With ESIFF 2023, Obaseki Paves the Way for Edo’s Cinematic Ascent

Iyke Bede

Benin City, renowned globally for its rich historical and cultural heritage, will once again be the attention of the world as it hosts the second edition of the Edo State International Film Festival (ESIFF) in celebration of cinema, arts and culture.

The upcoming edition of ESIFF aims to unite global filmmakers, artists, investors, distributors, and enthusiasts to celebrate cinema and boost the state’s revenue. From November 30 to December 2, 2023, the event will host various programs, workshops, and classes, focusing on enhancing the skills of over 5,000 delegates in line with industry trends. The festival also received over 3,000 movie entries from 126 countries and will screen over 500 for the festival.   At a recently held Industry Mixer event at Eko Hotel and Suites, Governor Godwin Obaseki highlighted Edo State’s commitment to supporting the film festival, showcasing its cultural richness globally. He praised ESIFF for uniting cultures, fostering creativity, and attracting talents.

The motion picture and music recording sectors of the creative economy have already contributed approximately N154 billion to the country’s GDP this year. While acknowledging the sectors’ potential, Obaseki stressed plans for a film village to retain local talent and boost employment.

“Films are so big and global, and the African share is growing. Nigeria accounts for a substantial portion of that share, we are the dominant market on the continent. With what we are going through and the push to diversify the economy, this is one quick way we nurture it. We did one film festival last year and we are doing another this year, and then next year. By the time we get to our fifth year, everybody will know that this has come to stay. There is a marketplace for this that now serves as a destination for a lot of younger people to be entrepreneurs.”

To encourage filmmakers who will be showcasing their film projects at the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub and Sound Stage, Edo State, the governor revealed that exceptional works in 19 categories, including Best Non-English Film and Best Short Film, will be recognized and share a prize pool of $30,000. While he noted that Lagos is currently the entertainment capital of Nigeria, he reiterated that his state has the potential to contribute a significant quota as well, outlining plans to redesign the city centre and establish museums for returned artefacts to boost tourism.

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