In Lagos, content takes centre stage at film meet

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EVALUATING the economic and social impact of the nation's fledging video industry came under focus at the 5th edition of the annual Lagos International Forum on Cinema, Motion Picture and Video in Africa. The annual event was organised by ITPAN with the support of Embassy of France and French Cultural Centre.
The three-day event held from July 6 through 9 at the French Cultural Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos and Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island.

The theme of this year's event was Creating Content for Socio-Economic Re-engineering and personalities like the managing director/chief executive officer of Nigeria Film Corporation (NFC), Jos, Afolabi Adesanya, president of Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN), Femi Odugbemi and Prof. Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business School among others, presented various papers at the of the event.

In spite of the widely perceived success of the industry, much is still needed to be done, particularly by the federal government to move the sector beyond its present level, Adesanya said noting that the federal government has provided a grant of about 22 million naira in the area of training of man power.

The NFC's new helmsman further said that the review of the National Film Policy, a Technical Committee for the National Film Fund, a steering committee for the Motion Picture Practitioners Council, Motion Picture Copyright Registration and repositioning of the present censors board as a "classification Board," are essential areas of focus for the government, "if the motion picture business has to thrive and wax stronger".

On contents, Adesanya, the producer of Vigilante and Ose-Sango, decries the arrogance of a producer's misuse of artistic license because motion picture content "is still seen as a matter of individual choice and the producer's artistic preferences," Content as an important instrument for social transformation and economic engineering is neglected, Adesanya observed. Development, he noted, must be viewed within the context of blending old and new ideas, adding that "socio-economic engineering also involves the generation of psychic mobility and empathy, raising aspirations, teaching new and encouraging local participation in development activities".

For an industry that is struggling to apply content in socio-economic development, the former boss of Odua Group of company's owned West Africa Pictures Company Limited (WAPCOL), therefore recommends eight steps to be considered within that content. Some of his suggestions include: "Mobilising and motivating Nigerians by diseminating and propagating in their films, ideas which promote national pride, solidarity and consciousness; promoting creativity in all fields of arts and ensuring the continuity of traditional skills and their progress updating to serve our modern development needs" as well as creating content which he said should be able to sustain and advance our social condition and in turn enhance the quality of life, produce responsible citizenry and on ordered society."

In his keynote address, Prof. Pat Utomi accepted that art, particularly acting is as challenging and serious as other professions. He takes a look at the theme of the day within the context of arts for life or life for arts. "In approaching the question of social impact of the content of this powerful art form I guess the big question is whether art imitates life or life imitates art."

Content in the film art is so powerful and influential in the society that if left unchallenged by the reality of life, thereby causing a people to be distracted from social order. While noting that the positive aspect of art as in film often prophesises for the society, he therefore contended that: "Life must therefore imitate Art just as Arts imitates life". And against the background of a possible failed state of the Nigeria entity, Utomi who recently hosted stakeholders in the Nigerian movie industry at a forum on the enterpreneurship of the business observed that the potential of movie business in nation building is grossly under utilised. And to make a better enterprise of television and movies or video, he sees it as joint venture of public/private sector partnerships."