By Benjamin Njoku
High level talks which precede endorsement and subsequent signing of film co-production agreements have reached advanced stages between Nigeria, France, Norway, Morocco and other countries.
According to the Nigerian Film Corporation,NFC, the nation’s leading regulatory film agency, discussions which started late last year and followed with formal meetings in Abuja and Jos,
with the afore-mentioned countries film development counterpart agencies has started to result in the upcoming signing of co-production agreements between both countries.
The fury of activities by officials of the NFC and CNC, positively suggested that both nations were poised towards having the co-production agreement before the French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, arrives Nigeria. However, bureaucratic delays meant that the signing ceremony had to be shifted to a later date in September this year in Paris. This will among others, strengthen bilateral relations between France and Nigeria in the transfer of skills and best practices, preservation of films and its exhibition from and within both countries, signed.
As at the last count, the closest Nigeria came to signing a co-production agreement was some three years ago with South Africa. That agreement is yet to be ratified by both nations and a date fixed for formal signing, despite much of film and video activities between films practitioner of both nations. Efforts are on to get the two nations to the talking table once more on the propriety of an early ratification of the draft agreement. The co-production agreement between Nigeria and France is long overdue. Whereas, both nations have robust film industries, with their film makers exchanging their film trade/profession over the years, such however, have not been under a formalized bilateral arrangement. This meant denying themselves the full benefits derivable thereof if a formalized co-production agreement had been in place. The agreement between Nigeria and France will result in the expansion of our film, television, video production and distribution. Directly linked to this, is the development of cultural and economic exchanges that will engender financial and economic benefits for both nations. This will be actualized through the use of local locations for film projects, expansion of markets and the development of skills. The significant and most important aspect of the agreement is the derivable impact and benefits to film practitioners. This relationship will bind both countries film practitioners who are expected to bring their creative skills, experience and other perspectives to bear on the co-production process. Furthermore, the agreement document is expected to fit into the UNESCO convention of 2005 on the protection and promotion of the diversity cultural expressions to which Nigeria and France are signatories. The few key components within the proposed agreement are significant, when situated in the context of Nigeria’s quest to leverage on bilateral relationships with other film cultures to address several challenges. Film heritage, film literacy, artistic cooperation, institutional exchanges, distribution and exhibition are component of the proposed agreement. Both parties are expected to formally create the necessary environment to enable their film practitioners bring their expertise and experience to bear in the conservation, cataloguing, restoration and digitalization of classic and vintage films.