At Joburg Film Festival, Odugbemi Challenges Filmmakers to Tell Authentic African Stories

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Renowned documentary filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi has challenged filmmakers in the continent to tell stories that reflect the African identity.

The cinematographer and screenwriter was among the jury who participated in the recent Johannesburg Film Festival. Odugbemi joined seasoned film experts like South African actress Florence Masebe, Canadian academic and writer, Nataleah Hunter-Young as well as NCIS: New Orleans star actress, Carol Pounder and the prolific South African writer, painter and novelist, Zakes Mda to evaluate films competing for the festival’s awards.

“It was a great experience to be part of the jury of the Johannesburg Film Festival. The films submitted are strong indication that filmmakers across the continent are beginning to tell stories that not only reflect our identity but are attracting global appeal. There is no better time indeed for Africans to tell their stories as the world is eager to hear and learn about our diverse cultures. Filmmakers therefore need to tell authentic stories that will capture audience worldwide,” said Odugbemi.

It is not the first time the filmmaker is serving as a jury in film festivals in South Africa. He has been actively involved in the film industry for over two decades. Of the five-man panel involved in the vetting process, Odugbemi is the only voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In its third year, the festival which seeks to position the burgeoning African cinema as a reckoning force in the global scene screened 60 films from 16 countries, out of which 10 films were critically plumbed in cinematic areas such as relevance, storyline, depth, cinematography and technical application.

The six-day event which kicked off on November 19 to November 24, 2019 also witnessed the screening of ‘Dream Chaser’ a film by one of the past students of the MultiChoice Talent Factory (West Africa) where Odugbemi serves as the Academy Director. The film was greatly lauded by the audience who filled the hall of theTheatre on Mandela Square, Sandton.

Hollywood star Idris Elba’s director debut film ‘Yardie’, and Sydney Pollack’s 2018 concert film ‘Amazing Grace’ based on the 1972 live album of the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin were some of the international films shown at the festival as well as South African film ‘Letters of Hope’.

MultiChoice Group which sponsored the festival had a media showcase on November 21 where they announced a slew of programmes coming on its PayTV and OTT platforms next year. It also disclosed TV drama series such as Odugbemi’s new thriller ‘Brethren’ that are enjoying great views presently. Their presence at the festival marked the launch of the ‘MultiChoice Africa Most-Loved Storytellers Awards’, which recognised and rewarded most outstanding storytellers in the continent.

Some of the winning films this year include the UK film ‘Rocks’ which won the Best Film award while South African film ‘Flatland’ took home the ‘Best African Film’ award.