Fresh from an eventful festival I attended earlier, I had a lot of expectations going into the Edo State International Film Festival, and here are ten things I learnt, in no particular order:
1. TIME: Clearly, it was almost as if the organizers were too keen on displaying “African Time” to the guests, especially from overseas. I don’t think there is another explanation for the unnecessary delays that happened during the opening and closing ceremonies. It took over two hours for the opening ceremony scheduled for 6pm to finally commence, by which time many of the guests had angrily left. Also, I noticed many of the master classes did not kick off as scheduled, and by the third day, many of the events just had people who were just coming to experience the festivities and the environment, nothing else.
2. INNOVATIVE TAGS: I was happy that as soon as I reported at the reception, I was directed to a group of ESIFF staff who accredited me and gave me a tag that bore a unique identifier, a special number that only I could use. This is a step forward and is quite innovative. For example, people stole tags in a festival I attended, while others who lost theirs had no way to get another tag. Using this technique can allow people who have lost theirs to go back to the reception to get theirs.
3. ACCEPTANCE AND GROWTH: The Festival’s main purpose was to promote as many Edo talent as possible, as such, there were a lot of movies and short films screened at the Festival, living up to the expectation of promoting these talents. It felt good to see a festival filled with hundreds of young filmmakers who were enthusiastic about their movies being screened. One of them even shouted “That’s me” as his short film was being screened. We gave him a round of applause at the end of it.
4. QUALITY: The drawback of trying to promote as much talent as possible is that, many mediocre movies are allowed to be screened. Seriously, almost 500 films were screened in 3 days, and if I am being honest, 50% of the movies I saw had no business at the festival. The organizers must look into this for the version 3.0 and ensure they have a good team of people who would screen the movies and ensure they do all they can to ensure they raise the standards, because if they don’t, then filmmakers would not raise their standards too, and this will ultimately be a drawback to the festival’s drive. The Festival’s committee claimed they received over 3000 entries from over 80 countries, and it would surely increase next year. So must their standards.
5. LOCATION: There were different locations used for this festival, Kada Cinema, Deepend Cinema and VUCH Performance Theatre. This afforded people the opportunity of going to the cinemas closest to them to get a feel of the festivities. Also, Genesis Cinema was used for selected programs, alongside other locations like the Victor Uwaifo Hub, and even the State Government House.
6. POLITICAL: Taking nothing away from the state government’s good job at the festival, I feel that the festival was heavily politicized. This was sadly too evident as the opening ceremony was delayed for over two hours because the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki failed to show up on time. Talk about setting good example. I also read of an event from the event’s program “Industry Mixer & Awards” hosted by the State governor’s wife, Mrs. Betty Obaseki.
7. RUDE AND UNCOOPERATIVE CREW A ND VENDORS: Many of the crew gave fatigued responses to simple questions. Some were rude and condescending, while the rest just feigned ignorance at simple questions that would have saved guests the stress of walking around and asking questions like fools. I mean, the organizing crew should have answers at the back of their palm, well rehearsed. They should also be willing to help. The vendors were worse. It was almost as they were sent to the event to look down on filmmakers. I remember asking for tickets to the closing ceremony, and was directed to a group of vendors who instead of saying they were not in charge of that, loudly asked me to step out of their canopy and read what is on their canopy. If they had poured stale piss on me, I could have managed the embarrassment better.
8. LAST MINUTE CHANGES: On the Festival’s programme, it clearly shows that all filmmakers and invited delegates are to be allowed into the closing ceremony red carpet, main show and award ceremony. But to my chargrin, the bouncers all but physically threw me out when I simply asked to be allowed inside. It was when I asked why they told me I ought to have a ticket. Seriously? And nobody told me? Almost all the crew started tossing me from one spot to another until I approached a group of ladies who had tickets. They told me they work for Edojobs, and that their office secured it for them. How come civil servants are allowed into the ceremony, and the Senior Writer, Events, Lifestyle and Culture of Inside Nollywood is denied access even when I explained I work in Abuja and had visited the festival. This is akin to bouncing Marca’s headwriter out of the Ballon d’Or ceremony because you needed to accommodate some staff of the French ministry of agriculture.
9. A STEP FORWARD: Whichever way you look at this, this is a step forward for the industry, and young filmmakers from Edo State, particularly. There is also a very big room for improvement. Hopefully, the organizers took note.
10. RECOGNITION: Nollywood is finally getting its flowers. For decades, Nollywood stars toiled and got little rewards for their toil. Today, international recognition is here, and it is only a matter of time before we hit diamonds.