Organisers of Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) have announced the return of the festival for 2017. Scheduled to run from October 29 to November 4, 2017, the annual event marks AFRIFF’s 7th season of celebrating African cinema in Nigeria.
At a glitzy media launch which took place at British Council, Ikoyi, Lagos, Tuesday night, the atmosphere tells of how eager industry players are, for another week of cinematic experience, business networking, movie premieres, film screenings, industry sessions, master classes, workshops, the Globe Awards, and other events that have become the hallmark of the AFRIFF journey since it made debut in 2010.
It is a season of international collaborations for AFRIFF with the French government coming in to strengthen its commercial and artistic exchanges with Nigeria. “The importance of AFRIFF, that is growing year after year, is a wonderful showcase for us,” says French Consul General, Lagos, Mr. Laurent Polonceaux, who described the annual event as “one of the most important film festivals in Africa.”
Interestingly, AFRIFF 2017 is dedicating two days – November 2-3, 2017 to French films. This is just as British Council, UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities is bringing the London BFI (British Film Institute) into a new partnership with AFRIFF. Tagged ‘Film Connections’, the British Council’s partnership also aims to share knowledge and give pep to co-production opportunities between filmmakers from Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
AFRIFF Founder/Executive Director Ms. Chioma Ude announced ‘Waiting for Hassana’, a short film by Ifunanya ‘funa’ Maduka (Nigeria/US) and a feature, ‘I Am Not a Witch’ by Rungano Nyoni (Zambia) as the opening night films while ‘Felicite’, an Oscar contender by Alain Gomis (France/Senegal) is the closing night film.
Ude said AFRIFF is well prepared to host filmmakers and actors from around the world this year, noting that the festival continues to attract interests with a record of 3,232 film entries received this year alone. She announced the films in competition which include 24 shorts, 11 documentaries and 14 feature length films, while all the films in official selection will be uploaded to the festival website on October 9.
According to British Council Head of Arts, West Africa, Ojoma Ochai, “As part of the Film Connections project, the 2017 AFRIFF will open with the screening of the Rungano Nyoni film ‘I Am Not a Witchaq’, on the 29th of 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.”
“During the two days devoted to French cinema,” says Polonceaux, “we will welcome here in Lagos, high level professionals working in the production and distribution, and last but not the least, because it is a fundamental element in the funding of the cinema industry, I particularly would like to mention the participation of David Kessler, the Managing Director of Studio Orange and the Director of Orange Content. He’s a leading figure in the French cinema industry. He was among other important positions, the former director of the CNC.”
He noted that, for the first time in France, “two Nollywood movies (The Dinner and 10 Days in Sun City) have been commercially released two weeks ago. That’s a first step, but I am sure it will intensify in the coming years.”
The five French movies that will be screened during AFRIFF include ‘Step by Step’, an emotional movie about the physical reconstruction of a man after a serious accident; ‘Wulu’, a Franco-Malian film, ‘Boarders’, a road-trip between Bamako and Lagos; French Blockbuster ‘Valerian’ by Luc Besson, and ‘He Even Has Your Eyes’, the story of Paul and Sali, a married couple who have been struggling to adopt a child for a long time.