As AFRIFF Opens Today In Lagos
For several years, filmmakers have clamoured for a platform that will promote venture business by Africans in the film industry and which would support stakeholders and organizations that make the films. They have lamented lack of established structures that should help the African filmmaker.
Attempts by filmmakers in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa to build a sustainable and prosperous film industry have failed because there is no access to funding and favourable policies for practitioners all over the continent. Where these structures exist, they are mainly adhoc in nature and are mostly not conceived as resource structures that will help the film industries in the continent grow.
But there seems to be a resolve by practitioners themselves to institute a platform that will make it increasingly possible for them to practice in a market-driven filmmaking industry. That platform is called the African Film consortium (AFC) and it is the brainchild of Nigerian-born Mykel Ajaere, popularly known as Mykel Parish. A Pan-Africanist with a vast knowledge of business across Africa, Ajaere, who has years of experience as an entrepreneur working on strategies, film development and charities, explained that the AFC has as its vision the responsibility to contribute to the development of an African focused filmmaking industry defined and guided by diverse African creative and cultural sentiments.
The mission of AFC, according to the widely travelled content entrepreneur, is to promote and build a sustainable and prosperous film industry for Africa that is based on the continent’s creative and cultural heritage.
Indeed, for Ajaere, “The AFC is passionate at developing outreaches across the continent and beyond that will empower African film projects. By so doing, we will develop an Africa film oriented market niche. The AFC assumes a clear endorsement to promote African film culture for the benefit of the African film audiences and stakeholders of African cinema globally”.
Interestingly, in just three months of its establishment, talk about AFC has grown to become the largest gathering of filmmakers working in and out the continent and the Diaspora started particularly on social media—on the Whatsapp application. “I created a group on Whatsapp and added film industry practitioners including journalists, entrepreneurs, film financing experts and administrators and sold the idea to them and they bought the idea and there was this felt need for us as Africans irrespective of geographical divide to team up and build a sustainable and prosperous film industry in Africa and as we speak we have over 1000 members who are signed up to AFC”.
But the number could be more considering that there are some filmmakers who because of their location are not on Whatsapp. Even Ajaere confirmed this when he stated, “There are over 3,000 supporters of AFC that can’t be on Whatsapp”.
In Nigeria alone, there are over 100 AFC members and they include such filmmakers as Mahmood Ali Balogun, Teco Benson, Opa Williams, Emeka Ossai, Founder and Executive Director of AFRIFF Chioma Ude, Kingsley Omoefe, Kennth Gyang, Mildred Okwo, Victor Okhai, Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi, Steve Ayorinde, Fidelis Duker, Victor Akande, Judith Audu, the Berlin based Nigerian born animator Ebele Okoye, Joke Silva and Richard Mofe Damijo.
The other members of AFC are from different parts of Africa and the world and they include the award-winning Ghanaian actress and AFC Goodwill Ambassador Ama K Abebrese, Firdoze Bulbulia, the immediate past Minister of Culture of Cameroun Ama Tutu Muna, the award-winning animator from Egypt Professor Mohammed Ghazala, Sohier Kadar from Egypt and Risper Muthamia.
Ajaere informed that already an advisory board has been constituted to steer the affairs of the consortium. With Mykel Parish as Founder and President, AFC advisory board is chaired by Sohier Kadar from Egypt. Kadar will work with six Vice Presidents – Risper Muthamia, former Regional director Mnet East Africa – Vice President East Africa, Dr. Mohamed Ghazala who is a professor of animation – Vice President North Africa, Victor Okhai – Vice President West Africa 1 (Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote D’voire, Togo), Lamin Manga is administrator and DG of Gambia TV – Vice President West Africa 2 (Sierra Leone, Gambia, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Conakry, Mail), Marc Nekaita who has worked with work with Fepaci – Vice President Southern Africa and Musi Waa is the founding President of the Cameroon film Industry – Vice President for Central Africa. ‘’The leadership of AFC is not permanent, their tenure will end but now they have a great task as pioneer executives’’ Ajaere explained.
AFC has chosen to hold its first summit in Nigeria. But it will not just be a gathering of AFC members alone, as the consortium has chosen to collaborate with the organisers of African International Film Festival, which opens today at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, to host an African Cinema Business symposium. Scheduled for Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 from 9am, the theme of the symposium is ‘Towards a Sustainable Business Framework For African Cinema.’ The symposium, as Ajaere explained, would feature a keynote presentation by Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi and conversations by highly placed African industry professionals including Hon. Ama Tutu Muna of Cameroon, Zama Nkosi (NFVF), Firdoze Bulbulia, Femi Ayeni (Ultima Studios), Ismael Ntihabose (Rwanda film federation), Lizzie Chongoti (Kenya Film Commission), who undoubtedly represent the increasing diversity and richness of the industry. Key issues in focus are sustainability, growth and harvesting opportunities in the film industry.
In its 6th edition, the Nigerian domiciled AFRIFF is reputed as one of the biggest film festivals on the continent. It will open today with Jonas Caprpignano’s touchy film on Africa’s migration crisis, Mediterranea.