Africa Film Academy and the Bank of Industry jointly hosted a session on Nollywood at the just concluded Toronto International Film Festival.
The session which was tagged, Nollywood: A fresh Perspective in Filmmaking which took place at the Ballroom of the Omni-Edward Hotel, Toronto had the Lagos State Attorney General & Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Bank of Industry General Manager on Enterprises, Mr. Joseph Babatunde, Bank of Industry Head of Nollywood Fund, Mrs. Uche Nwoka, Special Adviser on Arts & Culture to Lagos State Governor, Hon. Adebimpe Akinsola, President of Association of Movie Producers, Mr. Ralph Nwadike, Nollywood Actresses/Directors, Uche Jombo, Omoni Oboli, Nigerian and United Kingdom based Actor, Wale Ojo and many others as participants and speakers.
In the very animated session, the Bank of Industry in the presentation made by Mr. Joseph Babatunde told participants the level of investments the bank has made to create huge business for the entrepreneurs in the sector and also the film makers.
Babatunde told the audience how the bank has given funds to Filmone, Silverbird Galleria, Ozone Cinemas and others to build cinemas across Nigeria and this investment has brought back the cinema culture in Nigeria with most Nigerian films grossing huge box office revenues.
“We are proud to say that with the BOI support Nigeria now has over 130 screens in 29 Cinemas from what used to be under 30 screens before. We have invested in Studios too for production so that our film makers can do their post-production work in Nigeria. We have given money to 4 studios. We have also developed framework for funding of community cinemas and we believe this will provide more channels for our producers to make money from their films,” Babatunde said.
In his presentation, Adeniji noted that the Lagos State Government will continue to support the industry through the right policies and incentives that are possible at the state level adding that the issue of co-production treaty with other countries which Nigeria is currently lacking or has not signed are not within the purview of states but only on the exclusive list for Federal Government.
The Attorney General however promised that Lagos, as the home of Nollywood and entertainment in Nigeria will begin to push the Federal government to adopt treaties that will make the industry grow and attract investments and co-productions with professionals from other countries.
“I can assure you that my office and that of the Ministry of Information will make presentation to the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and that of Minister of Information to seek ways the Federal Government can sign and domesticate some of the treaties that we need, to deepen the growth of this sector. I am aware that Canada for example has co-production treaty for film making with over 50 countries and Nigeria is not one of them. What this means is that film makers from Canada cant come and shoot their films in Lagos or any part of Nigeria.”
Actresses who have also gone into film production and directing, Uche Jombo, Omoni Oboli and Ufuoma Mcdermoth had a very fierce engagement with the Lagos State Government officials on the need for the state to provide security for filmmakers during movie shoots, reduce taxes and urgently set up a one-stop film office in Lagos State where filmmakers can get all the permits they need in the state as the present structure is very cumbersome and tedious.
“‘Area boys make demands that are almost impossible on us. Shooting movies in Lagos is becoming a hell with area boys. And we have to pay at every point or they damage our equipment. This is a major security problem we have in Lagos and we want the government to look into this,”Jombo said among other things.
In his response, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ayorinde said that the state used to have a Film Office under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and efforts will be made to see how the office will be brought back and repositioned to meet the current yearning of the film makers operating in the state and on security, the commissioner said that the state is working harder to ensure the streets of Lagos become safer for residents and businesses doing legitimate business.
Ayorinde however refuted the allegation by Oboli that the state government didn’t support the filmmakers whose films were selected under the City To City programme of the Toronto Film Festival which was a spotlight on Lagos State and those making films in the state.
“We sponsored 20 people to this festival and the 20 people include journalists and some of the Guild leaders. This is about the best the state can do at this time. We also provided the Lagos Pavilion where delegates from Nigeria can converge and network with other professionals around the world. I will like to say some of the support Omoni talked about should come from the Federal Government through the Censors Board and Nigeria Film Corporation. As a state, Lagos has done very well coming to TIFF.”
In her submission, the founder of Africa Film Academy, Ms. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe reiterated the importance of synergy in the creative sector especially among Nollywood practitioners. She recalled how disunity has made it impossible for Nollywood to have a film Village in Lagos.
“Since 2003, former Governor Bola Tinubu during a meeting we had with him at Eko Hotel approved land for Nollywood for a film Village in Lagos. He asked us to choose where we want the land between Epe and Badagry. Till date we have not been able to access the land because different groups and individuals will go to Alausa with letters that they are the authentic Nollywood. I don’t understand how people claim ownership of an industry. We must work together and with government to get all the institutional supports we need through policies and legislation. We need government to fight piracy and we also need to push government to sign co-production treaties with other countries.
The Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos on Arts & Culture, Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola also reinforced the call for unity in the sector.
“’Our experience with the industry with different people and groups demanding for different things has been a very tasking one. The industry professionals need to come together and speak with one voice. I want to let you know the land the former Governor approved for Film Village is still available and the State Government is willing and ready to work with the industry.”