The recently concluded Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) returned this year, marking its 7th season. The festival took place from October 29 to November 4, 2017.
AFRIFF 2016 saw a high level of engagement from Nigerian and African filmmakers and governments. This year’s festival strengthened international collaborations, with increased participation from the French government especially. AFRIFF 2017 dedicated two days – November 2-3, 2017 to French films.

There was a double dose of films, as the opening night selection consisted of one short film, ‘Waiting for Hassana’, an ode to the missing Chibok girls, abducted from their secondary school in 2014, directed by Ifunanya Maduka,  and the Zambian entry, ‘I am not a Witch’, helmed by Rungano Nyoni. Both films were selected on the strength of their merits, as they highlight important topical social issues relating to African children.

Kemi Lala Akindoju, Wale Ojo, Uche Jombo, Linda Ejiofor, Hilda Dokubo and Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi were some of the A-list stars who made their appearance on the red carpet.

Others dignitaries include filmmakers and film entrepreneurs such as Biola Alabi, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Fred Amata, Zick Zulu Okafor, Kunle Afolayan, CJ Obasi, Belinda Yanga, Kenneth Uphopho, as well as media personalities like Shaibu Husseini and Ameyaw Debrah from Ghana.

Showcasing Africa

Photo Credit: AFRIFF

The excitement continued Tuesday, as the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) entered its third day, opening with a lighting design masterclass facilitated by the Embassy of The United States. The six-hour long session which was held at the Ultima Studios, Lekki, Lagos, had interested delegates converge under the mentorship of veteran Christian Epps.

Delegates, following the money trail, gathered at the Eko Hotels and Suites for a high powered business clinic on co-financing and co-production opportunities with South Africa, facilitated by ‘Tango with Me’ director, Mahmood Ali-Balogun. Presentations were made by Zama Mkosi, Chief Executive Officer of South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation, as well as representatives from the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission as both countries explored avenues for smoother collaborations.

It was a British takeover at the Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, as the British Council presented the Film Connections, a project that seeks to increase partnerships between Nigeria and the UK. Nadia Denton, who curated the films selected for the showcase, had the audience spellbound as she presented useful tips for filmmakers, preparing their strategies for hitting the international festivals circuit.

Victoria Thomas facilitated an interesting clinic on packaging and pitching African stories to the global film market, a topic no doubt close to the heart of many attendees, considering the recent strides Nollywood has been making. There was also a session by academics from the Universities of Portsmouth and Greenwich on recording sound and producing for television.

The British Council Film Connections was headlined by the documentary, WHITNEY, can I be me, the latest from acclaimed British director, Nick Broomfield. A tour de force on the life of beloved singer/superstar Whitney Houston who passed away under tragic circumstances in 2012, the documentary was warmly received in its first Nigerian screening. Other films in the Film Connections selection include BAFTA winner, ‘Under the Shadow’, ‘The Hard Stop’, ‘A Moving Image’, ‘Robot & Scarecrow’, ‘Tower XYZ’ and ‘Mrs Bolanle Benson’.

At Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, the ultraviolent Haitian short film, ‘Kafou’, a bloody, depiction of gang life and jungle justice in inner city streets got positive responses. So did the Moses Inwang directed Omotola Jalade Ekeinde star vehicle, ‘Alter Ego’. ‘The Whale Caller’ (South Africa), the big screen film adaptation of Zakes Mda’s fantastical novel also screened.

The cautionary tale, ‘Las Gidi Vice’, about a lady sexually molested by an acquaintance and feel-good drama, ‘Armstrong, hoisted Nigeria’s flag in the shorts category at the Silverbird Cinemas, Victoria Island. Mozambique’s Oscar hopeful, ‘The Train of Salt and Water’ was screened alongside the France/Mali collaboration, ‘Wulu’, both films sharing a survival-in-spite-of-dismal-circumstances theme running through them.

Mildred Okwo, Funlola Aofiyebi Raimi, Lala Akindoju, Omoye Uzamere Abba T. Makama and C.J Obasi are some of the famous faces who participated.

Access Bank also facilitated a panel discussion on technology driven by entertainment with Ntel, Cisco and 9Mobile. Cisco introduced nVivo TV, a new OTT streaming video service offering access to Nollywood and international video content on mobile devices.

…and the award goes to

Photo Credit: AFRIFF

The Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) 2017 wrapped up in style on Saturday, November 4 at the Eko Convention Centre in Victoria Island with the festival’s prestigious Globe Awards, after a week of excitement, enlightenment, and celebrations that revolve around the African film industry and the very high prospects for its future.

The 2017 edition Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) came to a spectacular close with the presentation of the Globe Awards, Saturday night, at the Eko Hotel Convention Center.

It was a show of stars, as Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Kate Henshaw, Ramsey Nouah, Kunle Afolayan, Chioma Chukwuka-Akpotha, Kunle Idowu and Olu Jacobs among others all walked the red carpet.

Other guests include Bolanle Austen-Peters, Ini Dima Okojie, Linda Ejiofor, Omoye Uzamere, Nonso Bassey and Fred Amata.

The Globe Awards began with the national anthem and introduction of the hosts for the night – Lala Akindoju and Serge Noukoue, founder of Nollywood Week Paris. AFRIFF Project Director, Afie Braimoh introduced Newton Aduaka, the Artistic Director who then introduced the jury, headed by scholar Janaina Oliveira. Other members of the jury include Florian Plaucheur (AFP), Jahman Anikulapo, Mildred Okwo and Joke Silva.

Wulu (Mali), Felicite (Senegal) and Nigeria’s Hakkunde were some of the big winners and their 250,000 Naira cheques, each, were presented by Access Bank. Ghana’s Lydia Forson was named Best Actress for her role in Keteke while Ibrahim Koma received the Best Actor Globe for his solid work in Wulu. The Best Feature Film Globe and 500,000 Naira prize money went to the opening night film, I am Not a Witch(Zambia/UK).

The night was punctuated with vigorous dance appearances, a drama sketch on the impossibilities of filming in Lagos Nigeria and a show-stopping rendition of the Brenda Fassie classic, Vulindlela by host Lala Akindoju, all put together by Kenneth Uphopo’s Paws studios.

Founder/Executive Director of AFRIFF, Ms Chioma Ude thanked the sponsors, partners and expressed her appreciation by introducing the entire team plus volunteers on stage to receive some credit. Alongside Canon’s Katie Simmonds, Ude introduced the winning students from the DSLR, screenplay and acting workshops.

Winner of the Accelerate Filmmaker Project, Priye Diri, who won for her short, XOXO Leo was presented and she gave a moving speech narrating her AFRIFF journey, which started in Port Harcourt, Rivers state and has now culminated in a scholarship opportunity to attend a film school in France.

Empowering the next generation of creatives in the media industry

Photo Credit: AFRIFF

For five days, students from different African countries were put under the expert and watchful tutelage of directors, scriptwriters and Nollywood veterans in the Afrinolly Space at Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos. Their instructors – Hilda Dokubo, Victor Sanchez-Aghahowa and Leke Alabi-Isama – ran them through courses on the fundamentals and essentials of their various fields. One of the trainers, Danilo Rodriguez also took students (including myself) through a Canon Live Streaming Workshop.

Although not all of the students could go on to become beneficiaries of the AFRIFF Scholarship, 15 trainees were selected, one of whom is Edore Nakpodia. She was selected from the scriptwriting class to further her training. All the awarded trainees are poised to use the knowledge and experience garnered at the AFRIFF training to not only develop their personal artistic talents but to contribute their quota in making the Nigerian film industry truly world-class.

Last year, Cynthia Okoroafor, a staff writer of Ventures Africa was selected along with other young and upcoming stakeholders in the Nigerian film industry to further their training abroad. Cynthia is currently undergoing training at CineFabrique, Lyon, where she will be presented with a positively empowered outlook for 2018 and the future.

Over the past seven years, AFRIFF has covered numerous cities and had over 20,000 visitors, of which about 30 percent have been foreign. Each year, the global invitation to the world fixates on exhibiting the large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages on our continent and combatting the absence of authentic African subjects in film. The festival also provides an enabling pace for young, creative, and passionate minds to ensure that this continental goal for the film space is met.

The Africa International Film Festival is an annual weeklong, all-encompassing world-class showcase. About 200 carefully curated feature lengths; shorts, documentaries and student films will be screened this year. The festival also encompasses talent development classes, industry workshops and inspiring creative discussions.

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