Agenda for growing filmmaking in Nigeria
The Plateau International Film Festival, which started six years ago in Jos, is fast becoming a major tourism event. Itsdirector, Mrs Debrah Jalmet-Ododo, speaks with Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME on the event.
Looking back, what are the challenges organising the annual film festival?
Well, as usual every event and indeed each edition of the festival has its challenges. But then, these challenges have always opened new vistas for us to succeed. We have and are still dealing with issues of funding for the festival. We use this opportunity to thank our strategic partners and those who have supported us in several ways, too numerous to mention, for believing in what we have set out to achieve with this festival, which is in its sixth edition. We are very hopeful that in the coming years, film makers especially in and around Plateau State will beat their chest and there will possibly be no other film platform to promote creativity, employment and entertainment other than the Plateau International Film Festival (PIFF).
Despite these challenges you kept faith with the festival, what is the staying power?.
Yes, we have because film enthusiasts in and around Plateau State, Nigeria and the world over have keyed into what we are doing here. From the level of domestic and foreign participation in past editions, it is evidently clear that we have the endorsement and support of many. The level of foreign and domestic film entries have continued to grow with each edition of the festival. Our target is to develop principally young Nigerian youths who are either in the film making business or want to take to filmmaking as a career or profession. Consequently, we have leveraged on the existence of the National Film Institute (NFI), sited in Jos and hopefully we intend to access some of our participants to enroll at the NFI for further training in filmmaking. Above all, we are determined to sustain the film festival despite the daunting challenges, just as we will count on the goodwill of our partners, hotel and hospitality providers, transportation companies and especially, the Plateau State Government and the Nigerian Film Corporation(NFC) in the hosting of this year’s, and future editions of the film festival.
Specifically, what is the driving force or motivation that keeps you on?
Participation has been the greatest force behind the successes of the festival. This includes film entries in the various categories of awards from domestic and foreign filmmakers, professional and upcoming. Apart from our determination, our team of resourceful management, resource persons and faculty, including diligent volunteers, have been instrumental to the sustenance of the festival. We have, and are receiving commendations from around the world. These encourage us to forge ahead. Also, we are receiving notifications and advanced bookings for participation. And we are equally assessing and expanding the scope and content of the festival to meet modern day realities in contemporary film festival and markets. All of these and many more have made us to continue to drive the festival.
What is the unique element of the festival that separates it from others?
The uniqueness of the festival is hinged on the fact that we have targeted young and upcoming filmmakers, and we are succeeding. Above all, I think we have done more than even what we set to do in each of the festival editions. The participation levels of these categories of attendees have kept the festival going. And the support level is equally a factor. We shall continue to work on our strengths and develop strategies to deal with our challenges.
Beyond entertainment, what socio-economic issues is the festival promoting?
Beyond entertainment, our focus has been to empower attendees with the necessary skills and up-to-date information on filmmaking as a business venture. Consequently, we have always chosen themes in each edition and aligned with the nation’s aspirations. In other words, we try to ensure that in all we do, the people and the nation Nigeria come first. For instance in 2011, the festival theme was ‘Art and Peace’, in recognition of film as a tool for peaceful co-existence. In 2013, it was ‘Building Relationship through Film’, in 2014 ‘Film, Tourism and Culture as a tool for education and entertainment and in 2015, ‘Film for the development of the society.
What’s your dream for the festival?
Our dream is to grow the festival into that which will make Jos, the Plateau State capital, the hub of filmmaking and entertainment. By this, the tourism potentials of the state will be enhanced. Employment will the generated and wealth created through the various trades associated with filmmaking, film festivals and market.
When are you returning to the stage and screen as a specialist in cinematography?
Even with the enormous task of mounting the festival each year, I am working on some productions and I intend to fully engage in active stage and screen appearance as well. In fact, preparation for the next edition of the festival begins from the closing ceremony of the out gone edition. Despite these, I do at times provide advisory roles and supervise some film projects, including the holding of technical sessions and briefs with international faculties on film matters.
This year’s festival is around the corner what is the preparation level?
Yeah, this year’s edition has since started. Call for entry has since opened, and as usual, filmmakers are responding. We are equally stepping up sponsorship; partnership and support drive to enable us achieve maximum success. We have also expanded the categories to now include, drama, animation, commercial/advertorial and music video. We obviously expect large turnout of participants. As usual, barring any circumstances we a hoping to live up to expectation and host a successful 2016 edition of PIFF.
NTDC signs MoU with Cote D’Ivoire Tourisme
By Ozolua Uhakheme
Assistant Editor (Arts)
Domestic tourism across the West African sub-region got a boost last week when the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) led by Mrs Sally Uwechue-Mbanefo signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cote d’Ivoire Tourism Board. The ceremony, which was witnessed by tourism stakeholders and officials from the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), its Cote D’Ivoire counterpart, Centre de Promotion des Investments En Cote D’Ivoire (CEPICI), held during the Nigeria-Cote D’Ivoire Economic Forum in Lagos.
Also present at the forum were the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Skye Bank, Mr John Olatunde Ayeni; Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. William Azumah Awinadar-Kanyirige; Ambassador of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire to Nigeria, Mrs Toures nee Kone Maman; Mr. Essis Esmel Emmanuel; Sergie Olivier Gaddah; Mr. Assoua Raymond and Wande Akinboboye, among others.
The forum, which featured presentations on the investment climate and opportunities in both countries, urged nations of the West African sub-region to trade among themselves.
Mrs Mbanefo said Nigeria needs to improve its production capacity and invest in labour intensive sectors such as tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. This, she said, was the only way to create jobs for the small and medium scale entrepreneurs, the youth and women.
She disclosed that the corporation has been holding talks with Ghana Tourism Board and the South African Tourism Board. “Two years ago, we signed an MoU with The Gambia Tourism Board and the first batch of NTDC staff were approved for training and best practice exchange. We will not stop until we achieve a West African Tourism Brand, so that when a tourist begins his trip in one African country, he or she can conclude it in Nigeria to get a holistic approach to tourism in West African,” she said.
The Director-General said: “We want to encourage other African countries that have best practices for cocoa production, textile and fashion industries to collaborate with Nigeria to create jobs for the youth. If our manufacturing and agriculture industries are reawakened, tourism would have contributed to job creation through such synergies with Cote D’Ivoire and other African countries, where we can emulate their industry best practices.’
Mrs Mbanefo explained that ‘Nigeria must encourage mechanised farming and industrialisation. “I’m happy associations like Manufacturers Associations of Nigeria (MAN), which I worked very closely with when I was in Lafarge Cement, are here. The Fashion industry is also a great opportunity to empower youth with skilled labour and grow small and medium scale enterprises,” she said.
Skye Bank CEO Mr. John Olatunde Ayeni called on West African countries to continually provide information about investment opportunities in their countries and share same for overall development of the region. He said trade among West African countries should be encouraged, describing the signing of the MoU as the ‘beginning of good things to come. “Lets network and invest in ourselves,” he said.
According to Mbanefo, the corporation has been collaborating with Cote D’Ivoire Tourism Board for the past three years. “They have been coming to the corporation for collaboration between the two countries, but the MoU signed today will unite us and help achieve the ECOWAS Tourism Brand Regional Alliance, which NTDC has been working on with other African countries,” she added.
She described tourism as a value chain that touches every sector in the economy because “tourism is leaving your house to seek business, leisure, sports, cultural or religious adventure and the vehicle you use is either a car, bus, plane or train that are manufacturers’ benefits, fuelling it benefits oil and gas sector and going to a bukka or restaurant to eat, benefits the agricultural sector”.
The Director-General reiterated NTDC’s mandate as the apex tourism promotion and marketing agency in Nigeria to include marketing and promoting the beautiful products of Nigeria such as cultural festivals, arts, Nollywood, musicians and numerous eco-tourism products and link them up to the rest of Africa.
Ambassador of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire to Nigeria, Mrs Toures, thanked all the participants for honouring her invitation, saying: “We will co-operate and partner Nigeria in many areas such as Tourism, textiles, telecommunication, power, health and education.”
Mrs Toures added that “the Forum is a platform for Cote D’Ivoire to form an alliance with Nigeria to enable the two countries strengthen the existing areas and explore new fields of co-operation on a win-win situation and reduce poverty in Africa”.