations and individuals and we are still seeking more support.

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