AFRIFF 2016 Corner

AFRIFF Day 2: Nollywood – Distribution, Branding and the view on Great Filmmaking

Day 2 of the ongoing Africa International Film Festival proved to be an exciting one, kicking off with film screenings across Filmhouse IMAX cinemas, Genesis Cinemas Lekki and Silverbird Galleria, V.I.

Industry sessions discussing topics like Creative Distribution, The Film Maker – His Brand and His Works and a session discussing the success of ‘Comedy’ in African Cinema were also held at the Genesis Cinemas. While these sessions provide a great avenue for idea sharing and creative interaction, there was a general lack of synergy that emanated from the panels which led to somewhat disjointed conversations for the most part.

The most important take home I believe though was the need for the ‘Nollywood’ Brand to Identify all stakeholders to the brand and for these stakeholders to define a vision and purpose for ‘Nollywood’. Only with this vision and purpose can the stakeholders pursue a connected goal to move the industry in the right direction.

This is very text book and will most likely not be an easy task (c’mon its been said over and over) – it even gets compounded by the lack of adequate structures to support practitioners in the industry and the level of individual effort each practitioner puts into his / her craft – however, it is a necessary step for the additional development the industry needs to unlock more of its commercial potential.

Other important thoughts centered around more collaboration between African filmmakers and stakeholders, especially the creation of proper distribution channels across the continent to aid with the seamless flow of content to a variety of audiences and cross border funding to enable filmmakers access funds in other African countries for their projects. Interestingly, an example of the Hollywood model was given by the CEO of Filmone, Mr. Kene Mpkaru, where he identified that Hollywood blockbusters understand the need to cast actors from other major movie markets including India, China, UK, even Nigeria to allow the audiences in those markets identify more with a film and to increase marketability across the world. While we have an example of this in Kunle Afolayan’s the CEO, I am not very certain if he has successfully premiered the movie in the countries of all his lead cast – I guess I better ask him before the festival is over.

Last note from the discussions was the panel on the success of comedy in Nollywood, with A.Y’s two movies being prime examples – he’s latest endeavor was just announced to have grossed more than the ₦163 million 30 Days in Atlanta made during its cinema run. While I respect A.Y as business man who understands his market and what to give them, he makes his films enjoyable albeit slapstick, and as a lover of film who appreciates the craft, I will not be categorizing any of his films as ‘brilliant films’. This is not to take away from his craft, its just the same way I’m not going to call Hangover, 22 Jump Street, or even Transformers ‘brilliant’ films.

These films are commercial films that know what they are and stick to what they are, there is no pretense to it. Therefore, it would definitely be unfair to the progression Nollywood desires as an industry to label its successful films mainly based on box office receipts. In my opinion, a balance must be established between funny and creative to draw the audience in, a consistent flow of these ‘balanced’ films and a culture by filmmakers to decide on distribution networks that draw a middle ground between maximum profitability and maximum reach will go a long way to endear the market to new Nollywood and improve receipts in the long term…. but what do I know.

P.S. I also saw two good films, N.G.O and The Cursed Ones… I’m gonna do a review for both next but if you have a chance, do go see the second screening of N.G.O at the Filmhouse IMAX cinemas Lekki, this Wednesday at 5.30pm.

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