Saturday, June 7, 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

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