By HENRY AKUBUIRO
The 7th edition of Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF,) has begun with a prospect of more support for film business, as government representatives, business leaders and developmental agencies synergised at a recent glamorous ceremony at the Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, The Palms, Lekki, Lagos.
The Zambian film, “I am not a Witch”, directed by Rungano Nyoni, predicated on the travails of innocent African children struggling to contain the sham accusation of being a witch, was the opening gambit on Sunday night.
Through the screening, the audience was made to feel empathic at the trajectory of a poor girl as she became a tool in the hands of a dubious politician to rip off unsuspecting members of the public.
Next to be screened was the Nigerian movie entitled “Waiting for Hassana”, centred on the abducted Chibok girls, directed by the Nigerian filmmaker, Ifunanya Maduka. Like the former, it highlighted topical social issues relating to African children.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his welcoming address, said the Federal Government of Nigeria was very proud of Nollywood and was constantly engaging the stakeholders towards growing the industry.
Reiterating the initiative it was pursuing, he said, “We are pushing for a single-digit interest on loans for infrastructural developments for the Industry. We are supporting the building of 100 community cinemas to be evenly spread across the country. We are close to having world-class pre- and post-production facility using the current NTA infrastructure with a few additions.
“We want to ensure that, in the focus on studio facilities, we ensure
that one is located in every geo-political zone of the country. And on the back of the DIGITAL SWITCH-OVER of our television, we are
ensuring that the set top boxes are enabled to allow our 24 million TV
households to buy our movies with and without the need of data. This
way, the home goes digital!”
As AFRIFF aimed to celebrate and help in the development of the creativity and professionalism of the sector, the minister assured his ministry would ensure “we have an industry that can deliver a profitable return on investment for all the players.”
Mr Steve Ayorinde, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, who represented the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, described AFRIFF as “one of the leading creative platforms in Africa that has been consistent, truly awe-inspiring and which has found the Lagos arty landscape compatible with its own vision.”
Likewise, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Senate Minority Leader, recalled that during his first tenure as the governor of the oil rich Akwa Ibom State, he tried to contain the issue of child witches through education, convictions, and rehabilitations, though he affirmed that the issue was exaggerated in Africa as it also obtained in western societies.
Speaking in the same vein, French Consul General, Lagos, Mr. Laurent Polonceaux, said it was the first time that the French government was involved with Africa. “We will be having two days at the festival for French films, with possibility of co-production with Nigeria and Africa,” he added, noting that it was good that the festival would be closing with the French film, Felicite, even as he disclosed that arrangement had been made to have about 70 film students for further training in France as an exchange programme with AFRIFF.
Among the celebrities at the event were Hilda Dokubo, Uche Jombo, Wale Ojo, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Judith Audu, Linda Ejiofor, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Biola Alabi, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Fred Amata, Zick Zulu Okafor, Kunle Afolayan, and CJ Obasi.
AFRIFF, an annual week-long, art event, ends on Saturday, November 4, 2017. About 200 curated feature length, short, documentary and student films will be screened at the festival.