Saturday, June 7, 2008

Second Chinese Film Week Holds In Jos

The second in the series of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria sponsored Chinese Film Week began this week in Jos, Plateau State capital, from June 5th, 2008.
The Nigerian Film Corporation/National Film Institute, both in Jos, are collaborating with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for the second edition which is designed to engender exchange of cultural values and cinematic expression between Nigeria and China. The Chinese Film Week will also provide a platform for the consolidation of bilateral relations between the governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that of the People’s Republic of China, especially in film production, tourism and commerce.
The Embassy’s cultural counsellor, Mr. Jiang Weiming, has promised that this year’s edition of the Film Week would be an improvement on last year’s edition, assuring that the Embassy would continue to partner the NFC for the sustenance of the yearly event. To ensure a successful 2008 Chinese Film Week, the Chinese Embassy is rolling out materials and financial support to be complemented by the Nigerian Film Corporation.
The Chinese Film Week is a collaborative event between the NFC and the China Embassy in Nigeria. It is designed to explore cultural exchange and entertainment opportunities between both nations, using film as a vehicle.
It would be recalled that the first in the series was held last year, at the National Film Institute, Jos. This year’s edition is the second, and it is expected to be better than the first edition.
The Chinese Film Week is the second in the line up of film weeks for the year. The French Week was held in March this year, and that of Spain will be held later in the month of June.
Meanwhile, Afolabi Adesanya, NFC’s managing director, has commended the Chinese Embassy’s efforts in sustaining the film week, which he says has provided the required platform for partnership development in the areas of equipment, resource support and manpower training. So far, the NFC has received from the Chinese Embassy, DVD films, Cine-projectors, books, DVD players and recently, scholarship for a staff of the National Film Institute, Mr. Yomi Olugbodi, who is already in Beijing, China for a doctorate degree in Film Studies. Also, a staff of NFC, Mrs. Halima Oyedele, was sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce to attend the African Female Capacity Building Conference which was held recently in Beijing, China.

In LEADERSHIP of June 07, 2008

CANNES' Red Carpet: The Jury’s Last Word

At the end of the closing ceremony, the jury explained the award selections during a special press conference. President, Sean Penn and jurors Jeanne Balibar, Alexandra Maria Lara, Natalie Portman, Marjane Satrapi, Rachid Bouchareb, Sergio Castellitto, Alfonso Cuarón and Apichatpong Weerasethakul answered questions from journalists.

-Sean Penn explained the first choice:
"We all wondered about that as we all have had films in festivals before, and the concern about placement and so on. My own view is that I truly believe that our response would have been the same at any point during the festival. The generosity of this picture just reaches out and I don't think it has anything to do with scheduling."

- Sean Penn on why Waltz with Bashir did not garner any prizes:
"I was happy to find out that buzzes mean nothing; this Jury was entirely not influenced and I can tell you that I would agree with you, but we had only so many prizes to give. There were several people - myself inclusive - who found it a worthy film. As I said during the ceremony, there were things that called out, and there were times when we felt that we had almost a certain category fulfilled and then something else would come and provoke us in a different way. There's not a good answer to this question. Even though I did not particularly argue for it ultimately, I think it was a wonderful film. I also believe that it is a film that is going to find its audience with or without us."

-Marjane Satrapi, on the Palme d'Or:
"We all fell in love with it immediately. It's a film that goes beyond bad neighbourhoods, beyond schools, to raise the real question of democracy, of all these people who live together. What's more, it doesn't give any answers. Often [in a film], you see a teacher who miraculously settles all the problems at the end. This film doesn't give any answers, but it contains all the questions that are troubling people. I'm also impressed by the quality of the acting and the obvious realism. I was a fervent admirer of this film."

-Sean Penn on the Palme d'Or:
"One of the reasons that we agreed unanimously on the Palme d'Or - we start with the art of film. And in that integration and completeness of integration: virtually a seamless film. All of the performances: magic. All of the writing: magic. All of the provocations, and all of the generosity: magic. It's simply everything that you want a film to give you. On top of that, because of the things that it takes on, and the issues that it confronts, and the timeliness of them, in a world that, everywhere you go, hungers for education and for a voice - it just touched us so deeply."

-Alfonso Cuaron on the reach of the film:
"This is one of those rare films in which we're talking about high cinema that you can share with really young audiences. That is what it has to say, in the world in which we are living. They are going to be the ones who will be in charge of finding solutions, in the very difficult world they are inheriting."

-Sergio Castellito on the Palme d'Or:
"As I watched this film, I thought of myself as a father, speaking to my son's teachers. That gives the film a universal social reach, without any loss to its poetry. It's a film that seems to have been shot live, that lasts two hours, and covers a one-year period. This narrative quality is amazing."

-Sean Penn on the 61st Festival de Cannes Award:
"I think that they [Catherine Deneuve and Clint Eastwood] and others are largely, for many of us, why we got into film. When people like that who have lived within cinema for a very long time, and are still inventive and expressive, practicing their craft on even a higher level than perhaps they previously did, it's the kind of encouragement that makes film happen. I won't say that we felt indebted, it's just in a form that by definition has artifice to it. It would be so artificial not to acknowledge them and the weight that their work and their presence brought this festival."

-Jeanne Balibar on the Palme d'Or: "I was grateful to this film for not leaving out any contradictions. I was grateful to this director for never claiming to have resolved them, either for the people on the screen, the audience, or French society. I think he exposes them, in all their violence. It might be the most violent film we saw. In my opinion, the highest expression of art is in contradiction, with its harsh truth and its hope."

-Sergio Castellito on the two Italian films that got awards:
"I thought of these two films as being twins in the same belly. They complement each other, in a way. We members of the jury were all wondering what a Western civilian democracy, right in Europe, can hide. I think both of these directors succeeded in taking a good, hard look, for all of us."
Special prize
The jury also created a special 61st festival prize and gave it to two veterans doing work that Penn characterised as "so rare and so important." One recipient was Catherine Deneuve, star of Arnaud Desplechin's marvelous ‘A Christmas Tale,’ a multi-generational drama centered on a gorgeously fractious family that comes together for a memorable Christmas-week reunion. Unexpected but still made squarely in the French humanistic tradition, this is a film you don't want to end, not because the characters are so happy but because they are so human and so alive.
The other recipient was Clint Eastwood for directing ‘Changeling,’ a dark, yet hopeful drama, made with his trademark assurance and storytelling skill. Eastwood was not present to accept his award, while Deneuve said she was "very touched" by hers.
The festival's remaining two awards went to a pair of Cannes veterans. The best screenplay prize was given to Belgium's Dardenne brothers for their ‘Lorna's Silence,’ about a young Albanian woman wrestling with her conscience. And the best director award went to Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan for his formal beautiful "Three Monkeys." Taking the Camera d'Or for best first film was ‘Hunger,’ a look at the 1981 hunger strike in Northern Ireland directed by Turner Prize-winning video artist Steve McQueen.
The non-winning competition film most deserving of recognition was the Israeli animated documentary ‘Waltz With Bashir,’ directed by Ari Folman. Dealing with Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon in an often surreal way, this haunted, haunting film is aesthetically adventurous and passionately committed to the cause of peace.
The official Jury of this 61st Festival de Cannes, presided over by Sean Penn, revealed the Prize winners during the closing Ceremony of May 25. It ended with French movie ‘The Class’ winning the coveted Palme d'Or award for best film.
The following are the prizes won in the competition in Feature film category:
•Palme d'Or
Entre Les
•Grand Prix
•Prize of the 61st Festival de Cannes ex-aequo
-Catherine Deneuve for UN CONTE DE NOËL by Arnaud DESPLECHIN
-Clint Eastwood for THE EXCHANGE
•Award for the Best Director
Üç Maymun
•Jury Prize
Il Divo
•Prix d'interprétation masculine
Benicio Del Toro for Che by Steven SODERBERGH
•Best Performance for an Actor
Benicio Del Toro for Che by Steven SODERBERGH
•Best Performance for an Actress
Sandra Corveloni for LINHA DE PASSE by Walter SALLES, Daniela THOMAS
•Award for the Best Screenplay
•Le Prix Vulcain de l'Artiste-Technicien
Luca Bigazzi and Angelo Raguseo for IL DIVO by Paolo SORRENTINO.
Short Films' award in the competition
•Palme d'OrA 15 minutes movie, MEGATRON by a Romanian director, Marian Crisan won the coveted Palme d'Or award in short film category. It was a story of a village boy living with his mother who goes to McDonald's in Bucharest for his eight birthday, but longs to meet his father who lives in the city.
•Jury Prize
•Heart Throb Jury Prize
•Camera d'Or for Best First Movie

Meanwhile, African film makers who attended the feast look forward to seeing African movies being screened for entries into the main pool of the competition in the subsequent editions. The biggest question now is, will Nigeria as the giant of Africa and also the third largest film producing country in world be there at Cannes?

Published in LEADERSHIPWEEKEND June 07, 2008

Cannes’ Competitive Edge:African film makers’ experience

Late start of the international film festival annoys delegates as Nigerians yell for more entries, reports LEADERSHIP’s AL-AMIN CIROMA, who is in Cannes, France
Cannes has introduced a new genre to this year’s festival: the grumble flick. The lateness in announcing the full line-up has caused multiple problems for producers, distributors, publicists, party organizers and media outlets alike.
"Everything’s late this year. We didn’t find out when our film was screening until just last week, which meant we had to rush like hell to arrange things – flights, hotels, the party, everything," said the producer of one competition film.
Cannes is a feast of sorts; African representation in this year’s edition is enormous. Although, none of the African movies were selected for entries into the competition, but Africans took up the challenges to make it a reality as time goes on.
"I don’t know if the absence of African films in this year’s edition of the festival may be linked with the poor qualities of our productions because here in Cannes , they have their outstanding customary of standards. We need movies with good sound, good pictures and amazing stories, not just mere stories of normal daily living without suspense and originality. If Africa, we have FESPACO, what of we go there and find out that that there are no African films in the entries? Then I will not be surprised if I didn’t see African films in Cannes," said Reinaldo Barroso-Spech, president of African Diaspora Film Festival (ADFF), New York . The ADFF was created in November, 1993 by the husband and wife team of Reinaldo Barroso-Spech and Diarah N’Daw-Spech in the belief that education is power. He is an educator in foreign languages and Black Literature and she a financial consultant and university budget manager. They are of the reality that film is the truest medium for creating a fertile ground for education. The future of our communities of colour is directly tied to the expansion of our experiences, the depth and breadth of our reach and interaction with other communities and the framework from which our talent can stand front and center. The vision behind ADFF is to see an informed and talented community coming together to exchange ideas and strategies for improving their respective worlds.
According to the ADFF boss, "In our reality, people from diverse races, nationalities and backgrounds come together to enjoy important cinematic works of creativity, intellectual expansion, identity, and equality. In this world there are no boundaries around people because they are embraced in a universal understanding of humanity. This is the element of commonality that weaves through this annual event of images from Africa and the African Diaspora."
ADFF’s mission is to present African films to diverse audiences, redesign the black cinema experience, and strengthen the role of African and African descent directors in contemporary world cinema. In response to this mission, ADFF features the work of emerging and established filmmakers of color. Most important, ADFF distinguishes itself through its presentation of outstanding works that shine a different or comprehensive light on African Diaspora life and culture — no matter what the filmmaker’s race or nationality. The statement further said.
* African film makers @ Cannes speak…
(1) Gaston Kabore, a writer, producer and director. Kabore started out as a history student at the Centre d’Etudes Superieures d’Histoire d’Ouagadougou and continued his studies in Paris where he received an MA. During his studies he became interested in how Africa was portrayed abroad, which then led him, in 1974, to study cinematography at the Ecole Superieure d’Etudes Cinematographiques. Further inspiration came upon viewing Ousmane Sembene’s Xala, which he saw as an example of how film could be used to express African culture. After returning to Africa, Kabore was made director of the Centre National du Cinema and taught at the Institut African d’Education Cinematographique. Along with students under his direction there he made his first film, ‘Je Reviens De Bokin’ (I Come From Bokin). He further went on to produce practical documentaries such as 1978’s, ‘Stockez et conservez les grains’ (Store and Conserve the Grain), which focused on agrarian concerns. Another kind of documentary he made in this early period, ‘Regard sur le VI’eme FESPACO’ (A Look at the 6th FESPACO) evidenced his concern for and promotion of African film.

Kabore’s first feature, ‘Wend Kuuni’ (1982) was a breakthrough for African cinema, notably for the way it translated African oral tradition to the screen. Next, Kabore returned to address the issues surrounding African cinema with a documentary, ‘Props sur le cinema’ (Reflections on the cinema) (1986).
Another mark of Kabore’s international recognition was his participation in the film, ‘Lumière et compagnie’, in 1995 in which 40 directors from around the world were asked to make a short film with the original Cinematographer invented by the Lumiere Brothers. His most recent feature ‘Buud Yam,’ in 1997 was the 1997 grand-prize winner of the FESPACO and as writer, he wrote the same ‘Buud Yam’ and also produced ‘Cora Player,’ in 1996.
Kabore is the current proprietor of the Imagine Film Training Institute in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, the institute which according to him was not a normal school curricular institute. It was solely for young talents, it was solely catering workshops and special trainings. It habours students from various countries of Africa including Nigeria. Students from the Nigerian Film Institute (NFI), Jos with collaboration of Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN). Kabore shared his experience on Cannes as the biggest in the world of film making. But he said it is a pity Africa is not playing a major role, saying that we have to fight more and more for Africa to put its own culture in the world, "Some day it is going to grow up and flourish," he said.
(2) Mahmoud Ali Balogun, Member of Board of Trustees of Confederation of Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CMPPAN) and also a member, steering committee on Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON), a film maker, director, producer and screen play writer.
Balogun bared his mind on the state of affairs of MOPICON saying that the document is already on progress, it is now on the part of government. He said very soon it will be passed to the appropriate channel for further implementation.
Mr. Mahmoud Ali Balogun noted that after the implementation of MOPICON things will be practiced formerly, it will not be all farmers affairs again. He said, they will be a room and avenues for investment, it will further promote the motion picture industry as a whole, there won’t be sectional practice and disintegrated roles as it happens today in some states in Nigeria. MOPICON will unite all stakeholders and practitioners, protect all fundamental rights of the guilds and members. It will also move the country as a unified body because all structures will be on ground for practitioners.
For non-entry of Nigerian movies in the festival, Balogun said, "Our people need to be enlightened for the process of selection and registration. We need to produced good movies to meet up the international standard."
He gave kudos to the Federal Government for acquiring a pavilion, which serve as a home for all Africans in Cannes . It is an avenue to show case Nigeria ’s image. His words: "People do come to Nigeria’s pavilion to make inquiries. It shows that Nigeria is a film making destination and not a 419 country. Our pavilion is an information avenue about Nigeria . Government has done well for the industry. If we continue this way, many more will still come."
(3) Rachid Ferchiou, Tunisian Scenarios writer and film director, Born at October 01, 1941 in Bardo-Tunis-Tunisia. He is also the resident of the jury of 4th international festival cinema Pobre in GEBARA.CUBA for the category: Documentary, Experimental - President of the jury of the festival of the video clips, From August 8, 2006 Charm el sheik Egypt . Ferchiou produced and directed the fiction film: The Accident, TUNISIAN AND MAROCCO CO PRODUCTION, Decorated with the republic medal of Tunisian Republic ; Decorated with the culture medal of Tunisian Republic ; To date Adviser to the Cultural Ministry. He speaks German, Italian, English, French and Arab.
This veteran has 43 years’ experience in Festival du Cannes. He worked with the famous Senegalese film maker, Aboubaker Sam, Late Sambene Ousmane, Ibrahim Babi, president of Federation of Pan African Film Makers (FEPACI).
On lack of African film in the competition, he said, "Africa is a big country but small place in Cannes because we are absent in the Cannes competition. We are marginalized, there are a lot of Asian and Chinese film, but why don’t we have African films? It is not because we mainly produced in English and our indigenous languages, why do they accept Chinese films? We need to come up with modern way of film making." On the relationship of the two countries, Ferchious said Nigeria and Tunisia have many things in common. He said it is high time that the two countries come together in co-production capacity to further take the continent to the highest level.

Reader's view:

In Nigeria illegal censorship by state\'s such as Kano State is not helping matters at all. The recent incarceration of Mr. Hamisu Lamido Iyantama of Kano in the Kano Prisons is a case in point. Kano state government and it\'s agent in a show of shame forcefully removed Mr Iyantama from his office (Iyantama Multimedia) without warrant. The kano state government accused Mr. Iyantama of directing and producing the movie Tsintsiya and incorporating musical and dancing scenes in the movie. The movie has sincewon many awards and is now highly acclaimed. If the human rights and civil libertiesof a popular and highly regarded movie director and producer like Mr. Iyantama can be trampled upon at will by rouge state governments, why should any one invest in African movies? With out the ability to attract funding African movies will continue to lack the ability to have the budget momentum to make the type of movies capable of competing at Cannes. Please join me in condemning Kano state government for harassing Mr. Iyantama and pushing back the decades of work to put hausa movies on top of the competition. Mohammed SokotoBy: Mohammed Sokoto From: Nigeria

Published in LEADERSHIP's INTERVAL Wednesday-May 21, 2008