By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Organisers of Village Arts & Film Festival better known as VILLAFFEST have concluded plans to hold the maiden edition of the annual festival in the quiet city of Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to Kelechi Eke, Founder and Director, VILLAFFEST will hold a week before Christmas, showcasing arts and screening films from eight countries including Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States.
In a statement, Eke revealed that the festival which will have filmmakers, artists, dancers and culture workers in attendance will open with a tour of the city and closes with an awards ceremony bill to hold at the Beland in Owerri.
Eke, who’s also the founder of the annual The African Film Festival, TAFF, in Dallas, Texas, the United States, said VILLAFFEST seeks to celebrate Africa’s cultural vibrancy through indigenous Arts and Films for the preservation of the people’s culture.
According to him, the festival will rekindle passion for local content as the only way in showcasing and exporting our unique cultural traits that has long been misrepresented across big screens around the globe.
He s aid: “The festival is scheduled to hold from December 16 to18. African artistic artifacts are the most original; our stories are only best told by us, for us, consumed by us and the rest of world.
“Arts and film have unique expression that goes beyond linguistic expressions. It harbours a natural emotional vehicle of communication that often needs no speech. The actions are worth a million words.
“Finding an avenue to harness and preserve our ancestral artifacts is a must for a sustained economic and social impact in our rural communities and cities often bombarded with western cultural emblems.
“Our youths should have hope and believe in themselves through their artistic expressions and films.
“From filmmaking to visual arts and performances, VILLAFFEST seeks to encourage African youths with interest in arts and film providing them a unique platform to harness and push the boundaries of their creativity.
“Challenging them to not only dream, but find like-minded mentorship opportunities which is much needed for their career growth while maximizing the avenues for networking opportunities.”
VILLAFFEST, according to him, is a sister festival to The African Film Festival (TAFF) in Dallas, Texas, USA.
TAFF was formed in 2015 as a non-profit organisation dedicated to African motion pictures to serve as a platform for educative references to African culture and to expose African films to non-African communities.
In her sixth festival year, TAFF has expanded to VILLAFFEST for celebrating indigenous arts and films; and for preserving and appreciating the African culture.
Explaining further, the Dallas-based award-winning filmmaker, said the organisers intend to use the platform to empower aspiring and untapped talents at the grassroots in Africa.
On why he’s hosting the festival in his home town, Owerri, Eke said he wants to include the South-East part of the country in the world map of film festival hosting cities, revealing that the likes of veteran actor, Pete Edochie, Patience Ozokwo, Richard Mofe Damijo, President of Directors Guild of Nigeria, Fred Amata, Okey Bakassi, Anne Njemanze, Angela Phillips will be in attendance.
Also, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Founder of African Movie Academy Awards, AMAA, and incumbent president of Association of Movie Producers, AMP, Nollywood patron, Andy Boyo, and the founder of African Film Festival, AFRIFF, Ms Chioma Use, have confirmed that they will attend the festival, which will be the first of its kind in the south east region.