A WHIFF OF AFRIFF AT DIFF: A TRAVELOGUE BY CHARLES NOVIA

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By the time the special contingent from AFRIFF ( Africa International Film Festival) arrived at Durban on the 23rd of July 2015, for the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), it was just a couple of days to the closing and most people still around for DIFF felt that we had missed the meat of the festival during the early days.

After the AFRIFF/TRACE TV combo closing party on the 26th of July, it was actually those who left before the closing party who missed an important vignette of the whole festival!

I’m telling this story front-to-back though! Now, that closing party IS a party and everyone present loosened up that night and went crazy! It was great fun. Massive! Real massive.

I daresay that in those few days the AFRIFF delegation stormed the city, Durban itself felt the tremor signs of a future eruption of something hot and collaborative between South Africa and Nigeria in  film partnerships.

Now in its fifth year, AFRIFF has as one of its goals, a veritable networking of talents and purpose between African nations and the filmmaking nations of the world in general. According to Keith Phiri, AFRIFF Festival Director in a lobby chat with me on our second day of arrival, ‘ South Africa and Nigeria are two of Africa’s most important filmmaking nations as well as the continent’s economic power houses. Both countries have to collaborate to forge a new alliance and to learn from each other. Nollywood has such powerful energies which the rest of the continent try to catch up with. You guys have something special and other countries still wonder up till today how you guys do it. South Africa have the technical know – how and first – class film development values and is a destination point for Hollywood Studios. We can’t have both countries on the divide. We must forge partnerships. We must define the new cinema of the digital age’.

Keith has so much passion and a wealth of experience for African cinema and in most film festivals around the world where he is an important resource person, one is likely to find him advocating such ideas.unnamed-3unnamed-4

There was an aspect of the DIFF on the 24th of July which was tagged ‘Nigerian Day’ in which two important sessions discussed the Nigerian model and the South African model of film  making, distribution and areas of collaboration. There was a motley presence of interested film personalities from both countries and from other countries and the jaw-jaw was healthy, argumentative and open-ended in proferring solutions. This is just the stirrings of something to watch out for. It begins. It all begins.

The AFRIFF official delegation of film personalities had Chioma Ude, Founder, Afie Makinde, AFRIFF’s Project Manager, Mahmoud Alli – Balogun, Keith Phiri, Chioma Onyenwe, Julian, Ike and Tonia. A special delegation of film personalities from Nigeria selected by AFRIFF had Ramsey Noah, Kunle Afolayan, Rita Dominic, OC Ukeje, Hilda Dokubo, Mildred Okwo, Charles Novia, Uru Eke and a few others. There was what I would term ” “special guest appearances” by Sam Onyemelukwe of Trace TV ( who was a fantastic host both in Durban and Joburg) and Joe Hundah of…who’s a friend of Nollywood.

unnamed-6Pedro Pimenta, the Festival Director of DIFF is quite a nice chap and good host as well…..

One thing is certain; the fifth edition of AFRIFF which holds in Lagos, Nigeria in November 2015, promises to be quite cool! Whatever it is the organizers are cooking up, there was a slight whiff of it in Durban. Smells good.

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