The Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) 2016 wrapped up in style on Saturday, November 19 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.
Critically acclaimed drama, “76”, emerged the biggest winner of the night with four awards for Best Male Lead (Ramsey Noah), Best Screenplay (Emmanuel Okomanyi and Izu Ojukwu), Best Director (Izu Ojukwu), and Best Feature Film. Some of the other big winners include Bimbo Akintola (Best Female Lead, 93 Days), Eric Aghimien (Audience Choice Awards, Slow Country), Abba Makama (Best Nigerian Film, Green White Green), Keni Ogunlola (Best Short Film, Lodgers), amongst other deserved awardees.
True to the theme for this year’s festival, besides recognising the individuals working to transform the African film industry, guests at the awards watched in amazement as the evening’s performances and performers went about “embracing the world”.
At different points of the grand closing event from commencement till conclusion, the audience witnessed several Broadway renditions of various popular musicals such as Sarafina and Moulin Rouge. The performances featured budding industry stars such as Adesua Etomi, A’rese, and Gideon Okeke, who was brilliant as Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in the reenactment of the late musician’s life and times.
Among the guests and film celebrities present at the awards were top dignitaries such as the Lagos State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, CEO of Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, and the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, who gave the closing remarks.
For an entire week, various locations in the city of Lagos were held cinematically spellbound by AFRIFF’s rich programme of activities. Starting with an impressive opening night on Sunday, November 13 with the critically acclaimed Birth of a Nation, days two to six of the festival continued with free movie screenings at Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, Silverbird Cinemas, and the recently launched Filmhouse IMAX in Lekki, talent development workshops, a workshop industry day, and other industry programmes.
The talent development workshops on Scriptwriting, Acting, and Filmmaking were facilitated by industry veterans such as Tunde Babalola (courtesy of the British Council), Hilda Dokubo, and Canon DSLR, while others featured Rita Dominic (Poise and Grooming), Kunle Afolayan (Directing), as well as other local and international partners including Montana State University.
Many more industry stakeholders were present at the forefront of the industry programmes which used masterclasses and seminars to hone in on important issues in the industry such as copyright concerns, marketing, production, creativity, and innovation, and impart knowledge to industry professionals. Thus, the nature, contents, and substance of the AFRIFF 2016 set it apart as not only an entertaining and unifying event, but a deeply educative, progressive, and generally productive one as well.
But last week at the festival wasn’t all about ‘business’. Delegates and attendees were also treated to exclusive hangouts, raves, and parties, the last of which was the “Soiree avec Reserve” to round off the week, following the AFRIFF Globe Awards. If the activities of the past week according to AFRIFF is anything to judge by, then the vibrancy and prosperity of the African film industry seems to grow with each passing year.