By BENJAMIN NJOKU
US-based Nigerian film maker and founder,The African Film Festival,TAFF, Mr. Kelechi Eke has taken a swipe at the activities preceding the yearly festival, which holds in Dallas, Texas, declaring that it has lived up to its slogan of “Bridging Cultures through Film.”
Eke made this declaration in a chat on Whatssap with NollyNow. The festival, he said was established about four years ago to promote African culture through film in the diaspora. And for past four years, the festival has not only succeeded in telling deeply rooted cultural stories about Africa, but also, it has spotlighted problems facing many parts of the continent.
Outlining some of the achievements of the festival, the award-winning film maker expressed satisfaction that it has lived up to its expectations. “We have done this by telling and promoting our stories in the diaspora. Also, we have been able to connect Americans with our culture through film and the many film makers that attend the festival from across the globe remain a testament to the achievement of our vision,” Eke stated.
Speaking further, Eke said “We have been encouraging filmmakers to tell our stories” adding that “TAFF set up various film workshops across Africa through its ambassadors in 12 different countries to encourage budding filmmakers.”
“Through these grass root efforts, we hope to keep receiving and screening high quality films in our festival. We also keep reaching out to audiences for these films. We also developed ROOTFLIX, a mobile streaming platform to showcase festival-caliber films at the convenience of supporters,” he added.
Eke, however, listed lack of sponsorship as one of the challenges seriously facing the full realization of the objectives of the festival. He recalled the activities that preceded this year’ s edition which held between June 27 and 30h, 2019, describing it as memorable.
According to him, the festival was also covered by Voice of America (VOA) in English, French, and Swahili and aired in World News segments across the globe.
Opening on Thursday, June 27 ,2019 at the Pan African Connection, the festival screened about 18 short films from over 10 countries on the first day. It also screened a total of 70 films from 30 countries and three continents while it lasted as film makers, actors, and directors were readily on hand to answer questions and talk about the film industry in various African countries.
Screening so many films, Eke explained was possible by making some of the films available on ROOTFLIX, a streaming platform designed for festival films, available on google play. Apart from screening of films, the four-days event also witnessed series of events including workshops, symposiums and networking. The festival climaxed with an award ceremony, held at Dallas City Performance Hall. The world premiere of ‘Pathbreakers’, a short documentary filmed in Uganda, and Nigeria’s “Putting Safety on the Front Burner” closed the festival.
Zambian music sensation, Oscillation thrilled guests at the colourful ceremony which was hosted by Patience Ozokwo. Among the big winners of the night were “Nogochi”, a film from Mali, which won the Best Narrative Film and “Golden Fish, African Fish”, a film from Senegal, also won Best Documentary Film. Some of the film makers that attended the festival were Timoth Conrad Kachumia from Tanzania, Andy Boyo from Nigeria, Debi Lang, US-based Ugandian film maker, Kang Quintus from Cameroon, actress Soleil Diva from Democratic Republic of Congo among others.