Ife International Film Festival

African Video Films: Telling the African Story

Communiqué of the African Video Film Arts Festival 2007
The African Video Film Arts Festival was designed as a forum for bringing together filmmakers, critics and academics from different countries in Africa to showcase their films and also to subject such films to academic rigor with the intent of providing a theoretical base for the African Video Film as an art form. A measure of condescending critical attention has been paid to the African video film, with critics referring to it as a mere craft. The festival therefore set out to redress this anomaly. Also, distribution problems have prevented audiences from watching films from other countries apart from their own. The festival provided the opportunity for viewing films from other countries and filmmakers were also able to sell some of their films.

The African Video Film Arts Festival took place at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, from 28th to 31st October, 2007. The theme of the festival was ‘Africa through the eye of the Video Camera’. The festival was co-sponsored by The Prince Claus Fund, Netherlands, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and the Festival Director, Dr. (Mrs.) Foluke Ogunleye.

The festival had input from filmmakers, critics, academicians and audience from Nigeria, Britain, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Swaziland, South Africa, Uganda, United States of America and Zimbabwe. Selected African Video Films were screened, giving the audience an opportunity to have a glimpse of the cultures that informed the production of such films. The festival has built bridges of understanding and cooperation between the different countries that were represented at the festival. Awareness has been created about what Africans are doing to promote their art and culture and about how African video artists are reflecting and affecting their societies through their art.
The festival lauded the ingenuity of African filmmakers in not allowing the movie industry to die as a result of the economic recession being experienced in many African countries. Rather, filmmakers have ingenuously created a new cinematic form – the video film.

Delegates reaffirmed the importance of the social dimension of the African video film, which has been playing a critical role in reflecting and affecting social and political happenings within the parent societies. Delegates also underlined the fact that the need to increase sales must be balanced with the objective of social responsibility in the content of the films.

The festival noted with concern an increasing aping of western values in some of the films. It therefore reiterated that African video filmmakers must become pro-active in the portrayal of African history and culture.

The festival expressed concern with the low quality of some African Video films. It consequently called for working relationships between video artists and trained cinematographers in order to transfer technical knowledge and expertise. In this respect, an appeal was sent out to trained cinematographers not to regard the video art as unworthy of their attention, but they should contribute to its development.

The festival called for Video Artists to take advantage of workshops, seminars, University certificate and diploma courses, etc., to improve their art.

The festival welcomed the interest shown by other regions of the world in the African Video Film, but reiterated that the art form should not be stifled by condescending criticism.

The festival stressed that national authorities and standard-setting bodies should provide auspicious financial and legal environments for the African Video film to thrive.

The festival encouraged Academia to establish a strong homegrown theoretical foundation for the video film and also institute nomenclatures that would project the Africanness of the genre and jettison the aping of Hollywood as reflected in nollywood (Nigeria), riverwood (Kenya), etc.

Finally, the festival called for filmmakers to be radical in defense of a sustainable, humane society.

The next edition of the African Film festival will be in October 2008.

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