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From Africa to Berlinale
By Victor Akande
The 70th edition of one of my favorite film festivals, Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) is ongoing, and I am excited to know that Nigeria is making its mark on the world stage. We may not have captured the grounds enough as a leading film destination in Africa, but being represented annually and playing a role at the Africa hub is what sustainability is all about. I look forward to a day Nigeria will maximize the unique opportunities given to Africa by the likes of Berlinale and TIFF.
Most notable is the much-touted Nigerian documentary film, Eyimofe which premieres at the festival. Revisiting the beauty of 16mm, Eyimofe which tells the story of migrants and their pursuit for better lives in Europe is written by Chuko Esiri and produced by Melissa Adeyemo.
Berlinale’s record of the synopsis says: “The two parts of Eyimofe are entitled “Spain” and “Italy”. The European countries remain invisible as we follow the stories of Mofe, a factory technician, and Rosa, a hairdresser, in Lagos. A passport, photos and a visa form recurring, yet still marginal elements in each part of the film, which only touch briefly, while the daily lives of the protagonists are described in detail. Their misfortunes are not narrated in overly dramatic fashion and seem normal as such, sketching out the need to leave Nigeria and accompanying problems. At the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, status, money, gender, skin colour and family structures are inextricably connected.
The film which in 2018 was one of the winners of New York University’s Purple List, an annual selection of the best production-ready screenplays from its Tisch School of the Arts stars local talent including Jude Akuwudike, Tomiwa Edun, Temi Ami-Williams, Cynthia Ebijie, and Jacob Alexander and international act, Goodness Emmanuel among others.
Interestingly, Eyimofe is said to have landed an international deal with the New York-based Aspect Ratio Sales which has taken sales rights of the film (minus Africa and Asia where GDN Studios will continue to retain the rights).
On the other hand, the notable Berlinale Talents has Nigerian film personalities, Tope Tedela and Akinola Ogunmade-Davies. The extensive summit programme of master classes and panel discussions with top-notch experts offers a range of Project Labs in which filmmakers can further develop and present their own project. The two Nigerians (Ogunmade-Davies, a British-Nigerian director and visual artist and Tedela, an award-winning actor) join 253 others from 86 countries. The intensive six-day programme features 100 events with internationally renowned experts and acclaimed Berlinale guests holding workshops and talks.
The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) is also following through with its plans by hosting a film business forum at the Africa hub. The interactive session is designed to meet, interact, network and explore partnerships and collaborations with global Film Commissions, Institutional Organisations/Bodies, Investors, Development Partners, Financiers, Content Producers, Marketers, Distributors, Exhibitors as well as Participants who are interested in keying into the activities and programmes of the Nigerian NFC and investing in the Nigerian film industry generally.
Tagged Film Business to Business Forum (FB2BF), the agency explains that the outing will include training and development, content development/broadcasting, film festivals, co-production, cineplexes/community theatres, investment/multimedia centres, film broadcast, exchange programme and talent hunt.
One can always trust South African film industry to well represented in the business of film. From ‘Knuckle City’s premiere at the last Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), South Africa’s ‘Days of Cannibalism’ is contesting the Best Documentary Award at this year’s Berlinale.
Directed by Teboho Edkins, the cross-genre documentary film is set in the rugged terrain of a remote rural region in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
The film which has its world premiere at the festival focuses on how modern-day pioneers are met with unease by local communities, and how self-made Chinese merchants negotiate their place alongside traditional Basotho cattle breeders.
From Africa to Berlinale