Welcome to the “What Sucked & What Rocked” AFRIFF edition. While the event might have been over for a week now, I just can’t seem to move on without sharing my juicy thrills of what went down at the 2014 AFRIFF.
The 2014 African International Film Festival was the film event for the year that I was looking forward to especially as an upcoming Nollywood blogger. As luck would have it, I got an all-round pass to enjoy this experience first-hand and even though it was 3days gone, I was still as excited to see all the festival had in store.
So here I go, Xplore’s “What Sucked and What Rocked at the 2014 AFRIFF”
- Lack of Coordination and Poor Logistics: Arriving at the Lagos Airport didn’t take any time; in fact I arrived at 8:15 for a 10am flight. Flight took off at 10.30am and we arrived on schedule. But I digress, what sucked wasn’t how I got to the airport or Calabar which was quiet seamless but the lack of coordination when we arrived Tinapa Lakeside Hotel which was the official accommodation for the festival. We were told that the hotel was fully booked and had to move to another hotel which was just like the Tinapa, but we were in for a shocker, when we arrived at the Country Lake Hotel. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we were moved 2 more times. You know how you arrive at a hotel room, unpack and settle in and then pack up again 3 times, it was exhausting and totally draining.
As luck would have it, this was the only thing that truly sucked about the AFRIFF! So for the future, this noose would have to be tightened and handled better.
- Seminars: Arriving 3days after the event had started did nothing to dampen my mood. Once I had settled in, I attended my first seminar titled ‘Film Marketing and its Importance.’ It was coordinated by Uzoma Onwuchekwa the commercial director of Ebony LifeTV. With his wealth of experience in advertising, he describe how filmmakers can go ahead to market, advertise and carry out PR services for their films that transcends just the normal publicity and it is guaranteed to offer maximum returns. I was totally enthusiastic about his presentation (there’s hope for me here) and it was at also at this point that it dawned on me, omo, making film is serious business oh!!! Asides this session, I also attended the “Restless Pitch” presentation, where upcoming producers/directors are required to pitch their creative ideas to a top panel made up of CEO Ebony LifeTV, Mo Abudu, CEO Film House Cinemas, Kene Mkparu, Managing Director MNET, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu and other panelists. There were the hits and obvious misses, knowing that these participants spent 3 hours in a session where they were drilled on how to present just further made me worried at the kind of directors and producers that were coming into the industry. At the end of the “Restless Pitch” Eric Aghimien, director of ‘A Mile from Home’ won consultation time with some of the panelist.
- The Parties: What is a get-together of all the celebrities without a party or that tagline “what happens in Tinapa, stays in Tinapa.” From the ‘VIP party’, to the ‘Pool party’ and then ‘After party’ OMG, we partied for hours, waking up at 10am sometimes 12noon the next day. I got to see some of the celebrities in their element and it felt surreal. Who knew Belinda Effah could play volleyball or Deyemi Okanlanwon could dance Azonto or Rita Dominic could rock the shoki. They were all in the coolest form and it felt good to be in their mists.
- Networking & Conversations: As one of the biggest gatherings of popular Nollywood acts; newbies and veterans alike as well as other African acts, it was exciting to be there. I struck conversations with acts I had only reviewed their movies and I would like to say, they are very, very real. Not only did I speak to them I definitely got contact details that I wouldn’t have imagined I could get. One of the best conversation for me were with CEO Film House Cinemas, Kene Mkparu, Veteran Actor and now director Francis Onwochei, Actor Femi Jacobs, Eno Jerry, Upcoming Costume designer, Actress Lala Akindojolu, Actress Kiki Omeli and Director Tunde Kelani. There were some awkward conversations that I would not like to mention here, but for those peeps, you know yourselves.
- Line up of Films: What is a film festival without films (before you guys feel I went only to faff around) bah? I had a line-up of shorts and features I wanted to see, but time wasn’t a friend. I ended up seeing Invasion 1897 (I had seen Dazzling Mirage and October 1 already), I was pulled out of Moses Inyang’s ‘Last 3 Digits” (logistics issues) and I also saw the following shorts: Blink, Oblivious, Portrait of a Farmer, Vengeance is mine, I-Bemsi and Predators Paradise. Not a bad line-up for a JJC to the festival so yay!!!
- Closing Ceremony and Awards: On the eve of our departure and the formal closing of the festival, the awards ceremony took place. As I was now staying at the Tinapa Lakeside Hotel (finally), as evening came, I noticed stylists, hair dressers and make-up artists walking briskly in the lobby to the various rooms to start preparations for the stars. At 8.30pm, the stars strutted in the lobby in their various designer outfits to the venue. My favorite for the night for the ladies were: Rita Dominic, Genevieve Nnaji, Uru Eke, Osas Ighodalo and Kemi ‘Lala’ Akinduju. For the males, Ramsey Nouah, Gideon Okeke, Gbenro Ajibade and Deyemi Okanlanwon. We arrived the Calabar Cultural Center which was abuzz with media interviews and various activities and went straight to the theatre styled hall. It wasn’t draped or anything fancy, nothing major stood out, but I believe the attention for the night wasn’t the hall décor, but the awards. Now don’t get me wrong, the hall might have been simple, but there was a good play of technology which I feel other Nollywood Awards can borrow a leaf from. Once the First Lady of CRS (Cross Rivers State) arrived, the event kicked off.
- Performances: There were electrifying performances for this event that left me spell bound. There’s this thought that performances outside of Lagos doesn’t hold much water, but I can confidently say, that this wasn’t the case for the AFRIFF Awards. From the choreographed dancers that glowed in the dark, the magician or should I say illusionist who performed his tricks and got us wondering and definitely thinking, then another performer who gave a good rendition of Katy Perry’s ‘Black Horse’ and performed with only an electric guitar, a cello and a drum. All these wonderful acts with no names (now that was a damn shame!), were great.
- Awards: The Awards and winners were well deserved. As presenters were called, they delivered to their task, handed winners their trophies it was all very short and straight to the point. Guess what, no promoter! Just good old fashion rehearsals and more rehearsals, till it becomes good. The winners of the night were: Best Feature Film – October 1; Best Nigerian Feature – Ojuju by CJ Obasi; Best Male Performance; Sadiq Daba in October 1; Best Female Performance – Thishiwe Ziqubu in Hard to Get; Best director – Andrew Dosunmu; Best Screenplay–October 1; Best Documentary – The Supreme Price by Johanna Lipper; Best Short Film – Stiff by Samantha Nell; Best Student Short –Aissa’s Story by Iquo Essien’s; Outstanding Jury Award – Om Amira Bu Naji Ismail; Audience Choice –Gone Too Far by Destiny Ekaragha. Asides the different categories and awards, there was also the announcement of 10 lucky students who would be heading to the United States to further horn their skills in the art of film making, scripting, cinematography, directing and much more. This was another aspect of the night that I was proud of the festival and their goal to move the industry forward.
- Sponsors: Don't think i have ever seen a synergy like i saw at the AFRIFF and i would really like to say kudos to the sponsors. Cross Rivers State Government was amazing, Tinapa Lakeside Hotel - big-ups, Arik (Wow) who knew one can get 2 planes dedicated to transporting participants, Film House, Ebony Life, DSTV, 360nobs.com, stylevita.com, the list is endless, you guys deserve a big hug for what you have contributed to this event and the film industry at large.
That Awkward Moment:
Now as the name implies, there were moments during the awards ceremony that I just couldn’t believe my eyes and here are some of those moments.
That Awkward Moment:-
- When producers and directors don’t mind filling our ears with the fact that their productions either cost next to nothing or they were pretty expensive. Case in point, Kunle Afolayan who told everyone that cared to listen that October 1 cost him $2million dollars which is N200million or CJ Obasi whose production cost him N1, 500 he said!
- When Uru Eke acknowledges the First Lady of Cross Rivers State and doesn't acknowledge her husband the Executive Governor who is sitting right next to her.
- When Gideon has mumbled a speech backstage, calls Nollywood veterans Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Kate Henshaw and Ramsey Nouah for special recognition and then adds Rita Dominic (who happens to be the Goodwill ambassador for the festival) as an addendum!!!
- When the First Lady of Cross Rivers State mentions to the recipients of the recognition award with the audience listening “my husband fancies one of you.” Like we really, really want to know.
It’s been my pleasure sharing this with you, join me again for another episode of Xplore’s “What Sucked and What Rocked”