By Benjamin Njoku
There are indications that the government of United States of America (USA) is set to partner the Nigerian film industry, popularly called Nollywood, particularly in the areas of co-production treaties, protection of Intellectual Property rights and distribution, among others.
The US Assistant Secretary of State on Economic and Business Affairs, Ambassador Charles Rivkin, dropped this hint when he and his team met with a high-powered 6-man delegation of Nollywood on Wednesday, at The George Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, to discuss the challenges and economic prospects of Nollywood and how the US government can begin to officially partner the third largest film-making nation in the world.
According to Rivkin who was a former US Ambassador to France, his visit is to find a common ground between Nigeria and the USA in various sectors, including Nollywood, pointing out that the US was very much concerned about the issue of piracy and Intellectual Property protection in the sector.
“My visit today is one of a long line of engagements with U.S. in coming years and there will be other opportunities to collaborate on mutual interests. We will look at the issue of co-production treaties between our countries, getting your country to ratify and domesticate relevant World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties for the protection of Intellectual Properties especially online;
getting big US production studios to invest in Nollywood particularly in the areas of cinemas and other forms of distribution in conjunction with bodies like Netflix among other symbiotic relationship,” Rivkin stated.
The Nollywood delegation included Alex Eyengho (President, Association of Nollywood Producers, ANCOP, and Vice President of the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations, FIAPF), Zik Zulu Okafor (President, Association of Movie Producers, AMP), Adeyinka Oduniyi (Vice President, Independent Television Producers Association, ITPAN), Gab Okoye, alias Igwe Gabosky (President, Motion Picture Distributors of Nigeria, MOPIDON), Andy Amenechi (President, Directors Guild of Nigeria, DGN) and Nobert Ajaegbu (Leader, Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria, FVPMAN).
Ejike Asiegbu who was to represent the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN) missed his flight from Abuja to Lagos. Ambassador Rivkin who was in Nigeria for a 3-day State visit had earlier met with the Presidency, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Trademark, Patents and Designs Registry (TPDR), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Rivkin is a friend to the film industry and has a background in the business (as an executive with Jim Henson’s production company – i.e the Muppets).