The National Film Corporation is really on a roll this 2020. Last week we announced that the corporation which is in charge of promoting film in the country had partnered with the Nigerian Ministry of Defense to fund films that promoted the image of our military forces through a call for collaborations with independent film makers. With the National Film and Video Censors Board acting as liaison between Nigerian filmmakers and international film festivals, industry insiders had worried that the government’s focus was primarily on censorship rather than collaboration.
But with this partnership with the Nigerian Ministry of Defense and newly announced ‘cooperation’ agreement between the Nigerian Film Corporation and the Centre National Du Cinema (CNC), it seems the NFC is finally ready to step into its own as a champion for Nollywood and its filmmakers.
Chidia Maduekwe, the Managing director of the NFC is the person behind this new wave of local and international collaborations and he will be working closely with Dominique Boutonnat, the CEO of the CNC to ensure that the new partnership is productive for Nigerians and provides returns for french interests. France has taken particular interest in Nigeria, with French media conglomerate Canal + buying a stake in Mary Remmy Njoku’s ROK Studios mid-last year for an unprecedented sum. The new agreement with CNC expands this partnership and qualifies as the first proper bilateral relationship with a focus on film production rather than distribution we are forging with the French government.
CNC will train Nigerian filmmakers on technical skill, archiving of our vast filmography as well as digitising historical productions. The CNC will also establish film clubs to promote an exchange of French and Nigerian cinema across borders, and labs to teach film production and post production. Most importantly, the partnership will also include grant of maximum €135,000 to film makers to produce collaborative projects that will then be screened in the French cinema system to maximize revenue from the projects. The project started on January 14 and will be renewed annually, with an option for either party to cancel the partnership 3 months before its expiry date.
Now matter how this plays out, Nollywood will benefit from increased collaboration with French cinema. The country has produced some of the world’s most experimental projects and maybe some of that magic will finally rub off on our industry.