Archiving Nigerian History Of Film, Socio-Cultural Values Through Digital
Professionals and Stakeholders within the Nigerian film industry gathered recently at the Silverbird Galleria, Lagos for a pre-launch event tagged “Digitizing the History of Film in Nigeria project – with the theme “Making the link: Technology and Values in Film making.”
Seasoned Nollywood Directors and Producers present at the gathering included Teco Benson, Zeb Ejiro, Lancelot Imasuen, Tony Abulu and actress Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett.
The Association of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP) was also represented by its president Alex Eyengho along with Iyen Agbonifo, the current president of the Designers (Costumiers) Guild of Nigeria.
The event hosted by the School of Media and communication of the Pan-Atlantic University (PAU) in collaboration with HomeVida and supported by Google was an evening of expositions into the early days of film making in Nigeria with a core focus on the enabling power of Film to instill and sustain Nigerian historical and cultural values using the Internet as an enabler.
The aim of the Centenary Film Project is to digitally showcase and archive the history of film in Nigeria in an organized and accessible format. Veterans and budding filmmakers shared from their experience and perspectives on integrating social and cultural values into Nigerian films, challenges faced on quality and distributions and how Internet technologies can help to address these.
Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett spoke passionately about the need to make more films that espouse the self-worth of the human person based on the combination of an appreciation of human dignity and the celebration of Nigerian cultural values.
To corroborate this, Teco Benson highlighted thus, “The fact that film making, beyond its economic benefits to the society, is a major social responsibility that must be carried out with sanctity to help address and shape social and economic issues in society while keeping government accountable, the utmost responsibility of film making is to correct while entertaining.”
Lancelot Imasuen and Zeb Ejiro on their part indicated that, for filmmakers, the focus on films that incorporate social, cultural and national values can be undermined by the lack of funds and and the fear of financial loss due to poor sales and low interest by viewers.
According to Imasuen whose 2014 film ‘Invasion 1897’ received positive reviews, filmmakers will rather produce films with junk content simply for survival, rather than quality and historical films that are enriching but may be financially demanding.
Ejiro insisted that encouraging filmmakers to produce films, which are based on historical and cultural values, requires that the issue of funding be looked into. Tony Abulu suggested, however, that as a possible solution, filmmakers should build their confidence and assume the personal responsibility of developing cultural values in the industry without depending on external funding.
Titi Akinsanmi, Google’s Policy and Government Relations Lead, weighed in on the conversation touching on the role of technology and specifically, the Internet in promoting, preserving and passing on Nigeria’s social and cultural values.
“The Internet is a non-partisan, egalitarian, equalizing platform that is increasingly accessible to all, irrespective of economic, social or cultural status. The enabling role of the Internet as a platform helps shape positions and opinions, presenting a unique opportunity for Nigerians to be directly involved in shaping the country’s reputation online by telling her own story,” she said.
Titi further stated, “Specifically with the film industry which has a plethora of content – present day and historical – it will be to our best benefit to make the most of the Internet to address not just industry challenges but also to speak to key issues that pertain to our social and cultural values. This is why digitizing the vibrant history of film in Nigeria is very important.”
As part of the Centenary Film Project, PAU and HomeVida plans organize capacity building workshops. From scriptwriters to directors and producers; workshops on Internet technologies and how they can help address some of the nascent issues such as finance and distribution. In addition, a scriptwriters’ competition was officially announced with the aim of promoting films that inculcate the values discussed.
The primary objectives of the Centenary Film Project are to promote the development of Nigerian films that incorporate social, cultural and national values. This is based on the belief that the initiative will help foster national pride and advance the preservation of the Nigerian culture through film.
The Centenary Film Project aims to protect and safeguard this vital aspect of the national heritage utilizing technology to archive the history of film in and from Nigeria. The strategy of the project is to use a mix of mobile, web and offline tools for generating, capturing and disseminating information about Nigerian films. The web platform (http://film.centenary.ng) includes a vast and growing database of past and present Nigerian movies.
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