|Interview by Ogova Ondego
Published July 18, 2007
Forty-four years after the first film was made a black in sub-Saharan Africa, efforts to turn filmmaking into the veritable industry that it should be on the mother continent are hampered by numerous obstacles despite well meaning recommendations and declarations at international film fora like the one that took place in Pretoria, South Africa, in April 2006. In this second of four parts interview, Afolabi Adesanya, managing director of Nigeria Film Corporation, tells OGOVA ONDEGO that the Pretoria Declaration is good and acceptable to Africa but that the issue of the implementer of those recommendations–statutory bodies or associations of filmmakers–is yet to be resolved.
What, to you, have been the highlights of the African Film Summit?
The bringing of Africans together under the African Union to discuss film matters and restructure and inject new blood in the administration of the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers, FEPACI.
But I thought the filmmakers themselves are the ones to work on the film commission.
It has not been exactly resolved but otherwise most of the recommendations made are generally well accepted to the general body. As for FEPACI, it has been a rather acrimonious debate.
There is some resistance from Francophone Africa.
If you’ve been holding on to power for too long you are not likely to accept changes. You throw tantrums as we saw. There is an old power bloc that’s finding it very difficult to let go; FEPACI people have not performed at regional and at continental level: look at the shoddy reports from both the regions and the secretariat. That means there was a need to reform and to reinvent FEPACI. All the African regions must have a say in FEPACI.
Look at the realities of the Summit
We have to reintegrate the motion picture industry on the continent. FEPACI as the body of national associations of filmmakers can only work to an extent; there is a need for bilateral relations among African countries. We need to relate more with ourselves. It is imperative to have the African Film Commission to ensure that membership is drawn from statutory bodies representing their countries as they are the ones to articulate the continental policy and translate this for their own stakeholders and practitioners. To that extent we have to ensure that we don’t just put filmmakers on the continental film commission just because they are the ones who stand to benefit; they are not policymakers and don’t implement policies; they still have to come back to their home government, to their statutory bodies. So why not let the statutory bodies constitute the commission right from the onset?
Nigeria has so many film statutory�leave alone non-governmental–bodies it would be difficult to choose which one to work with
Each of these para-state organisations is there for a purpose: The Nigerian Film Corporation is the developmental agency for production, and post-production; for training and capacity-building for which we established the National Film Institute; archiving for which we established the National Films and Video Archive. We also organise Zuma, a national film festival.
Some issues like film festivals appeared to have been ignored by the African Film Summit
Not only film festivals were ignored but also copyright. Film festivals are very important. They are crucial to developing markets as they expose productions to the public at large. Some films will do very well on the film market because they are purpose-made as commercial productions. There are others that are not exactly commercial productions that target mass audience but are experimental, artistic, or cultural films. Such films need a platform for exposure and that is what the film festival is all about; even commercial films come to test the audience on the platform of film festivals. So festivals are very crucial in the promotion of films regardless of whether they are commercial. So I think it was an oversight not to have included these two items on the agenda.
Was there any political agenda in this summit?
There is always a reward in hosting an event. South Africans are spearheading the spirit of the African Renaissance and the rebirth of the African cinema; so if they are willing to use their resources on this, why not oblige them?
Meanwhile, following the publication of the first part of articles on the African Film Summit by ArtMatters.Info, Josie D’Angelo, President of Agoralumiere International, has sent in his feedback that appears here below in whichich he commends ArtMatters.Info “for such a very interesting article.”:
Thank you very much indeed for such an interesting article dated June 23, 2007 on the African Film Summit.
I would just like to draw your attention to the efforts which have been made over the last ten years by Mr Marc Nekaitar who was elected in 2006 the European representative for FEPACI.
Mr Nekaitar, who was the first person to invite Danny Glover, Jesse Jackson, etc, to help draw attention to the African film industry and has created the African Vision Awards, has fought to place the African film industry on the agenda at Cannes film festival in France.
This year, Mr Nekaitar was interviewed by Reuteurs as the European Representative in FEPACI and he drew attention to the on-going work of FEPACI. A copy of the article will soon be available on agoralumiere.org website but I can make it available if you so wish.
You may also wish to consult the website (especially the reports for 2006 and 2007 where he invited Nollywood/Nigeria for the first time to Cannes and this year the DRC). This website is also the work of an African.
It is by supporting these sort of worthwhile causes that big steps for the industry can be made.
In our parts three and four on the African Film Summit articles, ArtMatters.Info shall carry interviews with African Film Summit project manager Lebone Maema and Howard University academic, Mbye Cham, who was responsible for developing the objectives and the expected output of the African Film Summit.