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BIFF Opens Today in Yenagoa, Promises a Bigger Hit Writes Etete Enideneze

BIFF Opens Today in Yenagoa, Promises a Bigger Hit Writes Etete Enideneze

The second edition of Bayelsa International Film Festival (BIFF), billed for 16th to 19th of November 2022, promises to be a bigger hit than its debut held last year.

This year’s mega contest received 2,838 entries from filmmakers in 126 countries across the globe. Some of the countries include United States of America, India, Brazil, France, Italy, Russia, Iran, Egypt, Mexico, Nigeria, and others, many of which also participated in last year’s edition.

BIFF Opens Today in Yenagoa, Promises a Bigger Hit Writes Etete Enideneze
BIFF Opens Today in Yenagoa, Promises a Bigger Hit Writes Etete Enideneze

Out of the total number of films entered, producers and directors from Nigeria submitted 59, while Bayelsa, the host has 10, all surpassing last year’s entries.

The overall entries this year is more than half of the 1,137 films from 84 countries, in the maiden edition, signifying a growing global acceptance of the Bayelsa International Film Festival, just within two years.

More than 90 movies selected from this year’s entries, will be screen-played for judges and audience, at Nostalgea Cinema Hall, Etegwe and Contiki Cinema Hall, Igbogene, all in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on different schedules. The opening movie is Hidden Dreams, directed by Ngang Romanus.

An Award Night, is billed for Aredolf Events Centre in Yenagoa City. The categories of awards are best actor, actress, feature, and documentary, supporting roles, costume, cinematography, screenplay or scripting, editing, directing as well as audience award.

Other events to spice up the fiesta are fashion show, cultural dance, a gig featuring DJs Young Wizzy, Cruz and OJ, while Trinity and Skipo will compeer the Red-carpet segment.

Erudite scholars and practitioners in various fields will serve as judges in the film contest. They are Prof. Saviour N. A. Agoro of Niger Delta University; Munabo Davies, the CEO of Nostalgia Cinema; Renee Chatman, film producer from USA; Prof. Samuel Ogunbiyi of University of Port-Harcourt, who is also Chairman Directors Guild of Nigeria, Port-Harcourt.

Others are Michele Carpeneti, a film critic from USA; Lucus Benitez, filmmaker from Mexico/USA; Kevin E. Jones, a music and art producer; Terri Reed, Hollywood actor, film critic and instructor.

The theme of this year’s event is, “Cinema and Culture”, featuring Prof. Saviuor N. A. Agoro as the Keynote Speaker as well as Chairman of the session, while Prof. Omoera Osakue Stevenson, Prof. Ben Benaebi, Dr. Rudolf Kansese and Uche Agbo, a film director, are facilitators of the discourse.

There will also be sessions, where experts would train interested youths in script writing, acting, directing, editing, cinematography and film production.

The Bayelsa International Film Festival is expected to attract renowned actors, directors, producers, marketers, film and movie enthusiasts, students and tourists from within and outside Nigeria, to Yenagoa.

At the fiesta, the cream de la crème of theatre, film and movie industry are going to entertain, exchange ideas on contemporary practices and encourage youths to join the profession.

Behind the Bayelsa International Film Festival is a young Bayelsan, Mr. Moses Etonzor, who is the President/Director of BIFF. Mr. Etonzor hails from Gbaraun and Amassoma in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.

He cut his teeth in acting and film production, by way of talent, but later honed his skills at the University of Calabar, Cross River State, where he studied theatre and media studies, instead of law, which was his childhood dream.

Etonzor has worked with many superstars in acting, directing and production of stage-plays, films and movies, before, during and after his university education, mostly in Lagos and Calabar. His mentors include the ace director and producer, Imaseun Lancelot and Bernard Kalama, a Bayelsa-born astute filmmaker.

A prolific scriptwriter, editor and director, Etonzor has directed seven movies, among which are Tears of Pain; Daughter Why, and Life of a Tout. His undergraduate project on Globalization and Culture: A Film Perspective, was premiered at the University of Calabar Theatre, as a stage-drama.

Miffed by ethnic dominance and monopoly in Nigeria’s film and movie industry, Mr. Etonzor left Lagos where he was practicing, to Bayelsa. His intent was to explore and promote the viable entertainment and tourism sector in Bayelsa State, in order to project the rich cultural heritage through movie making.

This is more so, as he feels that the tight monopoly in the film and movie industry in Nigeria, would not encourage talents in other places to tell stories of their people to the world.

Thus, the determined young Bayelsan, Mr. Moses Etonzor, in 2018, mooted the idea of an annual film fiesta in Bayelsa State and birthed the debut in Yenagoa, in 2021 after the Covid-19 lockdowns.

From the first edition to this year’s outing, the project has been funded through personal resources of the President/Director, Mr. Etonzor, with occasional support from a few business personalities, friends and relatives.

These are besides the partnership it has with Nostalgea Cinema, Contiki, Niger Delta University (NDU); KADMON; PRESSHILL; Growth Media; MATHO Crystal Hotel; Bayelsa State Tourism Development Agency, and Bayelsa State Ministry of Tourism. Others are Canon Cameras; Channels Television; Actors Guild of Nigeria; Directors Guild of Nigeria and Association of Movie Producers who are rendering technical and other forms of support.

Although the Bayelsa International Film Festival is a private project, it deserves moral and financial support from public and private organizations, as well as philanthropists.

This is in view of the relevance of film and movies as vehicles for telling a people’s narratives, entertainment, education; a means of creating employment for youths; promotion, preservation and transmission of culture as well as tourism, which drives an economy.

Bayelsa’s quest to maximise its tourism potential, to attract tourists and improve internally generated revenues, could be realized through many ways, and film production is among them.

Hence, the State’s Ministry of Culture and Ijaw Affairs as well as Ministry of Information, Orientation/Strategy and of course Governor Douye Diri, need to give more support to the Bayelsa International Film Festival, which has drawn global attention to the state.

Similar call goes to the Federal Government, which is yearning to diversify its economy to non-oil sectors, hence sponsorship of film festival to boost tourism and engage youths, is a sine qua non.

Thus, relevant Federal ministries and agencies such as Ministry of Information and Culture; Nigerian Content Development Management Board; Niger Delta Development Commission, could support the BIFF.

Business operators ought to partner organizers of the Bayelsa International Film Festival, to take advantage of promoting their products and services, while also getting percentage of direct financial benefits, as may be agreed.

As this year’s edition of the Bayelsa International Festival, takes place 16th to 19th of this month, the organizers have promised a better outing than the maiden edition.

Therefore, spectators, sponsors and other class of persons could patronize the noble project in one way or the other, to sustain the annual fiesta in the state and Nigeria.


BIFF Opens Today in Yenagoa, Promises a Bigger Hit Writes Etete Enideneze

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