NFVCB, ISDEVCOM partner on media literacy, film classification, censorship
The nationwide sensitisation programme for stakeholders in Nigerian video film industry berthed in Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), early last week.The programme, which was jointly organised by the National Film and Video Census Board (NFVCB) and the Institute of Strategic and Development Communication (ISDEVCOM), Nasarawa State, provided a moment of discernment among film practitioners, regulatory agency as well as film scholars.
In attendance were, the Vice Chancellor, NSUK, Prof. Suleiman Bala Mohammed, represented by the Deputy V.C, Academic, Prof. Olayemi Akinwumi; the chief executive of NFVCB, Adedayo Thomas, represented by a senior director in the agency, Mr. Joseph Ejike; and the Executive Director, ISDEVCOM, Professor Emmanuel Dandaura. There were also film producers, directors, actors and editors in attendance at the four-day programme. Some of them include, the popular Nollywood and film lecturer, Sir Obi Okoli, Aisha Mohammed, Paul Sambo and Emmanuel Ehumadu.
And for participating students drawn from the departments of Theatre Arts, Film and Media Studies from 16 tertiary instituitions within and around Nasarawa State, it was equally an opportunity to interact with stakeholders, not only about their prospects in the industry but equally on their views about the quality and cultural representations in Nollywood films.
While acknowledging the crucial roles of homemade videos in information, education and entertainment of viewers, students however expressed their discontent with some productions, which in their judgment; fell short of expectations, both in themes and artistic quality.
But there was also an opportunity for film producers, directors and actors to defend their profession. They relayed their challenges, which include, equipment deficit and lack of support from government or multinationals as enjoyed by their Hollywood counterparts.
The concern of NFVCB, however, was ensuring that industry practitioners understand some of the reasons it comes heavily against films that flout institutional regulations.The forum no doubt, helped in bridging the gulf between film operators and the regulating agency. Tagged, ‘National Workshop on Media Literacy, Capacity Building on Film Classification, Censorship and Youth Development,’ several scholarly papers were also presented by experts in film and other related studies.
Among them was the former Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Professor Barclays Ayakoroma, whose presentation was titled, ‘Enforcing the NFVCB’s Film and Video Classification Codes and Effective Censorship’ through Stakeholders Involvement’.
Also speaking on the same topic was a film producer and actor, Azubuike Erinuga. Other presentations are ‘Youth, Film, Behaviour Modeling, and Leadership Development in Nigeria’ by Professor E. Zamani of the Department of Sociology, NSUK; ‘Socio-economic and Political Dimensions of Film and Video Classification and Censorship in Nigeria’ by Dr. Sunday Igbaba of the Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, NSUK.
A Nollywood actor and lecturer from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Okoli and Rai D. Maiwa’azi of the Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State, focused on ‘Nollywood, Portrayal of Nigerian Cultures and National Identity Construction.’
Meanwhile, the Deputy V.C, Academic, Professor Olayemi Akinwumi represented the Vice Chancellor of the hosting university, Professor Suleiman Bala Mohammed.The V.C acknowledged that today’s word is governed by images and as such, social realities are largely influenced by the multi media images that people, particularly the youths, are exposed to daily.
“As a professor of sociology, I know through scientific studies that any nation that neglects the kind of images its youth are exposed to, will harvest regrettable consequences like violence, hooliganism and innumerable security challenges. “It is in realisation of this that the Federal Government established NFVCB. NSUK as one of the foremost institutions with a very robust postgraduate programme in film studies is happy to collaborate with the agency to host this important workshop.”He noted that Institute of Strategic and Development Communication (ISDEVCOM) is not only the school’s flagship Institute, but second to none globally.
Established barely two years ago, the Institute is recognised as the number one centre of excellence in science communication in Africa. “Through the initiatives of the Institute, NSUK also has secured strategic partnership arrangements which include endowment of chairs in strategic communication and communication entrepreneurship by the Office of the V.C, the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Institute of Entrepreneurs (IoE) respectively,” the vice chancellor said,Adding: “I am delighted that ISDEVCOM was able to plan this workshop, which attracted seven key players in the Nollywood industry to our campus.
“I welcome our national icons whose exploits on the film screen is helping to tell the Nigerian story across the globe faster than any government information medium. Consider NSUK your home and development partner. “Nasarawa State is the home of culture in Nigeria. We have some of the amazing scenic features and talents that world film industries crave for. This explains why our Institute of Strategic and Development Communication is stepping up our strategic plan to establish the Nasarawa Film village,” he stated.
In his remarks, the representative of NFVCB, Joseph Ejike, stated that the workshop was informed by the realisation that the youths are being shaped by the content of the social media for which majority of them lacked the understanding of it ought to be.“So, we feel that this sensitisation and capacity building programme will make them take the right part from the wrong part some of them are towing, and those that are on the right part should follow it up.”Ejike further admonished the youth to judiciously engage the social media so as to reduce the spate of violence and social crimes across the country.
Addressing the issue of violent scenes in Nollywood films, Ejike noted that such issues come under film censorship and classification.“You cannot avoid violence in films but what the board does is to ensure that the right audience consumes the appropriate films through censorship and classification.“So, what we do is to classify different films under different age brackets. However, it is our advice that parents should be on the guard as censorship officers.
“Once this is enforced, people will not watch what is not suitable for them.” On the enforcement of film classification, Ejike noted that the role of the board is to censor and classify films, “viewers are not controlled by the board,” he argued.“We don’t have control over homes. We cannot enter every home to see whether the children are watching the right films or not but parents can adopt various means to check the films their children watch, including previewing alert.”
For the Executive Director, ISDEVCOM, Professor Dandura, the university was impressed that the programme was coming under a new administration that is determined to protect the image of the university far beyond the shores of Nigeria.“It is a programme that brought together the gown and the town and we are happy that the institute is taking the lead in projecting the university.”Speaking on the impact of Nollywood films on violence and crimes in the society, Dndaura stressed that for every film, the demand is that there should always be a moral lesson at the end.
“Even in dramaturgy, if you are writing about crimes and perpetrators of crimes, you must also follow up by using every element of dramaturgy to ensure that the same people are punished or rewarded accordingly.“The essence of the programme is to ensure that people are guided properly in the use of social media. It wouldn’t have come at a better time, and to consider that it is championed by the regulatory body itself is a plus.”
Dandaura also considered the partnership with the Video Censors board very strategic as according to him, it provided an opportunity for exchange of information on the kind of cultural values producers should be encouraged to reflect in their films as well as the kind of films that would support government’s effort towards improving the image of the country and the climate that would allow investors to come into the country.
“The workshop is participatory. It is not a conference and we are going to take participating students through the process of film classification and censorship. They will watch film as well as suggest why some films should not be allowed to be aired. “The impact on the students is that they are being trained as young practitioners that would join the industry tomorrow because there are some producers that see the film and video censors board as the man with the cane. This is because they don’t understand why certain images should be regulated.
“At the end of the day, the students will go home with better understanding of what films can do in terms of telling our stories and shaping their perspectives because film is a very powerful medium that can shape the thinking of a whole generation of people, and we think that Nigerian films are in a good position to bring about the orientation of our youths.“The motto of our university is ‘Knowledge for Development’ and the Senate thought of establishing this Institute because we also wanted to expand the opportunities for driving development with the sole aim of leveraging communication tools and practices.
“As the pioneer director, I am a Professor of Participatory Communication and I am coming up with some networks that I belong to. “It was an opportunity for us to make those networks available to drive the purpose for which the university established the institute and this is why we were able to get the result within a short time,” Dandaura stated.
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