In a night filled with glitz and glamour hosted by media personality Osikhena Dirisu, known as Osi Suave, the Edo State International Film Festival (ESIFF) unveiled its plans for the much-anticipated sophomore edition. Held at the prestigious Eko Hotel in Lagos on October 15, the festival’s industry mixer served as an event for film enthusiasts, industry stakeholders, and distinguished guests to come together in celebration of cinema and the arts.
The highlight of the evening was the keynote address delivered by the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, whose passion for the film industry shone brightly. In his address, Governor Obaseki expressed his excitement for Nollywood and announced his administration’s support for the festival which will also include his personal support that will see him contribute funds from his personal account. Furthermore, he highlighted the State Government’s commitment to providing the necessary infrastructure to bolster the cultural sector in Edo State.
Governor Obaseki went on to recount the impressive achievements of the 2022 debut event. A staggering 1,150 movies were submitted from 96 countries, with 12 masterclass sessions and over 3,820 festival attendees. Notably, the event catalyzed a surge in filmmaker enthusiasm, with a 30% boost in Actors Guild attendance and membership. This showcased the festival’s significant influence in inspiring and nurturing talent.
Looking ahead to the 2023 edition, Governor Obaseki outlined the festival’s goals, including support for local filmmakers, fostering creative industry partnerships, global promotion, technological innovation, and cultural exchange. The governor also unveiled an enticing prize purse of $35,000 for the upcoming festival. The submissions for 2023 have already broken records, with 3,094 movies pouring in from 126 countries. The top five countries contributing to this are Nigeria, Iran, India, the United States, and Brazil.
The evening was graced by the presence of Nollywood stars and filmmakers, such as Carol King, Alibaba, Norbert Young, Teco Benson, Ibrahim Suleiman, Victor Sanchez Aghahowa (festival president), Mary Njoku, Judith Audu, Sandra Okunzuwa, Mr. Xavier Ighorodje and many more. The familial ambiance encouraged interactions and networking among industry stakeholders.
The festival jury for the 2023 edition was also unveiled, featuring esteemed members such as Henry Legemah, Trevor Pillay, Victor Okhai, Iyen Agbonifo Obaseki, and Jay Franklin Jituboh. They will be instrumental in recognizing and rewarding excellence at this year’s festival.
The Edo State International Film Festival, strongly supported by the state government, is pivotal in nurturing and promoting the film culture in Nigeria. For filmmakers looking to showcase their works, this festival offers a prominent platform to gain recognition. It also benefits the audience, providing them with a diverse array of films from around the world, considering the submissions received so far. Furthermore, investors, streamers, and distributors will find ample opportunities to scout fresh talent and invest in promising projects. The festival represents a pioneering model for how state governments can support the film industry and film culture of Nigeria, showcasing the importance of such initiatives.
Edo State International Film Festival is set to take place from November 30 to December 2, 2023, at the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub Performance Theatre in Edo State.
What Kept Me Up is a media partner of the Edo State International Film Festival 2023.
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