With four major events: a celebration of the Lagos International Jazz Festival; hosting bid for the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA); transforming the Nigerian corner to Lagos Corner at the annual Notting Hill Carnival, London; and the much publicised City-to-City focus on Lagos by the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which kicks off this Thursday, there appears to be a strategic branding communication of Lagos State like never before.
No doubt, the new leadership of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s campaign promises for the creative sector is dream-come-true, with the T.H.E.S.E (Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment/Arts Sports for Excellence) project already materializing with one year in office; thanks to the governor’s lieutenants like Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture and Steve Ayorinde, Commissioner for Information and Strategy.
The move which is reclaiming the stance of the state as Nigeria’s hub of art, entertainment and culture continues at the TIFF this Thursday, with the showcase of eight Nigerian films which represent gutsy new works by contemporary directors living and working in Lagos, one of the world’s biggest film industries.
Breaking boundaries with its One Lagos/Love Lagos slogan, the state, rising from its star-studded fiesta at the Lagos Corner of the Notting Hill Carnival, London, will take the front seat by leading the Nigerian delegates to TIFF.
To ensure a befitting outing for the selected films and professionals, Ayorinde disclosed that Lagos is providing a pavilion which would serve as the base for all selected films and delegates.
Recall that the only time Nigeria had a stand at TIFF was in 2006 when Tunde Kelani’s Abeni was selected. Lagos is also supporting the participation of media practitioners cutting across broadcast, print, general interest and online publications as well as a few heads of industry associations and guilds and producers/actors from a few of the films selected who are not covered by TIFF (which takes only the directors).
According to Ayorinde, Lagos is also organising a joint reception with TIFF on September 13th, to further celebrate the film directors and star actors from the selected films and to project Lagos State as a film destination that is ready to provide locations for prospective international films.
It is not clear if the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Information would play any role at the festival, as the Nigerian Film Corporation seems to be crying of lack of fund, other filmmakers are also making their private arrangements to attend, knowing the sponsorship would be too much for Lagos State to handle alone. Also, there are no indications that the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) is ready to support this rare exposure for Nigerian films at TIFF.
The films that will be screened as part of the City-to-City programme include ‘’76’ by Izu Ojukwu; ’93 Days’ by Steve Gukas; ‘Green White Green’ by Abba Makama; ‘Just Not Married’ by Uduak-Obong Patrick; ‘Okafor’s Law’ by Omoni Oboli; ‘Oko Ashewo’ (Taxi Driver) by Daniel Emeke Oriahi and ‘The Wedding Party’ by Kemi Adetiba.
But Nigeria’s outing is likely going to explode beyond the eight films to also include Kunle Afolayan’s latest flick, The CEO, which will enjoy a special industry screening. This is just as Afolayan will share the stage with sultry actress, Genevieve Nnaji and six other internationally celebrated special guests such as Hiam Abbass, Sônia Braga, Isabelle Huppert, Karan Johar, Mark Wahlberg, and Zhang Ziyi.
Tagged “In Conversation With…”, this onstage conversation will explore Genevieve Nnaji and Kunle Afolayan’s inspiring stories, illuminating the complex dynamics behind Nollywood’s rise to prominence at home and all over the world. This is just as Lagos-born actor, singer and winner of the 2006 Amstel Malta Box Office reality TV show, OC Ukeje, alongside model and fashion executive, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama are being identified by the festival as two fast-rising actors from Nigeria who are breaking the barriers of international collaboration.