From the 5th to 11th of November 2023. Chioma Ude and her team of exceptional creatives hosted the rest of the world to a festival of shinning stars, so to speak. I was in attendance, and as it was my first film Festival, I was a bit blown away at the level of organization and presentation that was on ground.
I saw and spoke with several guests at the festival, many of whom were coming to Nigeria and Africa for the first time and are established industry players in their respective nations. Many of them were impressed by the festivity and display of cultural diversity they witnessed.
When they return to their nations, this is what they will be talking about; how Lagos was an excellent place, how much fun the they had, the food, clothes, accents and diversity that were on display. They would also talk about the movies they saw, as a huge number of movies that were screened were either produced by Nigerians or in Nigeria.
MARKETING IN THE GLOBAL STAGE
“See Paris and die” is an excellent catchphrase that is propelled by the French government. Simply put, the catchphrase refers to seeing Paris as the ultimate human achievement. Today, Paris is the world’s foremost leading tourist destination. Many tourists in Paris only get to see the great parts of france. Only on rare occasions, and sometimes by paid pipers would you see tourists write about crime, about suicides, about portholes, about corruption. The PR machine of France is perpetually in motion, ensuring that tourists enjoy their stay as much as is possible in Paris, as well as other cities.
This is also applicable in Dubai, in Ontario, in Rio de Janeiro, in London, in Seoul and in Madrid. Even the few people allowed in Pyonyang report that they were given a presidential treatment. And that is what foreign guests at the African International Film Festival received.
It’s undeniable that the allure of global destinations often comes wrapped in a veil of enchantment, and carefully orchestrated by meticulous PR campaigns. This artistry in presentation, obscures the complexities that exist within these places. Behind the grandeur lies the mundane, the challenges, and the unspoken stories that seldom make it to the glossy brochures or travel blogs. The African International Film Festival, like many exclusive events, offered a curated experience, ensuring a presidential treatment for its foreign guests, showcasing the best of African cinema while veiling some of the region’s challenges. This duality, the interplay between promotion and reality, is a fascinating facet of global tourism.
I was happy the Lagos state government was part of the sponsors of the program. Seeing Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the red carpet showed his awareness on what was on ground. The Festival was not only to sell Nollywood actors and movies, it was to sell the state and the country.
Most of the guests are creatives, and when they go back, they would definitely talk about their experiences at the festival. Many of them have billions of followers, and it is speculatively academic the impressions their social media posts will generate.
These guys will not go back talking about traffic (they were predominantly on the Island for the weeklong bazaar, and the Island is relatively free from the traffic hassle. They will not be talking about the crime rate, epileptic power supply and bad roads. No they will not, because that is not what they experienced.
Their narratives would be focused solely on their pleasant experience of the festival and Lagos. This is why patriotic Nigerians ought to collectively support the industry.
The United States of America is where it is today because of a number of factors, but chiefly due to its economic prowess and PR. No industry comes close in PR like the United states. Nigeria will be there, but how soon we achieve this depends on how much support we give to Nollywood now.