MOPPAN Others Have Much Work To Do In Uniting Strengthening Northern Film Industry Experts – At the 6th edition of the Kaduna Film Festival (KADIFF), northern filmmakers lamented the many woes that beleaguer their craft and the industry popularly called Kannywood.
The problems ranged from the lack of funding for production and marketing, to absence of governmental support, inability to access standard filming equipment, poor filming location, lack of representation in filmmaking groups, and non-Hausa translations of films at film festivals.
In all, the problems seem to be none of the industry’s doing rather that of external forces such as government and film stakeholders like KADIFF, and corporate industries; it blames the first for screening non-Hausa translated films, and the latter for not supporting northern filmmakers as they do Nollywood and the southern filmmakers.
An insightful observation from the Executive Director of National Film and Video Censors Board, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, however, indicates that the northern film industry, and in particular, Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) has much to do in uniting and strengthening the northern players in Nigeria’s film industry.
Earlier at the festival, some filmmakers and film groups accused MOPPAN and Association of Movie Producers (AMP) of failing to carry along northern filmmakers, and promoting one ethnicity over fifteen other existing ethnicities in the north. The National President of the Northern Filmmakers Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Umar Ali Yakubu, accused both bodies of taking interested only in their dues and votes during election periods, while excluding them from capacity and technical workshops. Such alienation, he said, led to the search for an alternative group, a third force, which led to a fourth and fifth factions.
Thomas, who based off his experiences as head of the censors’ board and working with various film bodies and associations, said such factions simply undermine the efforts of the industry rather than strengthen it.
While it is good to have groups like Northern Filmmakers Association that “bear the voices of the entire north in the discussions of certain matters in the film ecosystem”, Thomas said they are not professional enough to make a global impact. Neither do the factions help the region to speak with one voice of its needs, rather projects dissenting voices, which discourages investors.
MOPPAN, he said, must do more to absorb all the filmmaking factions and deploy its numbers, just as the region’s does in politics, to develop filmmaking in the north. He also noted that MOPPAN should be operated not as a northern film association but the national association that it is, through exploration of its networks and collaborations between southern and northern filmmakers to enrich their stories and audiences.
On the suggestions to translate all movies at the festival into Hausa language, the executive director denounced such move saying it will undermine the nature of the festival. “This is not an issue of language barrier. Some films can be translated but an international film festival should not be downgraded because there are local movies submitted.”
Addressing claims that the absence of notable northern filmmakers and actors at the festival, is a result of inadequate publicity, KADIFF founder and Executive Director, Israel Audu, said those with an understanding of the film culture need not be chased around by festival organizers to participate.
“We did the best we could, and we did get feedback. The feedback is that in the northern film industry, they will tell you that if you are not giving them award, they will not attend. If you are not giving them accommodation they won’t come. And that is those outside of Kaduna; for those within Kaduna they want special invitations. You cannot please everybody.
“The people of the north are not used to film festivals, only a few of the northern actors or filmmakers attend festivals outside of the north, like Ali Nuhu and Rahama Sadau.
“In the film entries, we only had one entry from the north. All the other entries came from Nollywood and outside the country. We had over 40 countries participate in the festival.
I don’t know, we just do our bit as organizers and continue to dialogue and engage the film practitioners, and with time, we will get it right.”
With the festival in talks with the Israeli film institute NextGen Broadcast Media Solutions, one of its supporters, Audu is optimistic of building a collaboration that will span knowledge and equipment exchange to benefit the northern film industry.
Here, he said, the festival needs government support, as insecurity in the north affected international attendance and recent terrorist threat to the Abuja Kaduna railway line discouraged local participation. Meantime, there are no public airlines to Kaduna till date.
Arguments on government involvement in the film industry, further arose on numerous occasions during the festival.
For Thomas, and the Chairman of Jaba Local Government, Kaduna State, Honourable Nita Byack George, both artistes turned public officials, believe outside of creating the right environment government has no place investing in the creative sector. “I do think the government needs to take the industry seriously but that has to be initiated by the practitioners.
Unfortunately, film practitioners usually approach the government on individual basis. They go on courtesy visits, place the demand of the industry and go behind to pursue whatever it is they are able to get from officials. It plays down the value and respect of the industry,” added George.
Audu, however, is of the opinion that government should provide not just the enabling environment but financial support as the government of France does to Cannes Film Festival hence its popularity today, as one of the world’s
biggest film festivals.
“I think it is a two way thing. I think that while we do our part here in the north, the government needs to support us. It can build an understanding with filmmakers across the northern states with regards to filmmaking equipment or funding.”
For an improved northern film industry, Thomas urged filmmakers to view the film industry as other sectors of the economy, invest in their passion which reflects on the quality of production, and keep an eye out for opportunities.
“The season will come for your market or service. It is not something that can be forced. If location is the problem in
the north, move to the location that works. Lagos is just paparazzi. About 1000 movies are shot in Asaba.
“If government is to do anything, it is to provide the enabling environment. Cherish your privatization because government cannot control you or your content. Government intervention will only stifle the independence and creativity of creatives. “Network. Networking will take you where you don’t expect.
Try to move out of the north,” Thomas tasked the filmmakers. Finally, commending organizers of KADIFF, for establishing the first ever film festival in the north, he urged that the festival improve upon itself by involving film students from tertiary institutions in the region.
“I would like them to involve students in the festival especially in the panel sessions. They can invite students from Kaduna State University, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and other tertiary institutions around Kaduna who are in the field of film and other related discipline.”
Founded in 2018, the sixth edition of the Kaduna Film Festival held August 22 to 26, 2023 at the Alliance Francais, Kaduna State.