Nollywood to Take Centre Stage at Essence Festival 2024

Iyke Bede

For a third consecutive year, media entrepreneur Toyosi Etim-Effiong is set to showcase the Nigerian film industry at the Essence Festival of Culture, a yearly celebration of black creativity through film, fashion, arts, and culture. This year’s event takes place in New Orleans, USA, from July 5 to July 7 at Caesars Superdome.

Etim-Effiong’s journey to the Essence Film Festival, a segment of the broader Essence Festival of Culture, started in 2022 after gaining slots to screen a handful of Nigerian cinematic works that include the Walter Taylaur-directed ‘Jolly Roger,’ and ‘Collision Course’ directed by Bolanle Auten-Peters. The subsequent year, she earned a full day of exhibition tagged ‘Nigerian Day,’ where she paraded a handful of Nollywood’s bests like Richard Mofe Damijo and Stella Damasus, as well as opening doors for collaboration between creatives on both sides of the aisle.

“The Essence Film Festival is a gathering of black excellence,” Etim-Effiong reiterated, emphasising why Nollywood should be fully represented on this global platform. “When they talked about their film festival, I recalled Nollywood is one of the largest film industries in the world. Nollywood is Black. So if we say we are catering to Black filmmakers and actors, then we should be there as well.”  

She continued: “I don’t think Nollywood, as it is, can take care of its players right now. We need collaborations. We see what has happened to afrobeats with collaborations, and we want the same for our actors. I’m tired of our actors not being able to take care of themselves and seeking aid when they fall sick or have issues with rent.”

In a dynamic collaboration with That Good Media (TGM), where Etim-Effiong serves as founder and CEO, Nollywood’s third appearance at the festival is poised to generate more exposure for the industry. The event will also gather esteemed Nollywood celebrities and influential figures from Hollywood, facilitating a rich exchange of ideas and experiences.

Through the panel session titled ‘Building Bridges: Collaborating with Nollywood for Global Success,’ which aims to underline the importance of international partnerships in elevating Nollywood on the world stage, panellists will discuss strategic alliances and the role of storytelling in fostering cultural exchanges and deepening global understanding.

Expressing delight at Nollywood’s participation this year, Director, Essence Film Festival, Lamonia Brown said:  “We are thrilled to host Nollywood’s vibrant showcase, which is a testament to the rich cultural heritage and storytelling prowess that Nigerian cinema brings to our global audience.”

As Nollywood gears up for the festival, Etim-Effiong’s efforts highlight her pivotal role in expanding Africa’s entertainment landscape and bridging cultural divides.

“Our participation at Essence Film Festival not only showcases the unique narratives and talents of Nollywood but also reinforces our commitment to creating global dialogues through film,” Etim-Effiong concluded.

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