On the 1st of December this year, the Africa International film festival will be pulling all stops to organise its first edition. The group which acts as a platform for old and new talent in the African film industry will host a five day affair that includes workshops, screenings, and competitions in the different genre of films (short, feature, film, animation). “We are receiving movies from African film makers in the diaspora as well as those here; our objective is to bring forth light on what we (Africans) have now in our film industry”. The brainchild of Chioma Ude, the Africa International film festival hopes to celebrate what Africa has to offer in film, “We’re not hoping, we know AFRIFF will improve the Nigerian film industry,” she said. From Nursing to Nollywood It was not always about films for Chioma Ude. Upon completing her study at the Univerisity of Nigeria, Nsukka, earning a degree in marketing, she moved to the United states of America, to study nursing and worked as a bedside nurse for three years. The incisive entrepreneur, Mrs Ude eventually left nursing and started a staffing agency, while simultaneously running a jewellery business at the side. Eventually everything changed, “I finally had it, I was really fed up with America because I felt like I was not going anywhere, it was then I decided to move back to Nigeria with no plan or agenda,” she said. Despite her lack of plan, Mrs Ude made an easy landing in Nigeria, “I was quite lucky, I got my biggest break from Nicholas Okoye, (former group executive director of Transcorp) thanks to him, I got my first job opportunity and he’s been supportive throughout my journey,” she said. Her role coordinating the transportation logistics for Transcorp, led her to a contact from the Nigerian Film and Video censors board (NFVCB) where she was given the opportunity to help produce a road show at the expo centre in London for Nollywood. Encountering Peace With a striking face and statuesque physique, it is a wonder why Mrs Ude never veered to be infront of the camera, however she adds that her strength lies in the business side of things, organising and managing projects. Her first real involvement in the film industry started four years ago, when she was positioned to help produce a road show, “I did the logistics of taking the show to London, organising a party for them and trying to make it as big and successful as possible. Overall it was an insightful experience,” she said. It was during this time that she met Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima, founder of the Africa Movie Academy Awards “she was very encouraged and liked how I put things together and asked me to produce the next AMAA”. Mrs Ude has since helped produce three other AMAA awards, as well as initiated the annual charity ball for the Award show, so far the charity ball has worked towards funding projects that deal with sickle cell, adoption and the Jos crisis. It was her position as the local producer of the international touring film festival , ION, that helped inspire her to create the African International film festival, with Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima on the Board, “based on the success of the travelling film festival we decided to create something with a strong tie and foundation in Nigeria,” she said. In addition to running the African International Film festival, Mrs Ude owns and operates JATA Logistics, a premier events company that helps organisations with staffing and branding. Taking on Funding With a little less than five years in the film industry, Mrs Ude has become acclimatised with it, “I’m very comfortable here, I’ve met and mixed with a lot of people in the industry, I understand how the industry works,” she said. Even with her knowledge, organising a film festival is no easy feat for anyone, especially Mrs Ude who cites lack of funding as one of the biggest challenges she encounters, but she’s adds that things are turning around, “the river state government is looking at supporting us.” With the goal of expanding this indigenous film festival and making it as popular as other international film festivals, other challenges include becoming knowledgeable of the different facets of this big industry, “For me I’m learning as I’m moving along, I can’t say I know it all. For this film festival I made sure we had specialists, I’m not a specialist but I’m learning to have a bit of everything. I have four wonderful ladies doing what they know how to do best,” she said. Yes she Cannes! As the due date approaches for the film festival, Mrs Ude adds that she’s taking it all in her stride. “I’m not one to get overwhelmed, I think I get that from my nursing days when I was forced to constantly think on my feet.” After the festival, she hopes to go forward with yearly workshops that hope to inform students of the latest forms and acts of film making, “we already have a film company in south Africa as well as a facilitators from Hollywood willing to participate in these workshops,” Mrs. Ude adds that her long term goal is to take this film festival and make it what Cannes is to France and she adds, “it is achieveable.” When she’s not working, this mother of four can be found shopping and watching movies, especially romantic comedies, espionage and documentaries. Of her philosophy on life, Mrs Ude shares “Live it, don’t let anyone live it for you.”
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