The British Council - the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities – played host to a gathering of senior stakeholders in the Nigerian film industry for the cocktail announcement of the 2017 African International Film Festival. On ground to grace the event, were notable film funders and investors, directors, producers, actors and the festival partners.
British Council used this ocassion to announce its Film Connections – borne out of the need to harness the strengths and create productive linkages between the prolific Nigerian film industry and the dynamic UK film industry. The project comprises two phases; one in the UK and the other in Nigeria and hopes to create a platform for better linkages to facilitate collaborations, exchanges and trade between the Nigerian and United Kingdom film industries. The British Council is collaborating with AFRIFF for the Nigerian phase, supported by Sterling Bank Plc, and with the British Film Institute (BFI), for the UK phase.
Henry Bassey, Chief Marketing Officer, Sterling Bank Plc said
"We are partnering with the British Council to support the film industry because of the need to grow local talents in a fast growing sector. We are big on Made in Nigeria with homemade films as one of the pillars through which we engage and connect with our target audience. For this reason, supporting the Film Connections project is a natural fit based on our brand essence, what we stand for and how we want to grow the local economy. It is a win-win for the Nigerian film industry because of the exchange programme which ensures that participants develop knowledge and skills needed to become more productive and successful filmmakers through skills transfer. Sterling Bank is proud to be associated with the effort to foster partnerships between emerging Nigerian filmmakers and their British counterparts in a meaningful way through Film Connections and its exchange programme.”
The Nigerian phase will run from 29 October to 4 November 2017 and will see visits to Nigeria by British film makers, funders / investors, training institutions and higher education institutions to deliver training workshops for film makers and funders, training workshops for beginners in the film industry, mentoring sessions with young fim makers and enthusiasts as as well as a seminar / career talk about back end and alternative career opportunities in the film industry. UK higher institutions will also attend to to present information on education opportunities in the UK.
Ojoma Ochai, the British Council Head of Arts, West Africa said of the project, ‘Through Film Connections, we are keen to build relationships between UK and Nigerian filmmakers that create opportunities for the film sectors of both countries far into the future.
As part of the Film Connections project, the 2017 AFRIFF will open with the screening of the Rungano Nyoni film ‘I Am Not a Witch’, on the 29 October. There will also be screening of several acclaimed British feature and short films during the festival – showing for the first time in Nigeria, including ‘Whitney ‘Can I Be Me’ by multi-award-winning British Documentarian, Nick Broomfield; ‘Under the Shadow’ by Babak Anvari, winner of the 2017 BAFTA award for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer; and ‘A Moving Image’ by Shola Amoo.
Some of the UK short films that will be screened include ‘Robot and Scarecrow’ by Kibwe Tavares; ‘Tower XYZ’ by Ayo Akingbade; Brixton Rock’ by Ethosheia Hylton; ‘A Viable Candidate’ by Orson Nava; ‘1745’ by Gordon Napier; ‘Mrs Bolanle Benson’ by Sade Adeniran and ‘I Believe in Pink’ by Victoria Thomas.
The UK phase will hold in London within the first quarter of 2018 and will feature film screenings, visits to the UK by Nigeria film industry stakeholders like filmmakers and entrepreneurs, who will lead training workshops for young British filmmakers on Nigerian approaches to low budget film making, networking events to meet potential partners and exploratory discussions on UK-Nigeria film co-production.
Nadia Denton, the Film Connections Curator for the UK phase, said
“Film Connections aims to offer Nigerian and British filmmakers the opportunity to mutually exchange ideas and techniques across boundaries in a way that will endure. The Nigerian film industry is currently experiencing an exciting ‘moment’ in its development. The next generation of Nigerian filmmakers have great potential to emerge on the world stage as never before. We hope that the Film Connections programme will act as a point of inspiration”