Festivals can revamp Nigerian film industry, promote peace – Israel Audu | Dailytrust

Festivals can revamp Nigerian film industry, promote peace – Israel Audu

Israel Audu
Israel Audu

Israel Audu is the founder of Kaduna International Film Festival and the CEO of Ezzykash Media Concept. In this interview, he explains that festivals can revamp the Nigerian film industry as well as be a panacea for promoting peace and harmony.

 

You are into films and artistes’ promotion via branding, events and award organizing, among other related art/creatives. How did you begin and what inspired you?

I have always had a passion for films and want to see the creative industry grow, especially in Northern Nigeria, hence my attraction to films and entertainment. I want to see that the Northern creative industry competes not just with the South but the world at large.

You are the founder of Kaduna International Film Festival and the CEO of Ezzykash Media Concept. Tell us more about them.

The Kaduna International Film Festival was founded in 2018. It is the first international film festival in Northern Nigeria. The festival’s aim is to bring together film makers and film lovers across the globe annually into Kaduna State (which is headquarter of the North, so to speak), to promote entertainment and boost the GDP of not only the state, but Northern Nigeria through film production. And Ezzykash Media Concept is the brand which organizes this event annually.

It was due to lack of film festivals in the North that the festival was created to promote, encourage and support creativity and showcase emerging innovations, products or services born out of acquired passion and skills in the film industry among the youth. Nollywood, Kannywood and ‘woods’ from different regions in Nigeria have benefited from the festival since its creation, including international film makers/actors.

Every year, during the festival, there are master classes, film screenings, workshop/Seminars, panel discussions, tourism and awards. As part of a wider campaign, this film festival aims at promoting public awareness on the role of the movie industry and promotion of our tradition/cultural background in relation with foregoing entrepreneurship development, knowledge and employable skills development to the youth and the public.

Among the numerous aspects of film promotion, why did you choose film festival as a way to advance the industry?

Film festival is a large brand that cuts across the world and makes impact on all areas of the creative industry which was why I chose the film festival to promote and advance the industry. And also to also exhibit and showcase the northern cultural heritage to the world.

What impact has the festival had on the film industry in the Northern part of the country?

At the film festival, for instance, the master classes which is an annual tradition during the festival and is always done free of charge. The panel discussions where we discuss issues affecting the industry and the way forward, gives participants opportunity to meet with celebrities and network with other guests for better collaborations in future. Participants have the opportunity to meet with brands for sponsorship and other related projects.

What are the problems faced by the film industry in the North, and how can they be solved?

One major problem faced by the film industry in the North is lack of exposure, confidence in the brand, difficulties in communicating in the general language (English). We can only solve some of these issues by regular workshops and seminars, attending film festivals and organizing more film festivals, capacity building events and collaboration with nollywood and other ‘woods’ in Nigeria and beyond. Direct government financial support in the Northern creative industry.

How will you compare the Northern film industry with that of the South?

First, I will start by saying the southern film industry is already ahead of the northern part in terms of quality production, exposure and technicalities. Although we are not where we are supposed to be, but we need more support from stakeholders and the government to bring us out of the challenges in the creative industry.

Nollywood stars like Segun Arinze, Zack Orji, Tony Akposheri, among others, have worked with the festival as project consultants, resource persons and panelists, since its maiden edition in 2018. How will you describe their impact in the project?

The have all made impact to the Kaduna International Film Festival because without them, the activities would not have been complete. The 2021 edition was a special one, as such I want to thank Zack Orji for spending a week to do the master class for participants. Tony Akposheri, Ngozi Ezeh and Emeka Okoye have all been wonderful. We appreciate their presence and support.

In this year’s festival, Nigerian film practitioners harped on cultural heritage. What’s the concept?

At a time when we need peace and unity, our culture is a key tool in reminding us of our root, and that we can leave in peace and harmony without violence. The entertainment industry has a critical role to play in promoting our culture, preserving and showcasing them to the world. That was why we chose the theme of this year as “My cultural heritage”.

Apart of organizing film festivals, I talk to youths and creatives, especially at film festivals, workshop and seminars. As this year’s festival ends, we intend to be engaging the youth by organizing workshops that will impact on their lives.

What are your success stories so far?

My first success story is that I am able to start the first film festival in Northern Nigeria and sustain it for the fourth year running. I was able to create a platform for film makers to sell their projects to television channels, discover some talent based in Kaduna and Lagos. I have discovered and projected some talents during the course of the master classes, and sometimes create an avenue for them to perform at the opening and closing ceremonies. By and large, the film festival can revive the film industry as well as the entertainment industry, as a whole, if well supported.

How do you follow up on your talents and mentees to ensure they remain on track?

I make sure I have their contact to follow up, ask to know their challenges and to know how to help out. Each time we are organizing a film festival or workshop, I make sure they attend to learn and relearn again.

What challenges have you been faced with thus far?

The general challenge is lack of funding from government, both at the federal and state levels, and other stakeholders. Without funding, the film festival or the creative industry may not be sustained as it should. We also need cooperate bodies and philanthropists to invest and support the creative industry.

What is your advice to aspiring actors or youths interested in the film industry?

My advice is: never give up in whatever you are doing, believe in yourself and make use of the social media to showcase your talent to the world. People are out there watching and you never know how your fame will come. Keep pushing, you are a star!

What is your expectation (s) of the Nigerian film industry in the nearest future?

My expectation is to see the Nigerian creative industry grow to compete with Bollywood and other international woods in terms of productions and technicalities. For the Nigerian creative industry to also be independent and not always wait for government to provide funds all the time because sometimes even if funds are allocated, the practitioners never get to see the money.

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