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New NFC boss rejigs Zuma Film Festival

By Florence Utor 09 July 2017   |   2:56 am

Maduekwe (right) displaying the festival logo while Ekwuazi looks on

The desire of Managing Director of Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, to rev up revenue and create jobs, as well as recognise efforts of film practitioners might soon be realised with the staging of the biggest and rebranded film festival in Nigeria, ZUMA Film Festival (ZUFF), which was rested in 2014.

Billed to hold from December 1 to 5, it will have Nigerians at home and in the diaspora in attendance. Filmmakers have been advised to send in entries, which opened on July 3 and will close on September 31, 2017.
The last and seventh edition of the festival was held in 2014, and had as theme ‘Nationalism and Patriotism.’ The focus was to draw global attention, with a view to attract investment, with the aim of harnessing and shoring up Nigeria’s place in the world of motion picture production. The edition also coincided with Nigeria’s centenary celebration, using film as a medium and connecting cord that unifies Nigeria.

This year’s edition has as theme ‘Feast on Films.’ It is a re-launch edition as one of the key intervention programmes for the celebration of motion picture.In his address at a recent media briefing, Maduekwe said, “In this edition of the festival, we are mounting a re-branded ZUMA Film Festival, designed to explore the economic and audio-visual potentials of Africa’s largest motion picture industry. Its thrust is to give impetus to its steady growth pattern and increasing profile as well as align it to the vast and expansive opportunities available in the global audio-visual market.
“The festival has and will continue to serve as a platform for Nigerian film practitioners to network with their counterparts from other parts of the world and thus stimulate co-production and financing opportunities. The recognition and reward of cinematic excellence, promotion of audio-visual services, cultural products and the huge export potentials of Nigerian films, as well as heralding Nigeria’s tourism potentials as a film destination hub remain the overriding essence of ZUMA Film Festival.”
Former Managing Director of NFC, film scholar and critic, Prof. Hyginus Ekwuazi, has been selected to head the festival jury. While responding to why government is holding a film festival, rather than support existing ones, Ekwuazi said, “Many people were trouping to South Africa that time because Sitengi was the festival in Africa then, but we thought that if we did not have a comparable festival in Nigeria, then Sitengi will always lord it over us, and that was precisely the time we decide to organised the national film festival, which took place in Lagos. So, there is need for a government-sponsored festival.

“I remember we did an audit at one time and we discovered that north-east America, which is the commercial centre of America alone, has 204 film festivals every year and still counting. What happens when a film industry is expanding is, you begin to expand in the festivals. Some are organised by groups, government, filmmaker or studios and you begin to have what we call dedicated festivals. Some may just be for short films, feature films and Nigeria is beginning to experience that. When it comes to festivals, the thing is, let a thousand flowers bloom. They can never be enough because each festival has something new to add.”

Ekwuazi also advised everyone who would get a nomination to see themselves as winners because, according to him, the nomination is where the rigorousness is, as the final prize has to do with politics. 
Other committees have also been set in the various geo-political zones of the country. Zonal coordinators were appointed as follows: South West – Mr. Tunde Kelani; South East – Mrs. Patience Ozokwo; North West – Alhaji Abdullahi Maikano; North Central – Mr. Edward Fom; South South, Mr. Richard Mofe Damijo, and North East, Mallam Al -Amin Ciroma.

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