Day One | NollywoodWeek Online Film Festival 2021

Written by Fridous, Olamide and Ikeade.


The NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival is an annual film festival that showcases Nigerian cinema to a global audience. It also seeks submission from other filmmakers of colour across the world. The festival has taken place in Paris, France, until 2021 which has ushered in the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Consequently, the festival has been restricted to a virtual performance. At the end of the festival, the Prix du Public prize is awarded to whichever film has the highest audience votes.

Demystified: African Theatrical Distribution

The 8th edition of the NollywoodWeek Festival began with a forum which aimed to discuss why some movies make it to the cinema and some don’t. The discussion revolved around the future of cinema and how local films can be distributed throughout Africa.

In the discussion, the effects of the pandemic and how the continent can move forward were touched. Helen Kuun(indigenuous film distribution from SA) believes that we need to start seeing filmmaking as a collaborative effort between countries across the continent. This could be a key to growth of the Africa film industry.

Moses Babatope further emphasized that the industry must not stay complacent and not depend on foreign content but aim to produce local content. He also addressed the fact that discussions about the pressing issues facing the film industry will go a long way in helping the industry. Thereby offering a solution that conversations with leaders across the continent is a step in solving Africa Theatrical distribution. The other speakers representing other distributing outfits in Africa also added their points on the way forward for the film industry in Africa.

Demystified: Funding African Animation

This session was handled by 6 guest speakers and an anchor. Each guest boasted knowledge either about how animation is done or the financial intricacies surrounding animation. In other words, it was a discussion between animators and financers. The anchor started with the greatest difficulties animators face, in which the animators in the sessions gave the problems that they faced during the making of their respective projects. The challenges ranged from electricity, coordinating to training people. Financial support and the huge cost of marketing is constantly also a major setback. The question about the channels of funding for animation came up and one of the guests, Adebisi, mentioned that fundings can come from commercials and commissions from private enterprises. The 1hr 8min session showed that the art of animation is expensive as the budget for a short film could be around 30-60,000 dollars and for a feature film, at least 1,500,000.

Evan Marx’s (The Write Project) tips for animators:

  • The quality of the script.
  • The global appeal.
  •  The capability of the producers to deliver an international project.
  •  Lastly, Marketability: How do we take it to Netflix,  Amazon and other platforms?

Animators must have  a script to sell, even when the script is not yet complete, they must have an attractive animation synopsis or storyline. To create more animation funding and have more people consuming it, there’s a need to put it as part of the curriculum. In other words, train people in this area. Lastly, the need to act and not just clamour about the issue. 

WATCH PARTY: Animated SHORT FILM BUNDLE

This year presented some interesting entries in the short film category. From animated to live action, some outstanding entries have been up for display at the festival. The animated short films section boasts:

THE SATCHEL– Follows the stories of Obatala and Oduduwa who both battle for the control of a magical satchel Olodumare gifted Obatala to create the world with. However, Oduduwa steals the satchel from an unwary Obatala and claims it for himself. A fierce battle ensues that forever changes the face of the world. The Satchel is written by Jimi Oremule and directed by Nissi Ogulu.

THE LEGEND OF LWANDA MAGERE– The narrative follows Lwanda, a vicious African warrior who has sworn to defend his people and their honour from neighbouring marauders. He is gifted with superhuman abilities by ethereal forces, but on the condition that he never abuses it. As such stories go, he fails at respecting his gifts and pays dearly for it. The Legend of Lwanda Magere is written by Kwame Nyong’o, Tavia Nyong’o, Steve Ogana, and Justus Machariah. It was directed by Kwame Nyong’o.

UM PRESENTER ESPECIAL– The story of Lili, Stretch and ZeGordo are known neighbourhood troublemakers. They decide to make this year’s Christmas celebration a notable one for their friend, Rosita. However, an even bigger trouble plots to ruin their plans in an urchin named Stinky. Together, the Troublemakers must keep Stinky at bay. It is directed by Nildo Essa and written alongside her by Halima Essa.

SHORT FILM BUNDLE: #BlackStoriesMatter

WHERE IS BEAUTY– Nina is a visual artist who is confounded by the generic definitions of beauty on social media. She goes out in search of the raw essence of beauty and seeks to capture it on her mobile phone. It was written by April Mabry and directed by Angela McCrae.

PRETTY’S DAUGHTER– Having lived a sheltered and privileged life with her mother’s previous employer, Lisa, Busi must now return home to her mother, Pretty, in Alexandra Township, South Africa, and do what she must to fit into the rural setting. Busi must settle in and accept who she is and where she truly comes from. The short film was written and directed by Siphokazi Mtila.

HOMECOMING– This short film deals with the horrors that females go through at the hands of conservative traditional norms in deeply patriarchal societies. A brilliant female engineering student denied recognition by her department meets her doom at the hands of occult members. It was written and directed by Daniel Uzodinma.

UNBURIED– A series of scenes and shots that attempt to give a poignant account on the ordeal of African illegal migrants. Written and directed by Sally Fenaux Barleycorn.

COLORBLIND– Boston, 1965. A black man is to meet the woman he loves on a date. But elements beyond him will not let him arrive at the venue. The short film was written and directed by Angelos Bougas.

After the live action short films were screened, a Q&A session was held by the session’s moderator, and Sally Fenaux Barleycorn (Unburied). The other directors were unfortunately absent from the session. Born and raised in Spain to a Belgian father and Equatorial Guinea mother, Barleycorn cites ethereality, voodoo symbols, and dream elements as her sources of inspiration for the film. Her short film, Unburied, was commissioned by the Arts & Activism festival in London. It has been screened in the US more than anywhere else in the world. 

WATCH PARTY: ‘Regard Noir’ with  Aïssa Maïga

Marking the beginning of the evening session, a screening of Aïssa Maïga’s documentary took place. The informative documentary takes a look at black representation in the film industries where they are the minorities. Visiting the USA, Brazil and her home country, France, she interviews a number of voices in the business. Aïssa Maïga is a Senegal-born French actress who recently starred in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Chiwetel Ejiofor. In the USA, she spoke to Ava Duvernay (When They See Us), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time), Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Viola Davis (Fences).

In a heartfelt response to one of Maïga’s questions, Viola Davis talked about how she’s frequently compared to her white peers, and often called the “black meryl streep”, when she actually isn’t close to them in any way in terms of opportunities, status, and earnings. So how can she be the black meryl streep if she isn’t even on their level? The irony draws soft laughter from the interviewer.
In Brazil, the blacks are the majority but are treated like the minority as the narrator mentions. This shows that number doesn’t always equate social power, be it racial like here in Brazil or gender like in the USA. her home country, France, isn’t left out in the discussion as it is one of the countries facing the highest inequality in opportunities. Interviewing Nadège Beausson-Diagne, she details the role stereotypes, typecasting, limitation to certain roles, which are examples of inequality that black French actors face. Ultimately, Aïssa Maïga hopes that “Regard Noir” can be a proof that racism still exists and expects her documentary to be a tool that will help to create solutions. 

WKMUpAsks: How did she go about picking the interviewees? Did she have a wish list?
Answer:  It was following research and she first met with film history scholars.

OPENING NIGHT WATCH PARTY: ‘All Na Vibes’ + Q&A

The night ended with a premiere of Taiwo Egunjobi’s All Na Vibes, coming after his feature debut, In Ibadan. All Na Vibes was written by Isaac Ayodeji and edited and produced by Emiola Fagbenle. The film once again proves to be different from what we see everyday in the industry, boasting natural dialogues with strong intent, introducing themes that rarely get touched and will be a ray of never-seen-before rainbow when it hits theatres. It features teens doing teens stuff in a pulsating manner that switches gear as soon as you are starting to get comfortable, which it does successfully, thanks to the performances from the debutants.

WKMUpAsks: Unfortunately, the session ended as I sent in my question. But watch out for our interview with the promising director. You can read the interview here.

Check back here for a report of day two.
Day three report is available here.

You can also follow us twitter for constant updates.

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