The curtain fell Sunday night on the maiden edition of the Edo State International Film Festival, ESIFF, with the organisers bemoaning the “rather unimpressive” entries from Edo State in terms of number and quality, even as host governor, Godwin Obaseki, splashed cash awards of over $50,000 on winners in the various categories.
Expressing disappointment at the unimpressive outing by Edo State at the grand finale of the four-day film fiesta held at the exquisite ambience of the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub along Airport Road, Benin City, head of festival jury, and president of the Directors Guild of Nigeria, DGN, Professor Osakue Omoera, noted that “we did not get many submissions from Edo State in a festival that is arguably one of the best in terms of entries. The number and quality of entries from Edo State were rather unimpressive in spite of all the efforts of the governor and government in creating an enabling environment for film production to thrive”. The 10-man jury therefore, made some recommendations that could enhance better performance by Edo State filmmakers.
“We wish to encourage practitioners and creatives to up their game technically, and story-telling wise. There is also the need to raise the ante in technical competency in the areas of production design, screen play, sound design, among others.
“New strategies should be devised to encourage practitioners to avail themselves of the existing training programmes by the government, and apply what is being taught so that more quality films will begin to emerge from Edo State”. Omoera, who commended Governor Obaseki’s initiative in organizing the film festival, disclosed that over 2,000 films from 94 countries were screened”, the DGN president stated.
Closing the festival, the governor expressed satisfaction with its success, hailing Edo people as “perhaps the most creative people on the black continent.” According to him, “Our history is there to show that we have created masterpieces in terms of arts throughout the centuries. Our people are the most creative Africans that have existed. The talents that we are celebrating here today come from a long line and strong heritage of creativity and heritage. Tonight, we are celebrating our best at the maiden Edo State International Film Festival.
“After today, the dates for next year’s festival will be announced. We are here to give out the award to the best overall film. I am sure the work and time that went into producing this film is worth more than what we are giving as a prize. This prize is just a token of our appreciation for the work put into telling our stories by utilising our God-given talent.”
Governor Obaseki further noted that Edo people had thrived through their creativity in music and films, and the capacity to preach the word of God to the rest of the world, adding that “We are successful in these two areas because of limited government intervention and involvement in your affairs, enabling you to express yourselves and sell your talent to the whole world”.
The governor’s award of $10,000 for the best overall film at the festival went to a project titled, ‘Onaiwu,’ directed by Joseph Okhomina who also won the best director at the event.
The ‘Battle of the West’ emerged best film in the use of technology; ‘Zara’ won best cell phone film, and ‘the Funeral’ emerged the best student film, with each winner getting $2,000 cash reward.
The best indigenous language film award, aimed at promoting the use of indigenous language in filmmaking, went to ‘On this mountain,’ while ‘Omoatama,’ emerged the best film shot in Edo State, with each category winner going home with $5,000 cash prize.
Winners of the rural photography award also went home with N375, 000. Other winners are: Best Director, Joseph Okhomina with the film ‘Onaiwu’; Best Actor (female), Victory Idahosa (Onaiwu); Best Actor (male), Ben Olaye (Onaiwu); Best Short Film, ‘Tare’; Best Documentary, ‘Palm for Crude’; Best Film Costume, Osayi Blessing (Onaiwu); Best Filmmaker, Ramon Abdulazeez; and Best Cinematography, ‘After a While’ (Egypt).