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PAFF calls for film appreciation in schools

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Asantewa Olatunji

Asantewa Olatunji

The General Manager of the U.S.A.’s largest black film festival, and a juror for the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), Asantewa Olatunji, has advised that cinematic arts be part of school curricula.

In a trans-Atlantic interview with The Guardian, Olatunji, of the Los Angeles-based Pan-African Film Festival (PAFF), cautioned that movies could either be creative or destructive.

With PAFF celebrating its 25th birthday February 9-20, Asantewa was asked to reflect on attitudinal changes, since she and her partner, Ayuko Babu (also an AMAA juror), started out.

“The tendency among our people, on both sides of the ocean,” she observed, “has been to think of film merely as entertainment. But that is far, far from being the case”.

Asantewa, who visits Nigeria annually (in the service of AMAA), counseled that while movies must be entertaining to hold an audience, they also plant ideas and shape attitudes.

“Well-scripted and expertly crafted productions,” she said, “can place ideas in the heads of viewers that actually change society”.

She also described movies as “21st century books,” because of the importance they have attained globally, as sources of information.

Said Asantewa: “I mean, people used to sit down and spend all their time reading. But today, many young people either don’t have time or don’t have the inclination to read”.

The PAFF executive was quick to stress though, that she does not, “in any sense,” look askance at good reading habits, which are “critically important”.

As a lawyer, Asantewa handles PAFF’s legal and business affairs, including collaborations with filmmakers in Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent.

“The governing principle of our festival,” she declared, “is Pan-Africanism. Our belief is that beneficial trade strengthens ties between our people.

“I’m proud to report,” she continued, that PFF has, for more than two decades, “functioned as a vehicle through which film from Nigeria and the
Black World could reach the U.S. market”.

The film activist reminded policy makers that upcoming editions of the festival—which holds in Atlanta, Georgia as well—would commemorate its 25th
anniversary.

She thus expressed hope, that “when I return for AMAA, plans will be announced to include film appreciation in Nigeria’s school curricula. That would be a great birthday gift for PAFF!”


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AMAAAsantewa OlatunjiPAFF

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