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Film journalist, Aigbokhaevbolo set for Sundance


The creative entrepreneur and film journalist, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, is set to attend the Sundance Film Festival, the American showcase of arts cinema. The film festival is entwined with Hollywood history. The Oscar winning actor and director, Robert Redford, in 1969, purchased the land where the festival is held. It has equally brought such filmmakers as, Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh to limelight. Soderbergh’s film, Sex, Lies, Videotape, was the lighting rod of 1989 edition of the festival.

This invitation is coming six years after Aigbokhaevbolo took part in film journalism training in South Africa, the Netherlands and Germany, all in a single year. At that time, he covered the Durban International Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival respectively.

Speaking on his invitation to Sundance with The Guardian, Aigbokhaevbolo, who holds a Ph.D degree in pharmacy, said, “Sundance is a long running festival with an enviable history,” he said. “I’m glad it has extended a welcoming hand across these many miles to a film writer based in Lagos.”

According to Aigbokhaevbolo, he is hopeful that the event will lead to more opportunities for Nollywood and Nigerian cinema culture. “Sundance is the biggest independent film festival in the US and Nollywood should be there and at all the reputable festivals in the world,” he disclosed. “Along with my duties as a film writer, I’ll be looking to see what is possible in terms of production and distribution. Good independent American films should show in Nigeria and good Nollywood films should be shown abroad as well. There is money to be made both ways and we can learn from each other.”

As a respected writer-reviewer, Aigbokhaevbolo has written about Nollywood and other aspects of Nigerian culture for about a decade. His first book is set for release in the last quarter of the year.

His work has won a number of awards, including the 2015 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) prize for Journalist of the Year. Based on his decade-long involvement in African music, movies and books, Aigbokhaevbolo launched Critics & Bylines (C&B), a media and entertainment consultancy firm with a focus on West and parts of East Africa.

“C&B was set up to help filmmakers without huge budget to have their works discussed. So many African filmmakers go to festivals and nobody knows about them or their films. No promotion, no press releases, no reviews. We want to change this. Good films and filmmakers need to be better known. It is one step towards attracting investors and sustaining a career,” Aigbokhaevbolo, who also runs a writing workshop aimed at helping Nigerians and Nigerian businesses produce better writing, said. He hinted that he is planning a trade publication to promote filmmakers, review films, cover festivals and analyse the business of Nollywood and African cinema.

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