By Benjamin Njoku
With over fifty filmmakers from seven countries of the world, including over two hundred local film makers and stakeholders in attendance, this year’s edition of the prestigious Africa International Film Festival, AFRIFF, which ends today in Calabar, Cross River State, will go down in history as one of the very important film festivals that have helped to redefine the place of Africa in the world of film making.
According to the verdict of the delegates, this year’s AFRIFF, unlike the previous editions has all the trappings of a high profile film festival that is devoid of shortcomings. From day one of the festival till the last day, Tinapa Resort, venue of the three year-old festival was a beehive of activities. Training, workshops, screening of films, interactive sessions and networking have been the highlights of the festival.
Interestingly, part of what has made this year’s AFRIFF, a unique outing was the screening of South Africa’s controversial film “‘Of Good Report’, which was banned from the opening of the Durban film festival few months back.
The film, produced by Luzuko Dilima and director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, opened the festival amid controversy. It provoked a lot of interesting debate and discussion. There was lively discussion about various aspects of the movie, including the structure of the movie, subject matter, and intent of the filmmaker. However, the film received accolades after the screening at the FilmHouse Lakes Side, as delegates appreciated the relevance of this film which explores ‘a dark tale of a South African high school teacher who becomes obsessed with a 16-year-old female pupil.”
Luzuko Dilima, the producer, who was accompanied to the festival by one of the actresses, Lee-Ann Van Rooi, informed the festival audience at a press conference that the film was banned because it raised serious issues as it affects the girl child in South Africa, contrary to the claim by the country’s Film Board that it constitutes child pornography.
Another memorable experience at this year’s AFRIFF is the all-night parties at Tinapa Lakeside Hotel. Oganisers ensured that there was no dull moment while the festival lasts. Day two of the festival ended with a spectacular party at the Lakeside. It afforded the delegates the opportunity to unwind. The party, which went on until the early hours of Tuesday morning was an opportunity for many of the delegates to bond and network. The likes of Rita Dominic, OC Ukeje, Lilan Esoro, Bhaira Mcwizu, Uche Jombo are constant presence at the festival’s star-studded parties.
Day three of the festival saw more screening of movies and technical workshops. A panel discussion titled ‘Going International’ also took place at Filmhouse Cinemas, Marina Resort. The discussion was moderated by Kene Mkparu, MD/CEO of Filmhouse Limited.
On the panel were Richard Aseme,Director Theatrical Sales EMEA, Paramount Films, Ayo Sewanu GM, Silverbird Cinemas, Moses Babatope,Operations Officer, Filmhouse Cinemas, and Dapo Oshiyemi,Talking Drum Entertainment.
The panel discussion was highly informative and lively. Ayo Sewanu of Silverbird Cinemas emphasized the need for film makers need to discuss marketing strategy with knowledgeable distributors even before embarking on shooting a film.
Mention was also made by various people about the importance of taking films to other African countries. Also, the day saw a highly successful screening of Kenneth Gyang’s award-winning movie, Confusion Na Wa.
Screening of more movies at Filmhouse Cinemas, continued on Day four of the festival, including Andrew Worsdale’s Durban Poison, Licinio Azevedo’s Virgin Margarida, and Michael Adeyemi’s Sodiq. Participants at the acting workshop also presented for short performances. After the presentation of performances at the acting workshop, participants were addressed by several established actors and filmmakers, including Charles Novia, Uche Jombo, Rita Dominic, Chioma Akpotha, and Lydia Forson.
Other Nollywood actresses in attendance include, Omoni Oboli, Lilian Esoro, Linda Ejiofor, Uru Eke, founder of AFRIFF founder, Chioma Ude, were equally glamorous at the event. Just as their male colleagues like OC Ukeje, Kunle Afolayan, Desmond Elliot, Chinedu Ikedieze a.k.a Aki and John Njamah did not disappoint their fans with the lovely looks.
Also,in attendance are President of Directors Guild of Nigeria,DGN,Mr. Andy Amenechi, Mahomood Ali-Balogun, Fidelis Duker, Lancelot Imasuen, Bond Emeruwa, Emma Isikaku, Nobert Ajaegbu, Kehinde Bankole, Charles Novia, Segun Arinze, Tope Alake. From Hollywood came Lynn Whitefield who eventually is one of the festival ambassadors and Vanessa Williams.