Looking Back At AFRIFF 2016 by Ebukah E. Nzeji
Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) 2016 was one event last year I earnestly looked forward to. As it was to be the biggest film festival for the year, with actors and thespians and entertainment practitioners that weren’t present at the other big film festivals, being billed to appear at AFRIFF 2016. Its theme was: “Embracing The World”. It had Nollywood sweetheart Rita Dominic and South African ace comedian David Kau as its Goodwill Ambassadors.
All these and more fuelled my desire to attend AFRIFF 2016. It was also going to be my first time to attend the festival. And this year’s edition was the 6th. That’s five years of absence, for me, from arguably the biggest film festival on the continent. So, as soon as the registration process began, I went online to register. Due to financial constraints, I had to register as a Festivalia, instead of a Delegate.
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The perks offered by the Festivalia pass, was not quite encompassing. So I made do with what was available, which was a free pass to see the screenings of many of the films billed for the festival, with the exception of Birth of a Nation and ‘76, which were the opening and closing films of the festival, respectively.
I started by attending the screening of the animation films. The screenings were held at Film House Cinema, IMAX, Lekki, Lagos. By the wonderful craft of serendipity, I met Ayodele Elegba (Lagos Comic-Con convener) en route to the venue. His animation film was billed to be screened at the venue. My cousin Moses Okoli (whom I invited) was already there waiting. We all went in and got our passes and headed for the screening hall.
By the time we got to the hall, the animation film, Mosquito: The Bite Passage by US-based animators Brian Vincent Rhodes and Eric Cheng was already halfway on-screen. The three of us took our seats and went with the flow. The next animation film was POP by Nigerian animator Stephen Shima Iosun. POP is a 6-minute story about the hilarious travails a young Nigerian student faces at a cyber café, whilst trying to get some information online. It was a properly made animation film. After POP was screened, a question and answer session commenced. And Stephen gave the audience a breakdown of how the film was made, and how much time it took in rendering the animation’s graphics. Most of the members of the audience corroborated his analysis of how tasking rendering an animation film is.
The next film was This Migrant Business, an animation film by Kenyan animator Ng’endo Mukii. It chronicles the prevalent systems that allow for the exploitation of African migrants seeking to lead better lives.
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Then it was time to screen Ayodele Elegba’s animation film Lost Dreams, but it wasn’t to be, due to a logistic mix-up. One which the cinema’s management apologized for. The film’s screening was postponed to a later date.
Ayodele Elegba and a cross-section of the audience at the animation film screenings
The next film was Agorkoli, by Ghanaian filmmaker and animator Francis Yashau Brown. It’s an 11-minute tale of the migration saga of the Ewe people in Ghana. This animation really caught my attention. It was well made. It had an exciting plot too. The question and answer session commenced right after. A female representative of Francis was on hand to answer questions from the audience. The Q and A session soon turned into a discourse on the growth of animation films in Africa and Nigeria. After that, Ayodele, Moses and me left the screening hall. That was the end of my first outing at AFRIFF 2016.
The second outing I had was at the screening of Eric Aghimien’s Slow Country. It was screened at the Silverbird Galleria. This time I went alone. O, how I wish I had brought someone along! The experience was terrific! Slow Country is an awesome action-packed movie. After the screening the question and answer session commenced. And I was privileged to be the last person to ask the director Eric Aghimien a question during the session. I asked him how he came about the movie’s title. And he said it was initially a working title, but he later let it fly as the movie’s title. Because it was catchy. When the Q and A session was over, the meet and greet session began. I met and greeted Eric Aghimien, and then Sambasa Nzeribe, who was the star of the movie. The photo op session commenced shortly afterwards. I got to take photos with Sambasa Nzeribe and some members of the audience, too.
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Due to personal engagements, I wasn’t able to attend the rest of the festival’s film screenings. But those two days were worth every moment.
Q and A session with the cast and crew of Slow Country
Thank you Chioma Ude and the rest of the organizers, for a great AFRIFF 2016!
Ebukah E. Nzeji and Sambasa Nzeribe