Femi Odugbemi Bemoans the Dearth of Children Programming

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Vanessa Obioha

Revered filmmaker and Academic Director (West Africa) of the MultiChoice Talent Factory, Femi Odugbemi has bemoaned the seemingly neglect of children programming in the country today.

He expressed his concerns during his keynote address at the 2019 edition of the Lagos International Animation Festival held at Freedom Park recently.

With the theme ‘Creating the Future’, Odugbemi stated that it was astonishing that in a country like Nigeria with such a high population, children’s programming has been so totally neglected by our entertainment industry. Children’s programming is huge across the world of content everywhere else apart from Africa.

He warned that the arrival of Disney in the guise of Disney+ would eventually lead to the westerners taking bin charge of our stories.

“It is an initiative that shows that they value the market potential, and if they, the reigning kings of the box office, consider the market viable enough to invest in, then we would be shortchanging ourselves not owning it with storytelling that shapes how and on what terms our children view the world.”

To the filmmaker, children’s programming goes beyond entertainment.

“It is actually a battlefield for the mind and soul of our children. Content is their first window into the world and it shapes how they view their heritage, their nationality, their sense of a global order and their history. Animation offers a dynamic digital language to help us connect our children to heroes of their own cultures, their ancestors and history, all embedded into vibrant shapes and dynamic movements”.

He concluded by encouraging filmmakers to go the extra mile using animation which “enables your content scale up in spectacle, while keeping your costs manageable. Finally we can have car chases, as well as our very own superhero stories.

“It would require innovation, creativity, resourcefulness, and a lot of sacrifice, but in the end, when it’s all said and done, we would finally be tapping into a new market that’s been waiting for us for decades.

“The audience is ready, willing and demanding experiences beyond the ordinary. Spectacle is the language of entertainment in the immediate future. Animation, Computer Generated Imaging CGI, Artificial Intelligence, 3Dimensionality and many more inventions integrating live-action are the currency to creating the future of storytelling.

“You are the new army and creative leaders shaping our response. Your vision and your stories are what Nollywood is waiting for to confront our yawning gap in innovation and to take our industry into a bright new future.”

The Lagos International Animation Festival is the brainchild of Muyiwa Kayode and has been running for two years. It is an annual event which provides a platform for animators to interact with other stakeholders for optimum value creation and rapid growth of the animation film industry.

For its third edition, the festival received 461 entries from 71 countries. However, only 39 are screened at the festival. The festival recognises winners in four categories: Best 2D Animation, Best 3D Animation, Best Animation Commercial and Best Visual Effects.