Nigeria’s UBA to Help Filmmakers Access Finance


United Bank for Africa Plc has restated its commitment to the growth and development of the African movie industry, promising to advance its support to the industry through the creation of an enabling environment for film and movie financing.

Speaking at the just concluded 2009 African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) Ceremony held at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Group Director, Marketing and Corporate Relations, UBA, Martin Anyanwu said though the UBA-AMAA partnership is a platform for recognising and rewarding filmmakers, actors and actresses, the bank is going a step further in providing the tools and environment required to access finance.

"Financing is a critical problem faced by the industry not just in Nigeria but across Africa. Apart from this, there are other challenges too, for instance - many filmmakers require coaching and support when it comes to business planning and writing", he noted.

Commenting on the modalities for the partnership, Anyanwu said that UBA-AMAA will in the present arrangement collaborate with various sectoral groups including the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and EMPRETEC Nigeria Foundation for training platforms through workshops/seminars aimed at enhancing the entrepreneurial and business planning skills of industry practitioners.

"We have already taken twenty such filmmakers in Nigeria through such programmes and they have in turn submitted proposals which are currently being evaluated by our Entertainment Desk, he said"

In her comment, President African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) Mrs. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe assured that African films have the potentials of changing the negative perception of the continent based largely from images fed to the world over the years through the conventional news media.

She said that there is therefore the need to produce the right films and at the same time reward and celebrate practitioners so they can be encouraged to do more. She praised the Bayelsa state government and UBA for supporting AMAA which according to her was conceptualized to celebrate the brightest and best African movies.

The 2009 UBA-AMAA would go down as one of the biggest gathering of movie makers across the African continent and Diaspora. Hollywood star, Forest Whitaker who won the Oscar for his portrayal of the former Ugandan Head of State Idi Amin Dada in the film 'The last King of Scotland' and Danny Glover, another Hollywood legend, witnessed the handing over of the UBA-AMAA plaque to deserving winners.

Forest Whitaker said coming for the ceremony was a homecoming of sorts for him, given that it has given him the opportunity of connecting with his ancestral roots. He pointed out that experience and imagination are the essential ingredients in film making and therefore urged contemporary story tellers in the continent to exploit these, to tell the African story positively.

Nigerian actress Funke Akindele won the award for the Best Performance by an Actress for her role in the movie Jenifa whilst Farouk Alfishawi an Egyptian emerged winner in the male category for his role in the movie, Seventh Heaven. The Kenya film, "From a whisper, directed by Wanuro Kahiu picked up six awards winning the Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Original Soundtract and the AMAA Achievement in Editing categories. Mercy Johnson of who won the Best Performance by an Actress in a supporting role for her part in the film Live to remember; Litha Booi and Lungelo Dhaladha who both carted away the Most Promising Actor and Actress awards in the male and female category in the South African film Gugu and Andile; Michelle Bello's Small Boy won the AMAA Achievement in Art Direction award just as the star of the same film, Richard Chukwuma won in the category of Best Performance by a Child Actor; Cindy's Note by Izu Chukwu clinched the AMAA Achievement in Cinematography awards whilst Tunde Kelani's Arugba was adjudged the Heart of Africa's Best Film from Nigeria.

In all, the award jury considered 55 entries from which nominations and eventual winners were chosen. The diverse and multiracial Board of Jurors include Ayoku Babu, Director of the Pan Africa Film Corporation in Los Angeles, USA, Keith Shiri (United Kingdom)- Director, London African Film Festival, Dorothee Wenner (Germany) - Filmmaker and Programmer of Berlin International Film Festival, Asantewa Olatunji Esq. (USA) - Attorney and Director of Programmes of Pan African Film Festival, Berni Goldblat (Burkina Faso) - Filmmaker and Producer, Steve Ayorinde (Nigeria) -Journalist, Film Critic and Editor of Punch Newspapers, Shaibu Husseini (Nigeria) - Performing Artiste, Film Journalist and Critic, Hamida Sulliman (South Africa) - Film Editor, Dr. Hyginus Ekwuazi (Nigeria) - Former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Film Corporation and current Head of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan and June Givanni (UK) - International Film Curator of Pan African Cinema.

Since debuting 5 years ago UBA-AMAA is increasingly attracting international awareness and it is becoming more recognized in the continent and beyond. This is clearly reflected in the growing number of entries submitted from countries other such as Ghana, Cameroun, and Burkina Faso Ghana, Cameroun, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Rwanda, Niger and Zimbabwe.

With UBA partnership, AMAA is extending its frontiers to areas such as the development of an African Film Academy, large scale training, commercial distribution, marketing, production and general welfare of the African Film content. In Nigeria where the film industry is yet to be properly structured, UBA is also working with the National Film & Video Censors board and the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board to enforce the current anti Piracy Laws. These efforts have culminated into the signing ceremony of the MOU last year, which will make it difficult to sell pirated movie on the streets of Lagos henceforth.