• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Four years on, AFRIFF celebrates African cinema


As more young filmmakers are springing up on the continent, and old ones are improving on their craft, the Africa International Film Festival, (AFRIFF) is set to celebrate African cinema in a grand style as preparations are in top gear for the festival’s 4th edition.

The selection this year is an array of feature films, some hard hitting documentaries and a generous selection of shorts representing over 30 countries from all regions of Africa.

So far, over 250 films is said to have been submitted in diverse categories which includes features, documentaries, shots, animations amongst others.

Speaking at a press briefing, Keith Shiri, artistic director, AFRIFF, said that the opening night film will be ‘The Sqaure,’ an Oscar nominated documentary by the Egyptian filmmaker Jehan Noujaim, a stunning film narrates three years of Egyptian political upheaval that began in 2011.

Shiri also disclosed that the closing night film will be a highly compact action thriller by a young director, Zee Ntuli, who displays a mastery of the action genre with breezy performances from its main cast.

“Amongst the official feature competition,” he explained, “there are plenty of little gems to choose from and they include, ‘Gone Too Far,’ an adaption from Bola Agbe’s ‘Olivier’ an award winning play set in London. Destiny Ekaragha’s outrageous enjoyable comedy focuses on estranged Nigerian brothers, as they meet for the first time.”

In addition he said another feature is ‘Difret’ from Ethiopia detailing the traumatic experience of an Ethiopian girl accused of killing a man, who had sexually abused her. According to him, Nigeria is strongly represented again this year with Tunde Kelani’s ‘Dazzling Mirage,’ Lancelot Oduma Imasuen’s ‘Invasion 1879’ and the much anticipated Kunle Afolayan’s ‘October 1’.

“There is equally a feast of compelling stories in the shorts film category among which there is the ‘Africa Metropolis’ presenting six short films examining the complexities of urban life from Abidjan, Cairo, Dakar, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi,” he said.

In addition to the wide range of films, the festival will offer the industry a good platform to discuss issues affecting the African film industry such as finance, digital distribution, piracy amongst other issues.

“We are aiming for a busy and exciting few days of doing business, networking and to celebrate and explore how digital technology can be used to create a new aesthetic in the sync with the realities of today. It is always a daunting task to go through all the submitted titles to fit in a programme that runs for only eight days but I would like to congratulate and thank all the filmmakers for sharing their films with us,” Shiri said.

Chioma Ude, chief executive officer, AFRIFF, said the festival is growing and has a huge team of brilliant minds who will be training 100 students at film schools. These are students studying film related programmes at the university.

Ude said she is excited that AFRIFF has another ambassador, Xolile Tshabolola, foremost South African actress and director, who will be contributing her wealth of experience to this year’s festival.

Popular actress, Rita Dominic, who is also a 2014 ambassador of AFRIFF said that her experience with AFRIFF for the past two years has been splendid as she has been able to meet her colleagues from Africa and watch certain films she ordinarily would not be able to watch.

“AFRIFF has helped me spread the word,” said Dominic, “that AFRIFF is us, to us and for us. It is a major achievement for Nollywood and Africa and this is a way to grow Africa cinema.”

AFRIFF 2014 is scheduled to take place at the popular Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort, Calabar, Cross River State, from November 9 to 16.