EKOIFF President and the Lagos Delegation at the Cannes Film Festival
The President/Co-founder of Eko International Film Festival (EKOIFF), Hope
Obioma Opara and a Lagos state delegation were among the only Nigerians at
the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in France, and he shared the highlights of
their trip with Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima.
EMC: You were at the recently concluded 63rd Cannes Film Festival in
France, how was Nigeria represented this time?
Hope: The Cannes Film Festival is the world cup finals of the film world
attracting thousands of filmmakers, lovers of movies and tourists to
Cannes every May, but unlike last year Nigeria did not have a pavilion and
only few Nigerian journalists were there. The Guardian, The Nation and
Supple magazine were the major Nigerian news media.
EMC: You and the Lagos state delegation were at the 63rd Cannes Film
Hope: Yes. The Lagos state government sent the Permanent Secretary for
Tourism and Inter-Governmental Affairs and the Censors Board and also Mr.
and Mrs. Fashola, the amiable parents of the Governor Babatunde Raji
Fashola, SAN, were also there.
EMC: Why did the Lagos State delegation attend the Cannes Film festival?
Hope: The Lagos state delegation came to Cannes to promote the Lagos Film
City project to be located in Badagry. The Lagos Film City will be the
Hollywood of Nigeria. And we met with the top executives of KODAK at an
exclusive party on a luxury yacht where the Lagos state delegation
publicized the Lagos Film City project and I informed the international
guests of the Eko International Film festival coming up in Lagos this
July, which is going to become the Cannes of Africa. I had a very
important meeting with KODAK executives on how we can improve the quality
of Nollywood in cinematography.
EMC: What were the major attractions at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival?
Hope: Well, Cannes will always get better with over 25, 000 film
professionals, over 5, 000 journalists and thousands of tourists thronging
the French Rivera to watch the best movies in and out of competition and
of course the popular Cannes market premieres with millions of other
viewers watching on TV and Internet. As Thomas Sotinel, the Movies Section
Editor of the prestigious Le Monde said, that Cannes Film festival is
where you see the interpretation of global changes in the eyes of the film
industry, attracting the gaze of the five continents. Filmmakers do not
only tell our stories, but also capture history in the making. Senegal and
South Africa competed for the top prizes and one of the most moving and
touching Films was “Life, Above All", a movie on the stigma and trauma of
AIDS in South Africa. Many of the viewers left the theatre in tears after
seeing it. A filmmaker from Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul won the
highest prize, the Palme d'Or for his film "LUNG BOONMEE RALUEK CHAT
(Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives)". But the question is;
where is Nigeria? We need to work harder to compete with the best in the
film world. I am very confident that we have all it takes in terms of
ambitious directors, daring producers, outstanding actors and actresses to
pitch in every film festival in the world. And that is why we want to use
Eko International Film Festival to bring the film world to Lagos every
July and attract thousands of tourists to Nigeria.
I was also interviewed on the inaugural Eko International Film Festival by
our media partners on EKOIFF which is already attracting filmmakers and
movie buffs from all over the world.
EMC: How many films have been submitted for EKOIFF?
Hope: We have received over 33 films so far and 21 of them are by
filmmakers from Europe and other parts of the world, including a Spanish
film that has won over 100 awards, and one film called “Made in Japan”. We
are excited that many foreign filmmakers are willing to come to Nigeria
EMC: So, you are ready to host the film world come July 7-12, 2010?
Hope: We are doing our best with able members of the Organizing Committee
and our European media partners who have publicized Eko International Film
Festival to over 4,000 filmmakers and over 77, 000 film festival media
agencies in the world
We need the cooperation and support of the Lagos state government since
this is the host state, the Federal Government, the local and
multinational companies and everyone to do their best to join us to make
the inaugural Eko International Film Festival a success
Nigerian filmmakers and others should go to our website for accreditation,
because only accredited film practitioners and journalists will be given
free pass. Others will buy tickets to see the movies at the venue. Over
300, 000 tickets were sold at the 63RD Cannes Film Festival
Eko International Film Festival is show business and as they say there is
no show like show business and this is Eko for show. We are ready to make
it happen for the entertainment of all lovers of movies.