Kunle Afolayan with some foreign delegates

By Nseobong Okon-Ekong

The 2017 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) was loaded with activities from start to finish. Perspectives from behind the camera, an interesting keynote conversation bothering on matters relating to technical film crew with emphasis on Nigeria was facilitated by BCI studios. Some of the most reliable names who work behind the scenes like Bose Oshin, Baba Agba and Queen Martins were on hand to give details on the realities of filming in Nigeria.

This was followed by a keynote conversation facilitated by Forde Pro on the role of technology and strategic partnerships in getting African content on the global scene. Panelists included Judith Audu (Just Not Married), Don Omope (Tatu, The Wedding Party) and Nadia Denton, curator of the British Council’s Film Connects programme.

The Canon Basic DSLR Filmmaking training and talent workshop for young students facilitated by Leke Alabi-Isama commenced at the Afrinolly space in Oregun, Ikeja. So did the acting and screenplay workshops headlined by Hilda Dokubo and Victor Sanchez-Aghahowa respectively.

Multiple film screenings were divided across two venues – Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, The Palms, Oniru and Silverbird Galleria in Victoria Island. Highlight of the day was the world premiere of Kenneth Gyang’s anticipated new film, ‘The Lost Café’, a collaboration between Nigeria and Norway, starring Tunde Aladese and Ann Njemanze among others.
At the Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, a series of short films, including ones by student filmmakers were screened, dealing with various aspects of the African reality. Richard Odilu’s ‘Oreva’ highlights mental illness and its tragic consequences on a family. ‘Still Water Runs Deep’ examines toxic masculinity while ‘The Mob’ (from Ghana) teases the aftermath of a suspected same sex relationship. ‘Visions’, an experimental collaborative anthology from the trio of Abba T. Makama, CJ Obasi and Michael Omonua was also screened.

The quirky Ghanaian marital relations drama ‘Keteke’ (Train) directed by Peter Sedufia and starring Lydia Forson and Adjetey Anang was screened, as well as Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Roti’, a feature length on the subject of reincarnation which the acclaimed director made in collaboration with Africa Magic.

Over at Silverbird cinemas, the line-up of shorts and student shorts screened included ‘Yemoja: Rise of the Orisha’, an interrogation of identity and importance of finding self, ‘Zawaja Gali’ (Marriage is expensive) explores traditional practices revolving around the ceremony of marriage in African societies while ‘Chicha’, from Cameroon deals with the consequences of actions taken.

Faulty’ hinges its plot on male pride while the documentary, ‘Les Sauteurs’, a collaboration between Senegal and Denmark is a timely take on immigrants and the perils they must face in search of a better life.

Asurf Oluseyi’s ‘Hakkunde’, screening in competition stars Kunle Idowu as a young Nigerian man who leaves the city of Lagos, bullied by his elder sister and finds his way to Kaduna, where he gets a new lease on life.
The Africa International Film Festival is an annual weeklong, all-encompassing world class showcase running from 29, October to 4, November 2017.

About 200 carefully curated feature lengths, shorts, documentaries and student films will be screened this year. The festival also encompasses talent development classes, industry workshops and inspiring creative discussions.
The festival is sponsored by Access Bank and supported by the Institut Francaise, British Council, Africa Magic, Air France, AfriNolly, Accelerate TV, Genesis Deluxe Cinema, and Silverbird Cinemas among others.

On its third day, AFRIFF opened with a lighting design masterclass facilitated by the Embassy of The United States. The six-hour long session which was held at the Ultima Studios, Lekki, Lagos, had interested delegates converge under the mentorship of veteran, Christian Epps.

Delegates, following the money trail, gathered at the Eko Hotels and Suites for a high-powered business clinic on co-financing and co-production opportunities with South Africa, facilitated by ‘Tango with Me’ director, Mahmood Ali-Balogun. Presentations were made by Zama Mkosi, Chief Executive Officer of South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation, as well as representatives from the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission as both countries explored avenues for smoother collaborations.

It was a British takeover at the Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, as the British Council presented the Film Connections, a project that seeks to increase partnerships between Nigeria and the UK. Nadia Denton, who curated the films selected for the showcase, had the audience spellbound as she presented useful tips for filmmakers, preparing their strategies for hitting the international festivals circuit.

Victoria Thomas facilitated an interesting clinic on packaging and pitching African stories to the global film market, a topic no doubt close to the heart of many attendees, considering the recent strides Nollywood has been making. There was also a session by academics from the Universities of Portsmouth and Greenwich on recording sound and producing for television.

The British Council Film Connections was headlined by the documentary, WHITNEY, can I be me, the latest from acclaimed British director, Nick Broomfield. A tour de force on the life of beloved singer/superstar Whitney Houston who passed away under tragic circumstances in 2012, the documentary was warmly received in its first Nigerian screening. Other films in the Film Connections selection include BAFTA winner, ‘Under the Shadow’, ‘The Hard Stop’, ‘A Moving Image’, ‘Robot & Scarecrow’, ‘Tower XYZ’ and ‘Mrs Bolanle Benson’.

Over at the Afrinolly studios in Oregun, the acting, screenwriting and Canon DSLR classes continued with mentors; Hilda Dokubo, Victor Sanchez Aghahowa and Leke Alabi-Isama.

At Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, the ultraviolent Haitian short film, ‘Kafou’, a bloody, depiction of gang life and jungle justice in inner city streets got positive responses. So did the Moses Inwang directed Omotola Jalade Ekeinde star vehicle, ‘Alter Ego’. ‘The Whale Caller’ (South Africa), the big screen film adaptation of Zakes Mda’s fantastical novel also screened.

The cautionary tale, ‘Las Gidi Vice’, about a lady sexually molested by an acquaintance and feel good drama, ‘Armstrong, hoisted Nigeria’s flag in the shorts category at the Silverbird Cinemas, Victoria Island. Mozambique’s Oscar hopeful, ‘The Train of Salt and Water’ was screened alongside the France/Mali collaboration, ‘Wulu’, both films sharing a survival-in-spite-of-dismal-circumstances theme running through them.

Mildred Okwo, Funlola Aofiyebi Raimi, Lala Akindoju, Omoye Uzamere Abba T. Makama and C.J Obasi are some of the famous faces who participated.

AFRIFF is an annual weeklong, all-encompassing world class showcase. About 200 carefully curated feature lengths, shorts, documentaries and student films were screened this year. The festival also encompasses talent development classes, industry workshops and inspiring creative discussions.