M.P. Ajaere: Proudly presenting Nollywood, African cinema to the world

Mykel

For several years, filmmakers, particularly those in Anglophone Africa, have clamoured for a platform to promote ventures by Africans in the industry and that would support stakeholders and organisations that make films.

They have lamented lack of established structures to help the African filmmaker from a Pan-African perspective.

Although attempts by filmmakers in Nigeria and other parts of Africa to build a sustainable and prosperous film industry, these have failed due to dearth of structures that would make access to funding possible and facilitate favourable policies for practitioners across the continent.

Where these structures exist, they are mainly adhoc in nature and mostly not conceived as resource structures to assist the film industries in the continent grow.

But there seems to be a resolve by the practitioners themselves to firmly institute a platform to make it increasingly possible for them to continue to practice on the path of a market-driven filmmaking industry.

That resolve to build a platform that would contribute to the development of an African-focused filmmaking industry defined and guided by diverse African creative and cultural sentiments is driven wholly, although with support of other filmmakers, by Nigerian-born filmmaker. Mykel Parish Ajaere, popular as Mykel Parish.

A Pan Africanist with vast knowledge of business across Africa, Mykel, who has years of experience as an entrepreneur in strategies, film development and charities, leads the now very renowned and most influential community of African cinema stakeholders, called Pan-African Film Consortium (AFC).

Formally established in 2015, AFC’s mission, which now boast of over 3,000 members across the world, according to Mykel, is to promote and build a sustainable and prosperous film industry for Africa back-dropped 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, the whole idea about having a platform for filmmakers working in and out of the continent and the Diaspora started on social media- on the Whatsapp application.

“I created a group on Whatsapp and added film industry practitioners, including journalists, entrepreneurs, film financing experts, festival owners, programmers and administrators and sold the idea to them, which they bought, 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.

“As we speak, we have over 3,000 members who are signed up to AFC as members.”

Supported by an advisory board, chaired by the veteran Egyptian film personality, Sohier Kadar, Ajaere, who has been in the film business for over 18 years producing short films, features and documentaries, has proven, with some of the activities that he has led the AFC to host, that he is on a mission to strengthen the African creative sectors through Pan-African Film Consortium’s expressed mandate on culture promotion through film, film education, exhibition, information and communication for individuals in the industry globally, with special focus on Africans.

Ajaere has also proven that he is on a mission to lead the AFC to encourage government and private sectors to take concrete measures towards empowering professionals in the industry through training, funding and mentorship programmes.

Speaking generally on the mission of the AFC, Ajaere said: “AFC’s mission is shaped by knowledge of the art of cinema for Africa. The body aims not only to support works of acclaimed practitioners, but also to propagate values of creativity and innovation through new ideas, originality in filmmaking and lifelong learning of the art of cinema.

“It is a convergence of education, skills and arena to expose the talented, budding and seasoned Africans in the business of film.”

Outside, the AFC, Ajaere is also engaged in training, film facility set up and promotion of the Nigerian and African film industry.

His desire to present the vibrant Nigerian motion picture to the world motivated his establishment of a touring film festival for the best of Nollywood content, which he christened ‘Nollywood Travel Film Festival.’

So far, the festival has been held in Germany, Spain, United States (US) and Canada, and Ajaere said the mission is to “celebrate the best of Nigerian cinema.”

He also said: “We need to take our best foot out for people to see and we have designed the festival to be hosted in major cities around the world. I must say that the feedback has been great. A lot of people define Nollywood by some of the trash they see online.

“But with the travel festival, we have been able to take quality content for them to see the stuff that Nollywood is made off, and we will not relent.”

Hailed as the unofficial ‘Nigerian movie Ambassador to the world,’ Ajaere recently added publishing to his career kit, with the publication of a glossy magazine on Nollywood, Everything Nollywood.

Published by Parish Africa Limited, the magazine was formally presented on Monday at the African Hub of the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany.

“Again, it is all about celebrating Nollywood and showcasing our unusual values as an industry. Nothing can be too much to do to promote this industry.

“It is sad that the government agencies responsible for regulating and developing the industry are not doing much or are not doing anything at all. May be they will be propelled to wake up with little efforts, like the travel festival this magazine, which will be published quarterly and targeted to be distributed at major festivals around the world.”

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