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AFRIFF like no other is next on Chioma Ude’s plate

By Shaibu Husseini
06 November 2021   |   4:03 am
At our end, we are ready. In fact, the atmosphere and feedback we are getting tells again of how ready and excited industry filmmakers and film enthusiast, as well as film entrepreneurs are, for another week of cinematic experience, business networking, movie premieres...

Chioma Ude

It is time for Africa’s most vibrant and most innovative film festival, Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) and the founder and Executive Director Chioma Ude has assured that her team is set to deliver a landmark 10th anniversary edition tagged Africans for Africa.

Scheduled to open on Sunday, November 7, and runs through November 13 in Lagos and hosted with support from Access Bank, US Diplomatic Mission Nigeria, Konga, Afreximbank, Landmark, Pan African Capital, Pernod Ricard and Filmhouse Group, AFRIFF is undoubtedly a world class showcase that presents a complete immersion into the world of film making with participation from local and international filmmakers.

Moviedom caught up with Ude amidst preparation for the festival and for her this landmark edition provides the opportunity to celebrate those who enable AFRIFF to dream and celebrate storytelling, which challenges society.

We are ready for AFRIFF
At our end, we are ready. In fact, the atmosphere and feedback we are getting tells again of how ready and excited industry filmmakers and film enthusiast, as well as film entrepreneurs are, for another week of cinematic experience, business networking, movie premieres, film screenings, industry sessions, masterclasses, workshops, the Globe Awards and other events that have become the hallmark of AFRIFF that I am so proud to describe as Africa’s most vibrant and innovative Film Festival. So, we are ready and all is set for the opening event of the festival.

And like we mentioned during the pre-festival press event, we are opening the festival on November 7, with Michael Pearce’s eagerly anticipated sci-fi thriller Encounter, starring Emmy award winner and Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Riz Ahmed and Oscar-Winning actress, Octavia Spencer. We will then close with Bolanle Austin Peters’ heart fluttering narrative Collision Course. Of course we will screen over 1000 films before the end of the festival and then host African filmmakers and enthusiasts to business networking sessions, industry sessions, master classes, workshops, and the Globe Awards.

It’s a landmark 10th anniversary
Yes, it is and I am super excited to announce our 10th-anniversary edition, following the global pandemic! We had to suspend hosting AFRIFF last year because of the pandemic. However, it is with the greatest pleasure that we once again bring our varied programme of the very best of cinema and film content to the forefront. This year’s festival is one that is dedicated to Africans for Africa; those who enable us to dream and to celebrate storytelling, which challenges society.

I am also very excited to announce that we will dedicate a day to anime and gaming to continue our vibrancy and innovation. We will continue to focus our efforts on training and supporting more filmmakers than ever before, as well as building global bridges, and promoting further cross-cultural exchanges.

Opening Up AFRIFF to Other Content
The festival received a record-breaking number of submissions (over 4000) this year from over 100 countries; the highest it has received to date and will screen almost 150 projects, including features, shorts, documentaries and much more selected by our team of programmers, who watched over 2000 hours of footage. So, we are good with films.

But the festival would also witness the screening of animations and games contents. In fact, we will beam a search light on Nigeria’s anime space to deepen the animation and eSports ecosystem on the back of a growing youth population and its overall contribution to the nation’s gross domestic products (GDP). The Nigerian anime ecosystem, which is largely untapped, is believed to be about 66 million mobile (eSports) players, of which 44 million are active gamers. Of these numbers, 25 million are mobile online players while 1.2 million play on personal computer (PC); 1 million play on console and over 960, 000 viewers in a market yet to be consolidated and have not been served with local content.

So, I am very excited to announce that we will dedicate a day to anime and gaming to continue our vibrancy and innovation. I mean with over 44 million active gamers in Nigeria and viewership of 961,000 people watching sporting content, there is definitely a big gap in animation content in Africa. This is the reason the festival has included a training session on animation. And we are not just going to stop at training them; the best 25 students in the animation training would receive funding from sponsors to be able to make their own films.

AFRIFF in another 10 years
We want to continue to be regarded as a world-class showcase that presents a complete immersion into the world of filmmaking with participation from local and international filmmakers, students, equipment manufacturers and businessmen. We want to see to the growth and development of an indigenous film industry whose products can compete favourably in the international space. We want to be that festival that will be known globally for provide a growth opportunity for film industry professionals to eventually export their products to the world.

We also want to continue to facilitate access to investors, equipment, technical and skill acquisition through Festival organised fora and several capacity development workshops. Most of all, we want to continue to complement government’s efforts at revamping small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). We also want to own our festival space, and to contribute to talent development across the continent. We are training 1,000 youths across Africa on filmmaking and content creation this year. We should be able to do over 100,000 before our 20th anniversary. That’s my dream. So help me God.

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