The 16th Abuja International Film Festival opened on Tuesday at the Silverbird Cinemas, Abuja.
The festival, which is in its 16th year and the longest running film festival in anglophone West Africa, had the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, declaring the festival open as the Special Guest of Honour with the Managing Director of the Nigerian Film Corporation, Dr. Chidia Madueke, giving a goodwill message from the corporation.
The Festival Director, Mrs. Temitope Duker, went down memory lane on the film festival’s 16 years run, highlighting some of the achievements of the festival as the emergence of cinemas in cinema structures in Abuja.
She also mentioned how Abuja has become a major hub for filmmaking.
She recalled how the film festival started 16 years ago with hotels serving as screening centres “but today, there are several cineplex and multiple hosting several film festivals around the country”.
She also mentioned how the festival had been a beacon of hope for several young and aspiring filmmakers to showcase their first films and have gone on to become celebrated filmmakers both locally and internationally.
She also used the opportunity to appeal to the government to see the unique opportunities of film festival to the economic and social lives of host communities siting examples like Cannes, Venice, Sundance and Berlinale “which have today become a major part of those cities’ economic and social ecosystem”.
In his response, the Minister of Water Resources commended the resilience and sustainability of the organisers to have kept the Festival this long, promising to see how the government can continue to engage and support worthy initiatives like this.
He, however, advised that organisers must not relent in their drive for excellence.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Nigerian Film Corporation commended the organisers for sustaining the festival for the initiative and promised to always support such creative projects that seek to enhance the development of the industry and the country.
The festival opened with the screening of the Kenyan documentary film ‘FAR FROM HOME’ which centred on irregular migration of Africans through the sea to Europe and closed with Tade Ogidan’s film entry titled ‘Gold Statue’ about 11pm.
Founder and former Festival Director, Fidelis Duker, said he stepped down as festival director after 15 years to concentrate on his media business. He, however, promised to always contribute and support the running of the festival. He also commented on the quality of entries which from the programme line up shows an array of excellent films showcasing diverse genres and themes.
The festival will end on Friday with an award ceremony.
In attendance were notable Nollywood filmmakers including foreign filmmakers from Kenya, Ghana, China, Burkina Faso and officials of diplomatic missions.