BusinessDay

Edo draws attention to creative industry with film festival

Aside from being a top custodian of African rich cultural heritage, Edo State has so much to offer.

From culture, arts, tourism to the creative economy, the state has so much to offer.

However, the need to harness all its potential in the creative economy led to the hosting of the first Edo State International Films Festival. The festival is worth hosting considering the many creative talents from the state across film producers, directors, actors and actresses, music artistes, visual artists among others.

Sequel to that, the state gathered the world in its domain on a four-day feast at the film festival, which many described as a showcase of creativity amid capacity building. The gathering was in line with the theme of the festival ‘Edo to The World’.

The Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub, and Sound Stage, Benin; venues of the festival haD large crowd, across government officials, foreign guests, other stakeholders, movie fans and the public.

As expected, everyone that matters in the state was around, while their friends and global entertainment industry stakeholders also gathered to celebrate the creative ingenuity of the state.

There were many exciting activities for the four days the festival lasted.

Top among them are; master-classes with industry experts, panel discussions, movie premieres, virtual sessions, and networking opportunities with local and international industry participants.

Some of the master-classes were also facilitated by celebrity actors including; Mercy Aigbe, Linda Osifo, Etinosa Idemudia, who shared their approaches and experiences in various areas of acting and production.

Excitedly, over 2,000 films were screened during the festival from entries received from 94 countries.

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But one of the highlights of the festival was the recognition of trailblazers who are putting Edo State on the global map for good reasons. They included: MercyAigbe, Adesua, Linda Osifo, Nosa Rex, Etinosa Idemudia, Mr. Billy King, Yvonne, Adesua Etomi, and Toyin Aimakun.

Winners in the various movie categories announced by a selection Jury were rewarded too. Some of them included: On This Mountain, which won the Best Indigenous Film and a $5,000 prize, Best Film shot in Edo Film with $5,000 dollars cash prize and the Governor’s Award for Best Overall Film, won by Onaiwu.

However, the festival had full government support. In his opening speech at the festival, Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo State, reiterated the government’s commitment to investing in the creative industry towards making it a haven of tourism, saying ’’Over the centuries, we have been the cradle of culture, innovation, and creativity in this part of the continent. What you see here today is believing in our arts. Edo State has taken the lead in working with our partners to strategically invest in the creative industry. We have taken our time to take advantage of our unique opportunity in terms of our creation and our endowment. Our goal is to be the hope of culture and tourism in West Africa’’.

The festival, which was flagged off by Betsy Obaseki, first lady of Edo State, on September 1, 2022, is an initiative of the Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs). It is aimed at promoting creativity in the arts, providing an avenue for creative skills development, job opportunities, and enhancing capacity building for young Nigerians.

As the state prepares for a second edition next year, the organisers are grateful to the sponsors including; Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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