By Benjamin Njoku for Vanguard
After a week-long line up of activities, this year’s edition of the prestigious Africa International Film Festival, AFRIFF, ended last Saturday with a call on the practitioners in the film sector in Africa to use their crafts to sell Africa to the rest of the world.
The closing ceremony for the festival started on Friday evening with the screening of the film, Road to Yesterday, starring Genevieve Nnaji and actor Oris Erhuero among others. Genevieve Nnaji, who stars as the conflicted wife, Victoria Udoka, called the closing night gala “an honour” as she graced the red carpet at Genesis Deluxe Cinema alongside co-stars Oris Erhuero, Chioma ‘Chigul’ Omeruah, and Ebele Okaro as well as the film’s director and co-writer Ishaya Bako.
Bako, whose series of highly acclaimed festival favourites, including the award winning “Braids on a Bald Head” said it is “amazing” to be given the honour to close the festival.
He said: “AFRIFF is a very important part of our industry. Nigerians are great producers of film so I’m thrilled that our movie was given such an honour.” The festival heightened activities at Eko Hotels and Suites, Silverbird Galleria, Genesis Deluxe, and City Mall, all in Victoria Island had screened 180 movies, staged several industry sessions and provided workshops of all kinds for filmmakers from 35 African countries and 25 non-African countries who converged on Lagos. The curtain was brought down on Saturday with a star-studded awards night which held at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The awards ceremony started with a presentation to notable Nigerian music video director, Clarence Peters, who the Special jury prize for his first short film, Hex.
But the Short film award was clinched by Cameroonian filmmaker, Christa Eka Assam, for her latest work entitled Alma.
Assam who said she has been attending the festival in the last three years was full of praise for the jury and organizers of the festival for providing a platform to prove herself. Clarence too, felt good that the jury recognized his effort as a first-time filmmaker to have earned the Special Recognition award. While thanking his cast and crew, he dedicated the award to his mum, Clarion Chukwura, saying, “I want to dedicate this award to my mum because without her I won’t be here today.”
Following Peters’ Special Recognition Award by the jury was a Nigerian filmmaker, Tolu Ajayi who also got a Special Mention by the jury for his film, “The Encounter.”The ovation was loudest when Fevers by Moroccan filmmaker, Hicham Ayouch won the overall Best Film.
Other films that won awards were “Silent Tears” by Ishaya Bako (Audience Choice Awards), “Legacy of Rubies” by Ebele Okoye(Best Animation), “Joy” by Solomon Onita Jr. (Best Student Short Film), “E18hteam” by Juan Rodriguez-Briso (Best Documentary), Reflections by Desmond Elliot (Oronto Douglas Award for Best Nigerian Film) and The Price of Love (Best Screenplay)
In the individual categories, Raja Amari won Best Director, while South African actors; Charlie Vundla and Fulu Makhovami won Best Actor and Best Actress for their roles in Cuckold Ayanda respectively. The night was also spiced with music performances by Cobhams Asuquo and Timi Dakolo. While Cobhams performed ‘Cock Crow At Dawn’ originally sang by Bongos Ikwe, Timi Dakolo started off with Cry, in memory of the late patron of AFRIFF and Special Adviser on Research and Documentation to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Oronto Douglas, before performing Wish Me Well to the delight of audience.
The jurors who also got a loud ovation from the crowd include Pedro Pimenta, Soheir Abdel Kader, Prof Hyginus Ekwuazi, Teddy Mattera, Dr Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, Dapo Oshiyemi, Serge-Armand Kouami Noukoue and Asha Lovelace. AFRIFF’s 5th edition kicked off last Sunday with the premiere of Mediterranea by Jonas Carpignano. There were also industry sessions where practitioners jaw-jawed on the way forward as well as training sessions for student filmmakers. The awards night was graced by the who is who in Nollywood. Leading the stars on the night was Genevieve Nnaji and Hilda Dokubo. Others were Dakore Egbuson Akande, Ini Edo, Ugeze.U.Ugeze, Kunle Afolayan, Tope Tedela, Toke Makinwa, Toni Tones, Rita Dominic, Mildred Okwo, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Grace Oboba Edwin-Okon, O. C. Ukeje, Ramsey Nuoah, Igwe Gabosky, Charles Novia, and Kemi Lala Akindoju among others.