by Onyeka Nwelue
Movie-making in Africa is tough and frustrating. From script-researching to scripting, down to casting and directing the finished work. The biggest challenge is – fundraising. The Africa Film Academy, an initiative of Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation, realized this and came up with the Africa Film Fund, which was launched at Eko Hotel & Suites on the 17th, October, 2010, with the musicomdian, Julius Agwu as compere, had all African cinema bodies being represented.
Ms Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, the CEO of African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) gave a very passionate and honest speech on the fate of African cinema. In her own words, ‘Africa has good storytellers and people who can tell our stories to the world in our way, in very special ways,’ but that their main challenge remains the area of funding. She recounted having met several young filmmakers and film enthusiasts who are passionate about what they do, but getting the resources to do these movies remains the biggest handicap.
She tells the story of her young friend, who keeps bombarding her with messages on her Facebook and making incessant phone calls about his movie project about a river goddess in Oguta. That the young friend had even gone to study scriptwriting in far away India, but he needs N10 million to do his movie. She feels the story is a fine one and happens to be one of the best she has read in a long time, but what stops this story from being transferred to the screen is fund.
And this continues to be the fate of many more other filmmakers.
But with the Africa Film Fund, projects like that could be realized and made available to the public. She assured potential investors that they will reap the fruits of their labour and that if they believe, they will be surprised at the outcome, which is hoped to be very positive.
The Minister of Information and Culture was represented by Mr. Afolabi Adesanya who assured Nigerian filmmakers of the support of the Government. He said that filmmaking is another tool with which Nigeria’s image could be transformed.
Zeb Ejiro, one of the pioneers of Nollywood spoke about the emergence of AMAA and how most of them didn’t believe in Ms Peace Osigwe’s vision. He recounted how after the first AMAA, he had to go to his village to do an Indigenous Language Film ‘to get an AMAA.’ For him, since the inception of AMAA, a lot of filmmakers have woken up and are ready to face the world. He also said that filmmakers started without the support of the government and should not rely on the government to make films.
Another speaker from the Northern film industry spoke on the values of Nigerian films, stressing that AMAA pays attention to these values, which he says it’s a good way of making sure that films don’t turn into gimmicks.
Tega, Ghanaian comedian came up to the stage, after Julius Agwu introduced him. For the audience, he failed to impress them and took much of their time. Infact, the audience got tired they asked him to get off stage. Life was breathed back on stage, when Julius Agwu tried to liken his style of comedy to those of Western comedians. He said the Nigerian audience has been through a lot and is very impatient. ‘Nigerians want things done sharperly,’ he said.
The Africa Film Fund Gala was graced by A-list Nollywood stars and practitioners: Joke Jacobs, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Segun Arinze, Fred Amata, Chico Ejiro, Kunle Afolayan and a host of others. It was an all star-event.
There were fashion shows by two different designers and the Dominion Band from South Africa impressed the audience.
It was a glamourous event, with everything set in other. The lighting was ok, except the power outage that happened twice. The dinner was good. People behaved civilly. However, the Nigerian time syndrome prevailed as the event started a little late after the slated time.
The thing is this: African cinema now has a foundation that can spin the range from the sublime to the crude to showcase the best of African cinematography.