Hope Obioma Opara, the president and co founder of the forthcoming Eko International Film Festival (EKOIFF), just returned from the recently held 63rd edition of the annual Cannes International Film Festival, France. He shared his experience with us and further spoke on his plans and preparations for EKOIFF, which he also unwrapped at the global film gathering. “I attended this year’s Cannes in my capacities as the president of EKOIFF and also as the publisher of Supple magazine. But unlike last year’s, Nigeria did not have a pavilion and only a few Nigerian journalists were there. The Lagos state government sent the Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Inter-Governmental Affairs and the Censors Board. Also Mr. and Mrs. Fashola, the amiable parents of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State were there. The Lagos state delegation came to Cannes to promote the Lagos Film City project, which is to be located in Badagry. The Lagos Film City will be the Hollywood of Nigeria when completed. And we met with top executives of KODAK at an exclusive party on a luxury yacht, where the Lagos state delegation publicized the Lagos Film City project and I also informed the international guests about the EKOIFF, coming up in Lagos this July. I had a very important meeting with KODAK executives on how we can improve the quality of Nollywood cinematography. We also talked about them supporting EKOIFF.” Speaking on the major attractions at Cannes, Opara said Senegal and South Africa competed for the top prizes and one of the most moving and touching films was “Life, Above All", a movie on the stigma and trauma of AIDS in South Africa. “Many of the viewers left the theatre in tears after seeing it. But the big question at the festival was where is Nollywood? We need to work harder to compete with the best in the film world. I am very confident that we have all it takes in terms of ambitious directors, daring producers, outstanding actors and actresses to pitch in every film festival in the world. And that is why we want to use EKOIFF to bring the film world to Lagos every July and attract thousands of tourists to Nigeria.” On the number of films that had been submitted so far for EKOIFF, Opara further disclosed thus: “We have received over 33 films so far and 21 of them are by filmmakers from Europe and other parts of the world, including a Spanish film that has won over 100 awards, and one film called “Made in Japan”. We are excited that many foreign filmmakers are willing to come to Nigeria for EKOIFF. We are doing our best with able members of the Organizing Committee and our European media partners who have publicized EKOIFF to over 4,000 filmmakers and over 77, 000 film festival media agencies in the world. We need the cooperation and support of the Lagos state government since this is the host state, the federal government, the local and multinational companies and everyone to do their best to join us to make the inaugural outing a success. Nigerian filmmakers and others should go to our website for accreditation details.”
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