Close-up with KC Ejelonu
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The African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) has got to be one of the best film festivals I have attended in Nigeria. The first time I heard about the festival was in 2013 when I got an invitation to attend the one-week event in Calabar. I was blown away by what the entire team put together. The founder and driver of AFRIFF is the intelligent, articulate, fun and loving lady Chioma Ude.
We have seen four amazing years of great films, four amazing years of training, four amazing years of networking, four amazing years of partnership, four amazing years of fun and excitement and lastly four amazing years of great people and great relationships. These are exciting times for the team, students, filmmakers, producers, directors, marketers and friends of AFRIFF because as each year passes, the festival grows bigger and better. Most importantly, we continue to present a platform for the film industry to flourish according to Chioma.
This year’s edition, which is the fourth, took place in Tinapa, Calabar. I had never been to Calabar until I was invited for AFRIFF and I fell in love with the beautiful city with its good roads, music, friendly people and of course the food. I visited “atimbo” with some of my colleagues and we had a great time.
The core value for AFRIFF has always been “Africa Unites” and this year was not an exception. The festival draws on principles that being African is a bond that goes beyond geography, birth or lineage as people of African origin are spread across the globe and Africa is also a proud home to many non-Africans, according to Chioma.
I experienced Africans coming together as one during the festival this year. It was a great experience networking with other African directors, producers and actors and also watching their films and seeing what and how their own stories are been told.
The film festival is not just for filmmakers and actors; getting students involved is amazing. While I was a student I never got this opportunity or experience and seeing the young students have this now, I know the future is bright because AFRIFF is setting that foundation for them so they can go further in gaining more knowledge and experience.
According to Chioma, the festival places great emphasis on the youth and capacity building. The seminars and workshops for the youth such as acting, script writing, pitching, distribution and engaging keynotes conversations are just some of the ways in which the festival is supporting everyone involved in the film industry.
Rita Dominic became the ambassador again for the festival and I believe Chioma and her team made the perfect choice. It’s hard to see an older colleague who is committed in making sure she knows not just the faces of the younger generation but makes it her responsibility to guard us. I say “us” because she is not just an ambassador to, but a mentor, guardian and sister.
Another amazing soul is Kate Henshaw. We missed her full time presence this year but she stopped by few times and I know I miss her so much.
Ok I better not get all emotional now and talk about the “fun” aspect of AFRIFF. Everyday was fun, not just the parties but also the seminars, the screenings, our times together while we are having breakfast. Let me just say there was never a dull moment.
Thanks to the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke; his beautiful wife, Her Excellency, Obioma Liyel-Imoke, and the great people of the state. Also, big thanks to Chioma and the entire team of AFRIFF for a great experience.