Lagos @ 50: Lagos Walks the Talk at Cannes Film Festival

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By Azuka Ogujiuba

The Cannes Film Festival is the biggest film event in the world. This year was its 70th anniversary, it is the same time Lagos State is celebrating 50 years. So, the Lagos State government sponsored a pavilion at the international film village of the festival, where movie practitioners and entertainment writers converged daily to discuss the way forward for Nigerian movie industry. Also, movie makers all over the world visited the Lagos pavilion to exchange ideas, network and to know more about Lagos state, tourism and were movie industry in Nigeria. It was at the Cannes film festival that the ‘Cinema in Lagos’, and the Lagos state quarterly magazine were unveiled. These are some of the faces of the people at the Lagos state pavilion in Cannes: Kunle Afolayan, Mayor Akinpelu, Dele Balogun, Shaibu Hussein, Funke Osai Brown, OC Ukeje, Lala Akindoju, Kene and Moses of Film House and Film One, Samson Adebayo and others. 

Steve Ayorinde, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, explained to fairground the reasons Lagos state was at the Cannes Film Festival and how the state would do everything to support Nigerian movie makers to capture the international movie market.

Lagos state’s motive for sponsoring a pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival this year…

“Our aim for taking a pavilion in Cannes this year is to have a communications outpost at the world’s biggest film festival and one of the biggest media-driven events which is celebrating its 70th in the same month that Lagos is celebrating its 50th anniversary. We believe the brand awareness impact will be huge for Lagos as a state and for every motion picture professional operating from the state,” he said.

Tell us about the magazine that was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival 

We actually unveiled ‘Cinema in Lagos’ an annual magazine dedicated to the promotion of motion picture industry and marketing of Lagos as film location destination and cinema investment hub. It’s called Cinema in Lagos because it is basically promoting the business of cinema in Lagos State and showing how investors can tap into that profitable venture. Major film festivals are a veritable ground to promote such publications and we are glad that it was very well received in Cannes.  It will be well circulated locally too and it will be a yearly publication.

 

How did Lagos State support the Nigeria movie industry, especially movie makers?

Lagos State has always recognised the important role that the film industry plays and has always supported this industry that has done very well as a private sector-driven industry. Our support in recent times has cut across production, like 93 Days and The CEO; exposure at international film festivals like in Toronto last year where Lagos was celebrated as the city in focus and also at institutional level like the support we are giving to the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) as the host city this year. We are also encouraging productive engagement with the industry and the various guilds through the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board. And of course 10 filmmakers were invited to be part of the Lagos@50 celebration on Friday May 5 to screen their films, particularly in areas where such films had never been screened. So, it was great having Epe audiences enjoy 93 Days and Maami; having Badagry audiences enjoy Mo Abudu’s The Wedding Party and having the award-winning ‘76 by Izu Ojukwu screen to hundreds of movie goers in Ikorodu.

 

Governor Ambode’s vision for entertainment industry

As you know Gov. Ambode is now being described as art-loving governor.  The arts and entertainment sectors have never had it so good under any governor. You can trace his vision to the campaign promise the governor made through Project T.H.E.S.E – that is using Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sports to achieve Excellence for Lagos State. 

For the first time a Ministry for Tourism, Arts and Culture was created to drive this vision. You have seen how the old Lagos countdown which is to be a one-day, one-venue fanfare was decentralised and spread across all the five divisions of the state so that the crossover night can be enjoyed at Agege, Ikorodu, Badagry and Epe the same way that Bar Beach has been enjoying it. And instead of one day, it was extended to five days in 2015 and eight days in 2016, attracting unprecedented corporate sponsorship. You have also, seen that we started this January an Art expo and how several artists have been commissioned to produce art installations all across the state. All of such works have been springing up all across the state, giving our dear state a vibrant artistic outlook.  More importantly, we are investing in infrastructural developments that will benefit thespians and motion picture professionals. We are constructing six 400-seat theatre-cinemas across all the five divisions of the state. They will all be ready this year. Think of the ripple effect on the economy of places like Epe, Ikorodu, Badagry and Alimoso. Think of youth engagement and job creation that all these will bring to the state.