By Benjamin NJOKU
One of the events that helped to shapeÂ the Nigerian motion picture industry last year was the hosting of the ION International film festival, in the Garden City ofÂ Port-Harcourt last December. The travelling festival, sponsored by Zain Nigeria, stopped at nothing in putting the country on the world map of movies.
Indeed, judging from the huge participation recorded at the festival, which had in attendance celebrities andÂ movie practitioners from Hollywood, Bollywood and other notable film industries across the globe, Zain Marketing Director, Mostafa Younes,Â representing the company at the climax of the event, expressedÂ satisfaction concerning the outcome of the four- day festival of films.
Meanwhile, to sustain the tempo of the festival this year, the Zain marketing director posits the need for Nigerian film makers to endeavour to utilise the opportunity offered by the hosting of the festival to reposition Nollywood and raise the bar to meet the international standard.
Speaking further, Younes said the decision to support the festival was in line with his companyâ€™s philosophy of promoting world peace and, especially, in the countries where the company has its operational base.
According to him,Â Zain was extremely proud to be associated with the ION festival. Their involvement in the festival was also to help change the global perception about Nigeria and the Niger Delta in particular.
He expressed optimism that the healthy interaction of Nollywood stakeholders with stakeholders from the international community would bring about the much needed experience to improve on the standard of movie production in the country.
â€œNollywood, as the second largest film producing industry in the whole world, with the interaction as a result of the festival with HollywoodÂ and Bollywood producers as well as producers from other notable film industries across the globe, Nigerian film makers will acquire more experiences in the area of film making,â€ he stressed.
While debunking the insinuations that the involvement of Zain in the festival was a ploy to dominate the movie industry in Nigeria, the companyâ€™s marketing director rehearsed the companyâ€™s commitment in supporting a movie industry that would flourish to the international standards through exposing its practitioners to the international scene.
Younes also informed that the event was attended by a number of Zain subscribers who took part in the sms promo that the telecoms operator embarked on as part of its efforts to promote the festival. This, according to him,Â showed considerable acceptance from the customer base of the network for the initiative.
Also, speaking, in the same vein, one of the organisers of the festival, Valentine Charles said, as a travelling film festival, they chose to look at the map to search for where the movie industry is flourishing and this research, led their coming to Africa and indeed, Nigeria because of its important role in the international film industry.
However, most of the celebrities who graced the event had the opportunity to interact with movie makers and actors all over the world including celebrated Hollywood actor Giancario Esposito, Malcom X and Bollywood acclaimed actress Makhija Masumeh.
Apart from showcasing some of the over 82 films nominated for award in the various categories such as Animation, Documentary, Narrative feature, short films, student short films, music videos and youths project in which Nigeria won most of the awards, there were opportunities to participate in panel discussions with accredited industry professionals on movie financing.