Nollywood Film Festival… Loud In Germany
One undeniable fact about Nigeria motion picture industry is that it has become a global phenomenon. Observers have argued that apart from the vibrant Nigerian music scene, no other aspect of Nigerian cultural production has resonated in such a way and achieved its high profile like Nollywood’s offerings.
At a seminar recently, foremost technical theatre specialist and current Deputy Vice Chancellor, Management Services, University of Lagos, Prof. Duro Oni captured Nollywood’s continued impact succinctly when he remarked that Nigeria’s film industry is a major phenomenon on the arts circuit as a ‘search for the term Nollywood on the goggle search engine would immediately reveal over 8.3 million entries in 0.18 seconds. Indeed, the popularity of Nollywood films both within and outside the continent of Africa is to say the least overwhelming.
Just last week in Paris, France, Parisians trooped out in their numbers to watch Nollywood films during the just held Nollywoodweek Film Festival organised by France-based Okada Media. It was heartwarming to hear Europeans talk about Nollywood and what they like about the offerings of the industry. One Parisian who is a regular to the festival, which is in its third edition and which is held every June in Paris, remarked that the thing she liked about Nollywood movies was that it reads into the soul of its audience. He also said ‘their movies are about them, their way of life and that is what is good about it plus that it is able to read into the soul of its audience’.
Another festivalgoer who said he travelled from Switzerland to be a part of Nollywoodweek Festival stated that he was drawn to Nollywood films because ‘the narratives are easily recognised and are held dearly by ordinary Nigerians who constitute the main audience of the movies’.
If the Parisians audience had it good at the last Nollywoodweek Film Festival as exemplified by their comments, then lovers of Nollywood in Germany and its environs will look forward to the second edition of Nollywood Film Festival Germany (NFFG) and the third edition of Nollywood Europe Golden Awards (NEGA), two events that have contributed immeasurably in internationalizing Nigeria’s movie industry.
Scheduled to hold at the prestigious Filmforum Höchst VHS Cinema, Emmerich-Joselstr, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, from September 10 through September 12, 2015, the annual film fiesta is a platform to showcase films made by Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora while the NEGA is designed to honour those who have contributed to the growth of the industry.
Founder and President of Ehizoya Golden Entertainment, organisers of the festival, Mr. Isaac Izoya, also known as ‘Cultural Ambassador’, has announced that his organisation was ready for the second edition and the award. The show promoter, actor and film producer said considering the positive outcome of the preparations so far, they have no reason not to deliver a world-class event.
According to Izoya, who is best known for producing and featuring in productions like Final Solution, Sinners in the House, Zero Your mind, Home and Abroad, Love in Berlin, and Fortunes Card, said, “We have gone extra miles this time to include Nigeria’s best comedians and musicians with Nollywood stars in this year programme. We want Nollywood fans to laugh, have hand shake with the stars and later dance to have a complete fun at the NEGA Awards gala night and closing ceremony. Unlike the first edition when people have to drive about 12km from cinema to Awards Gala Night venue, we are lucky enough to have secured both cinema and gala venue within the same vicinity, just about 500 metres’ walking distance. We also have some additional reliable partners working with us both in the media and on the field”.
Already, organisers have secured diplomatic backing for the festival. Izoya revealed that the newly appointed Consul-General of Nigerian Mission in Germany, Mr. John C. Ejinaka has expressed his willingness to partner with the organisers for the success of the festival. Izoya said Ejinaka made the promise when a team from his organisation paid him a courtesy call. Ejinaka was reported to have said, “We are here to supports and facilitate such laudable projects that will project Nigeria in very good ways. Nollywood, undoubtedly, is like entry identity card for even those of the diplomats around the world. I personally love and watch Nollywood films and can’t wait to see our stars here in the city of Frankfurt during the festival”.
While commenting on the success story of the festival so far, the Consul-General said, “Nigeria is changing for good and entertainment has played a lead role in boosting the economy of the nation. I really appreciate what you are doing for successfully planting Nollywood seed in this part of the world based on your track record, Mr. Izoya. We are very much interested to contribute our quota for a successful event. Feel free to call any of us whenever you need us and we will be there for you. Expect the mission unlimited support”.
This year Ehizoya is partnering with a number of media and corporate organizations for the success of the festival. But the big catch for Izoya, apart from the partnership with the Nigerian Mission, is the involvement of the Frankfurt FilmForum Höchst. The cinema house played host to the festival in 2014. For Izoya who is a graduate of London School of Journalism, the decision of the German cinema house to accept the partnership proposal was a practical reflection of Izoya’s resilience and untiring efforts in promoting Nollywood across Germany, something Izoya has done successfully for close to 13 years.
In a telephone conversation, director of Frankfurt FilmForum Höchst Mr. Klaus-Peter Roth explained that the success of the festival last year informed their decision to partner with Izoya again. He stated, “We are good to go again for the second edition of NFFG. We have acquired some sophisticated machines to play some low or best standard Nollywood materials during the festival. Though we are really glad with what the programme director Isaac Izoya of Ehizoya Golden Entertainment and his team have achieved, film festival-wise, we only hope that the Nigeria government will see the need to support this noble project financially through the Nigeria consulate or Embassy. The organisers sure need funds to translate some of these movies for screening into German language so that the Germans can watch them with ease”.
Roth also appealed to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to support Nollywood. In his words, “Nollywood is becoming a fast-growing industry in the world which represents Nigeria’s image more than football and politics. If I were in any position to advise the Nigerian President, I will advise him to support Nollywood because it will help the country’s image”.
Meanwhile, entries have opened for the festival. Information on the festival sourced at www.ehizoyafilms.com indicates that deadline for registration of films will be August 1, 2015. The NFFG will close with an award ceremony on September 12 and on that day, Nigerians who have contributed to the growth of the industry would be recognised. Top Nollywood stakeholders that have been honoured in the past include Zik Zulu Okafor, Charles Inojie, Monalisa Chinda, Jackie Appiah, Patience Ozokwo, Victor Osuagwu, Fredrick Iwenjora, Werner Dorothee, Dr. Paulyn Jansen, Dr. Donald Peterson, Shaibu Hussein, Charles Nwagbara, Dr. Victor Njinmah, Double A Entertainment, Cynthia Agholor, Ramsey Nouah and Emelonye Obi.