Overwhelming was the goodwill that trailed the inaugural edition of the Lekki International Film Festival. The festival, which concluded on Saturday night, saw such industry greats as Tade Ogidan and Lancelot Imasuen clinch the award plaques alongside three other filmmakers. The other filmmakers are the Cameroonian-born and the U.S.-based professor Jude Fokwang; Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, who is a younger sister of the late Nigerian military head of state General Murtala Mohammed and a film school student, Okhomina Joseph.
For his yet-to-be-released film, Family First, Imasuen received the Best Film Award while Ogidan’s film, Gold Statue, which has already been theatrically released, won the Best Feature Film Award. The Best Indigenous Language Film Award was won by the film Palace Coup, a Hausa language film set in the early 19th Century Kano and produced by Balaraba Ramat Mohammed. The Best Documentary Film Award went to Something New in Old Town by Jude Fokwang which is set in contemporary Cameroon. The award for the Best Short Film was won by Okhomina Joseph’s ten-minutes short feature Depression, which may have beaten some of the very intense short films on the final shortlist because of its pertinent theme.
Imasuen’s Family First tells the story about family bonding and the preservation of the family tie at a time of social insecurity, upheavals and economic turbulence, while Ogidan’s Gold Statue is a resounding social message about the aspirations of the young in society whose quest to get marvellously rich even in the face of grave danger to itself and at the risk of the desecration of sacred monuments and assets strikes at another theme of social resonance.
As for Something New in Old Town, it is set in a notorious suburb of the Cameroonian capital city, Yaounde. The suburb, known as Old Town, is the normal hub for prostitution and urban violence. It is also adopted as home by peasants and artisans because of their low pay and pecuniary existence. The documentary depicts Old Town peasants, former prostitutes and noble people of the poor and neglected district building a new life for themselves by forming voluntary societies with inbuilt self-support mechanisms, also with very strong social bonding The chairman of the jury, Segun Oyekunle was, until his appointment as the Managing Director and CEO of Abuja Film Village, a consultant in African film in Los Angeles, USA who spent nearly 30 years working in Hollywood. Other jury members are Augusta Okon, Tajudeen Agboola and Jahman Anikulapo.
Augusta Okon is a lawyer who has devoted her career wholly to the film industry, serving for some while in senior management at Filmhouse Cinemas. Taju Agboola is a seasoned production and post-production expert and former editor of the African Videomaker magazine. Jahman Anikulapo is a former editor of The Guardian Newspaper on Sunday and a seasoned arts editor.
The winners emerged from a keen contest involving a shortlist of 15 films; two films that nearly breasted the last tape were produced by London-based cinematographers.
The festival, which ran for some four days, was graced by eminent persons, some featuring as speakers at the festival forum that ran on the second and third days of the festival. There was a cocktail event on day one with insightful sharings that involved festival bigwigs like Kene Mkparu the managing director at Komworld and founder of the Filmhouse Cinemas chain, Lola Onigbogi founder of the Africa Movie Channel, Ijeoma Ekeugo of Zenith Bank headquarters, Tosin Bakare president of Alliance Francaise Lagos and daughter of deceased Lagos industrialist Molade Okoya-Thomas, Tokunboh Odebunmi founder of Obalende Suya restaurant chain, Ifeoma Anthony of Guinness, Deji Irawo CEO of the X2D Channel and such Nollywood stars that include Kenneth Okoli, Wole Ojo and Mercy Iyamu. Festival forum/seminar participants include Kingsley Uranta of Channels Television, Duro Oni a former Director-General of the Centre for Black and African Civilization, CBAAC and Deputy Vice-Chancellor University of Lagos and Jonathan Haynes, a professor from New York and the leading authority in African film, Tony Adah a professor at the University of Minnesota, USA, among others.
––Adepuji writes from Lagos