Running for the seventh year, the Africa in Motion festival has established itself as one of the leading African cinema events. For the first time since inception, it screened a number of premieres including Tunde Kelani's 'Ma'ami' along with its opening night in Glasgow at the GFT.
This year's edition included 23 feature lengthy and 32 short films, as it explored modern Africa as its primary focus and with the diversity of the films on offer as it criticised one of their most progressive lineups thus far.
The programme was made up of strands including African science fiction, Arab Spring documentaries and the cult popularity of Nollywood - which is now one of the fastest growing and most productive film industries in the world, churning out over 500 films a year.
The Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) made a presence as it built its events around Kelani's work. According to Ms. Patricia Bala Acting DG of the NFVBC, it is a novelty to sponsor and create a platform for a Nigerian film to be screened abroad as a show of support. "The organisers were excited to receive us and were more excited that Kelani's film was being screened and he was sponsored by the NFVCB to the event.
"It was a promotional event both for the NFVCB, Kelani and Nigeria. There were several questions asked by the various people about the challenges of movie production in the country and also the fact that a lot of foreigners are learning and doing post graduate studies on Nollywood. Now, without the board providing some necessary information and information on films produced, classified, distribution and monitoring, such researches will be dead in the water. So, it was a welcome relief that some of the students met us and were so excited, because of the opportunity to talk to those directly involved."
Kelani delivered an interactive on the use of indigenous language in his movies tracing it to his studies in the film school in the UK.
The award winning film maker said he was influenced by his fellow students from Russia, Japan and other countries who already were doing film in their languages and subtitling them. "I therefore experimented on it and decided to do films in Yoruba. The second factor that influenced my choice of genre is the fact that the people who sent me to learn the act of film making couldn't understand why I had to do his film in English and then interpret or have subtitles. As a mark of respect and the need to uphold the culture, I decided to do my films in my native Yoruba language," Kelani said
Kelani said in Nigeria and from the NFVCB records, "the number of indigenous films has increased especially the Hausa, Yoruba and Edo films." That, for him, is a major development and growth.
He commended the NFVCB for honouring him, saying "this is the first time I've really been well honoured by Nigeria and outside the country."
Professor Ono Okome a Nigerian Professor of Film Studies at the Alberta University, Canada who delivered a paper on the perception of Nollywood in Europe said "it is highly commendable that the NFVCB is here for the festival. A lot of European students are now doing postgraduate studies in Nollywwod and the board must urgently create a platform to assist them as the board is a repository of information about Nollywood."
He said students will be sent to Nigeria to do their research, which will eventually benefit the board and the country.
Topics including the influence of Nollywood, distribution, content and the perception of Nollywood as an industry were issues discussed during the nine-day event.
There was a barrage of related film events throughout the fortnight, including an extensive director's master-class with award-winning South African playwright and filmmaker Ndaba Ka Ngwane. He also premiered his debut feature 'Uhlanga: The Mark'. Ngwane's film has received critical acclaim for its intense portrayal of rural poverty and violence in modern South Africa, told through the eyes of three teenagers.
From the short films category, one of the standout films was 'Hasaki Ya Suda' (The Three Black Samurai) an afrofuturistic short film by Cédric Ido and one of the first afro-Samurai movies of its kind. It's a dystopian look at Africa in the year 2010 in which a migration from south to north due to global warming has created a nomadic wasteland of survivors who have revived the ancient traditions of their ancestors - including swordplay.