Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Shaibu Husseini’

The Federal Government attracted a lot of attention when it announced the creation of a $200 million “intervention” fund for creative industries two years ago. The excitement gave way to discontent when artists, musicians and filmmakers discovered the fund would go to NEXIM Bank to back loans – not grants – for the industry. Furthermore, in  something of a catch 22 scenario, the fund sought to encourage formalization in the creative industries by setting the criteria for securing loans so high that the only producers to benefit were those who already operate along ideal “formal” guidelines. See Bic Leu’s post on the matter from 2011.

At the beginning of 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan made good on a campaign promise to Nollywood and announced his plan for a N3 billion fund earmarked for the film industry. This money will be disbursed as grants to particular sectors of the industry with the aim of reshaping and boosting film production and distribution. The introduction of such a massive sum of money in the form of grants has stirred producers across Nollywood, though most still feel left in the dark with regards to how exactly the special fund will be administered.

Yesterday, as Shaibu Husseini reports in The Guardian newspaper, the Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Minister of Tourism Edem Duke signaled the release of N300 million from the president’s fund, now called Project Act Nollywood. The funds will target capacity building efforts, the ministers say. Provisions have been made for every trade involved in bringing a film to life from producing, directing, and acting, to sound engineering, lighting, and scriptwriting.

The industry should welcome whatever investment the Federal Government is willing to make, as this is the certainly the largest amount the FG has released to the industry without first channelling them through the NFC, NFVCB or other state-run institutions. I am skeptical of the effectiveness of capacity building as a means of reshaping the industry. To the contrary, it seems possible to retrench some of the uneven professional capacity that we find in Nollywood. Sound engineers, lighting gaffers, production designers and scriptwriters should be the focus of training efforts, yet will training programs produce better screenplays if scriptwriters continue to be the least respected and worst paid artists in the industry? Where in Nigeria will a sound engineer go to improve his professional skills?

The released funds, ” will give grants to existing local private institutes that offer training courses, programmes and technical certification in the movie industry.” But most training centers today focus on acting, producing, and cinematography, and are intended to recruit and introduce new professionals into the industry. Will a producer with thirty films to his or her name go back to hone their skills at one of these schools, and if so, will they learn new techniques unlike those they acquired by experience that will translate to what we see on the screen? Training centers are, after all, often run by veteran actors and producers. What would be the effect of revamping the programs offered at the NFI, I wonder, to shift the focus of its curriculum away from an older cinematic style and toward the unique style of production practiced in Nollywood?

We should all be asking, as the FG continues to reveal details about how it is administering the Project Act Nollywood funds, how does this solve matters of distribution and financing in a way that makes the industry better able to stand on its own after the fund is exhausted.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Banner welcoming AMAA guests to the Bayelsa Tourism Development and Publicity Bureau. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

Chairman of AMAA Selection Committee Shaibu Husseini with the AMAA Jury at the March 26 press briefing at the Bayelsa State Tourism Development & Publicity Bureau. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

On March 26-27th, I was fortunate to be invited to the 7th annual African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) hosted in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. The event is promoted by AMAA CEO Peace Anyiam-Osigwe as the “first and only award system for African cinema“. According to Chairman of the AMAA Selection Committee Shaibu Husseini, 320 films (consisting of 180 features and 140 shorts) were submitted all over the world for consideration in 25 categories. These submissions were narrowed down to the 30 nominated works, which Shaibu felt were “truly representative of African cinema in 2010“.

With Best Diaspora Short nominee Temi Ojo and Carmen McCain at the Bayelsa State Tourism Development & Publicity Bureau. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

With Best Diaspora Short Film nominee Sowande Tichawonna and Best Diaspora Feature winner Laquita Cleare at the Bayelsa State Tourism Development & Publicity Bureau. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

Best Diaspora Feature double-nominee Wayne Saunders getting interviewed at the Bayelsa State Tourism Development & Publicity Bureau. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

With Best Short Film nominee Mak Kusare at the Bayelsa State Tourism Development & Publicity Bureau. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

Along with Hausa cultural advocate Carmen McCain, I was part of the 500 guests that were flown in from three different continents for the ceremony, which included 154 nominees and 45 members of the press. As the event’s major sponsor, the Bayelsa State Government hosted many of the pre-ceremony activities–including the press briefing and meals for invited guests–at the Bayelsa State Tourism Development & Publicity Bureau.

[Update April 3] To read Carmen McCain‘s detailed account of the awards in her Weekly Trust column, please click here.

Best Young Actor winner Edward Kagutuzi and 'Inale' actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

With actor Razaaq Adoti, Carmen McCain, and 'Inale' actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim pre-ceremony. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

With Carmen McCain, Best Short Film nominee Zipporah Nyaruri, Best Diaspora Short nominee Temi Ojo, and Best Diaspora Feature winner Laquita Cleare on the AMAA red carpet. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

With Chairman of the AMAA Selection Committee Shaibu Husseini on the AMAA red carpet. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

AMAA CEO Peace Anyiam-Osigwe on the red carpet. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

Majid Michel on the AMAA red carpet. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

Carmen McCain and Kunle Afolayan. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

AMAA co-hosts Jim Iyke and Nse Ikpe-Etim (in Wanger Ayu) on-stage at the Gloryland Cultural Centre. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

At the March 27 ceremony at Gloryland Cultural Centre, the Congolese gangster movie, Viva Riva!, swept the awards by winning 6 statuettes, including Best Film, Best Actress In Supporting Role (Marlene Longage), Best Actor In Supporting Role (Hoji Fortuna), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Director (Djo Tunda Wa Munga). The Nigerian productions that received awards were Aramotu (Best Costume Design and Best Nigerian Film), Inale (Best Soundtrack), and Mirror Boy (Best Young Actor). Click here for the complete list of nominees and winners.

The event also featured performances from Wande Coal and Dr. Sid.

Best Diaspora Feature winner Laquita Cleare with Olu Jacobs post-ceremony. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

After the six-hour long ceremony culminated at 2AM, Bayelsa State Governor Chief Timipre Sylva and his wife, Mrs. Alanyingi Sylva, hosted invited guests at an opulent after-party at the Governor’s Mansion.

AMAA After-party at the Governor's Mansion. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

Our table at the AMAA After-party boasted 2 awards. Photo © 2011 Carmen McCain

 

 

Read Full Post »

I just found out that my article was published in The Guardian today without the original first paragraph or the last three paragraphs, making this a very different piece than I had intended. I have pasted the original article below in its full glory, or you can read the published version here.

 

Keith Shiri, Tunde Kelani, and Kunle Afolayan at FESPACO 2011. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

 

FESPACO 2011: African cinema through Nollywood’s lens

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 00:00 By Bic Leu

From February 26 to March 5, 195 films were shown at the 22nd edition of the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou, or FESPACO), scattered across cinema halls and outdoor theaters in Burkina Faso’s capital city.

The event’s official newsletter declared an “opening under the sign of Panafricanism with a growing diversity of film productions from Africa and the Diaspora.” Yet despite this claim of unity, the Festival raised many debates regarding the definition of cinema and revealed divisions among countries with different colonial histories and the impact of those histories on the development of respective film industries. For example, official regulations excluded films not shot in 35 mm format from the main competition. Films shot in digital format were relegated to the TV & Video category, which included Nollywood’s only representatives – Mak Kusare’s Champions of our time (2010) and Kunle Afolayan’s The Figurine (2009). Ultimately, the lack of 35 mm projectors in most viewing centers rendered this rule moot, so films were screened in DVD format for Festival-goers.

The only movie by a Nigerian filmmaker to compete in the Feature Film category, Andrew Dosunmu’s Restless city (2010), was not shown to audiences. Several sources reported that the filmmaker was unexpectedly unable to attend and screen his film due to organizational mishap on the part of Festival managers. While this slight was unintentional, the incident did not help to ameliorate the rift between Nigerian filmmakers and their Francophone hosts. Nigeria’s already poor representation at FESPACO is disproportionate to the number of films that the country releases per year. (The National Film and Video Censors Board recorded 1,612 local movies submitted for classification in 2010).

Indeed, “African cinema” has been historically synonymous with Francophone African films, according to film curator and Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) jury member Keith Shiri. The primary source of funding for these movies is the French government, which allots an average budget of €500,000 to €2 million per film to its former colonies, thus allowing filmmakers to purchase and process pricey celluloid stock abroad at the cost of $400 to $500 per minute of film. These products are then distributed globally at film festivals and are seldom watched by their native audiences. Recent international attention has been directed at the robust volume of independently financed and lower budget productions from Nigeria and other Anglophone African countries.  These films are shot on much cheaper digital formats and are enthusiastically consumed by Africans, thus challenging the traditional concept of “African cinema”.

Director Tunde Kelani confronted FESPACO’s definition of film at the African Film, Video, and the Social Impact of New Technologies workshop organized during the Festival by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) on February 27 and 28. While he is listed as a “video-maker” in the workshop program, Kelani has worked with a variety of audiovisual media over his 30-year career: super 8; super 16; 8 mm; 16 mm; 35 mm; all video formats; and now digital format. He emphasized the false contradictions between cinema and video, stating that new technology allows digital cameras to use film lenses and for some digital formats to have higher resolutions than 35 mm film. Kelani forecasted that celluloid production will disappear in the near future due to cheaper digital alternatives to shooting high-resolution film, such as the RED ONE camera.

Kelani is not alone.  Chairman of the AMAA Selection Committee Shaibu Husseini privately conceded the need for FESPACO to adapt to technological changes: “They need to modify the rules to accommodate recent developments in technology. There shouldn’t be rules on making films in celluloid.”

Yet at the CODESRIA workshop, Burkinabe director Idrissa Ouedraogo countered Kelani and Husseini’s position by maintaining that a hierarchy exists between celluloid and video because “the beauty of the image is in the celluloid” and that video is unable to capture a wide range of contrast. He continued by asserting that movies made in Nigeria are more commerce than art, referring to Nollywood’s rapid production schedule as “business, not cinema”.

Director Kunle Afolayan tried to find common ground among these viewpoints at a Centre Culturel Français Ouagadougou screening of The Figurine on March 1. He emphasized his film’s self-sufficient financing and production structure as an advantage: “The film is self-funded and made entirely by Nigerians.” But he also stressed that collaboration between Anglophone and Francophone filmmakers is the key to take African cinema to the next level: “The camera knows no language…The sky is the limit if we come together as Africans.”

Afolayan’s appeal for intracontinental cooperation may be coming true: three films nominated for the Nigerian-produced AMAA also competed at FESPACO: A small town called Descent (South Africa, 2010), Zebu and the photo fish (Kenya, 2010), and Dina (Mozambique, 2010). In addition, FESPACO awarded Champions of our time the second prize in the TV & Video category, fueling expectations that more Nigerian directors will be recognized in future editions.

In the end, FESPACO 2011 was defined by a missed opportunity to unite filmmakers across the continent regardless of production format, budget, or colonial histories. Shiri observes an excitement surrounding the “new wave of directors from Nigeria who understand the importance of aesthetics, sound, pacing, and the strength of the story.”  As Nigerian and other Anglophone cinema cultures gain global prominence, FESPACO’s continued alienation of them over politics of production will be detrimental to the Festival’s standing as the preeminent place on the continent to view and discuss African cinema.

Bic Leu is a US Fulbright Fellow researching the social impact of Nollywood at the University of Lagos. She regularly records her observations at www.findingnollywood.com. The views and opinions expressed here are her own and do not reflect those of the Fulbright program or the US Department of State.

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: