Nigeria, S’Africa Partner For Film Business

Ali Balogun, Chioma Ude, Pedro Pimenta and Adile Buwa
Ali Balogun, Chioma Ude, Pedro Pimenta and Adile Buwa
It was its bid to partner with Durban international Film Festival (DIFF) that organisers of Nigeria’s Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) sent a 15-man delegation to the recent Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in South Africa.

During a co-production fact-finding mission facilitated by the Kwazulu Natal Film Commission and coordinated by Jackie Mosepe and Mahmoud Ali-Balogun on the Nigerian end, the leadership of DIFF and AFRIFF agreed to enter into a mutually benefiting exchange and relationship.

Already DIFF enjoys partnership with Afrinolly, a film developmental initiative run by Chike and Jane Maduegbuna. This year Afrinolly presented four short films made by artists it groomed through a Ford Foundation grant. The four films are Timothy by Ejiro Onobrakpor, Henna by Ishaya Bako, Once by Jay-Franklyn Jituboh and The Dutiful Wife by Soji Ogunaike. The movies featured on the fringes during the 10-day festival.

But it appeared that AFRIFF delegation, comprising its Founder/CEO, Chioma Ude, its Advisor and Chairman of Audio Visual Rights Society (AVRS), Mahmood Ali-Balogun, AFRIFF’s Artistic Director, Keith Shiri, Programmes Director, Afie Braimoh, Project Manager, Chioma Onyenwe and notable filmmakers like Kunle Afolayan, Mildred Okwo, actors Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Hilda Dokubo, Uru Eke and Charles Novia, solely came as part of a panel discussion on how to strengthen relationship between AFRIFF and DIFF on one hand, and Nigeria and South African film sectors, on the other hand. This is because the delegation which also comprised some staff of AFRIFF and media workers like Julian Nwagboniwe, Ikenna Ezenyirioha, Anthonia Nwajiugo, Ayorinde Ojo, Ihuoma Nwigwe, Joe Hundah and Sam Onyemelukwe of TraceTV arrived three clear days after the end of the biggest aspect of DIFF and the largest gathering of filmmakers, the Durban Filmmart and just two days to the end of the festival.

This explained why there were more Nigerians and South Africans at the panel discussions than there were filmmakers from other parts of the continent. By the time the delegation arrived, nearly all the DIFF guests from other parts of the continent and the world have left Durban. If there were guest, then they were probably those who still had their films running or guests who were waiting to be part of the closing ceremony.

But at the panel discussion, DIFF Director Pedro Pimenta, provided insight into the partnership between DIFF and AFRIFF. Pimenta said that it was meant to provide exchange programmes between filmmakers from Nigeria and South Africa. According to him, “One of the resolutions reached when we met in March was that DIFF and Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) should consider closer ties and partnership, and come up with ideas to activate something during DIFF and also activate something during AFRIFF which is taking place in November. So, AFRIFF is here and indeed the partnership has begun. Today we have the iThekini Filmmakers Association led by Andile Buwa.

“For several years, AFA has issues with DIFF because, for whatever reason, they couldn’t find a space for them at DIFF. So, if it’s about the space, it’s been created. I see no reason why there should be no space for an association of filmmakers of their pedigree. Now AFRIFF bought into it; other Nigerians bought into it and that is why we are here. And now, the members can interface with actors and filmmaker from Nigeria”.

For Ali-Balogun, the partnership between DIFF and AFRIFF transcends using the platforms to showcase offerings from both countries. According to him, “Apart from using DIFF and AFRIFF as platforms to showcase substances from both countries, one of the resolutions is to look at our different production models, as well as our finance models. The other one is about our talents, which is on how we can rub minds, exchange ideas and see how we can benefit from each other”.

Ude could not hide her excitement at the new partnership with DIFF. She stated that she decided on the partnership because of the great potentials that it holds for both industries. In her words, “For me, I see this as a great beginning, and there is so much the two countries can come together and do. And for those that are not from these two countries, there is a lot you can also feed from what is going on”.

The high point of activities for the delegation was the colourful AFRIFF/TRACETV party, which observers hailed as the real closing party of DIFF. But AFRIFF will not only be remembered for its party. There was a glamorous evening at the Velvet Lounge, Florida Road, which gave filmmakers the most relaxed atmosphere to network. It will also be remembered for facilitating an exchange programme between Nigerian motion picture industry, AFA and South African actors and filmmakers in general. AFRIFF will also be remembered for training young filmmakers at the Montana State University’s Film Department and Relativity Film School in the U.S., with some of them being part of Durban delegation.

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