IC Minister encourages Nollywood to help rebranding Nigeria

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www.nigeriafilms.com reports that Information and Communications Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili of Nigeria has been pushing the 'Rebrand Nigeria' project. The Minister has extended a hand of partnership to Nollywood.

www.nigeriafilms.com wrote: "The minister, last weekend, at the Banquet Hall of the Ikeja Sheraton Hotel, Lagos interacted with the motion picture industry as she sought to find out what filmmakers could offer the nation, especially in the on-going search for better image perception. She told the gathering that Nollywood was arguably Nigeria's cultural ambassador:”You project Nigeria's cultural life to the world. Nollywood remains one of Nigeria's major employers of labour ...With the advent of Nollywood, Nigerians stopped going to see Indian films. You successfully brought the theatre to the homes of Nigerians".

The minister therefore sought the cooperation of the film industry to change the negative image the nation now has, arguing that Nigerians were responsible for the country's current bad image. "Negative perception about Nigeria is generated by Nigerians because we don't believe in ourselves, even in the press," she charged. "If nothing is done, the image we have as a country of 419-ers, where nothing works, failing leadership, it becomes a liability. The most systematic way is to re-brand, to tell our story and prevent others from telling it the way they want to tell it." She was therefore counting on the great spirit of volunteerism Nigerians always displayed in enlisting Nollywood for Nigeria's re-branding effort.

Prof. Akunyili argued that it was Nigeria's inability to tell its story properly that had affected it negatively and that it was the reason why Nigerian citizens often suffered in foreign lands. (...) and further added, "We need Nollywood on board. You are critical to this campaign. Almost everybody is watching you; you can project the image of this country. You can show negative things positively, constructively.

Through the content of your films and videos, you'll project Nigeria positively to show the world that we're 'Good people, great nation'. To tell our great stories, we need Nollywood. You're one of our best icons and brands; speak to our country about this campaign. If you show Nigeria as a failed state or a country of 419s, that's how the world would see Nigeria and Nigerians." (...) The minister said there was a need to invest in the talents in the industry to make it viable, especially in the areas of scripting to make the stories better. "This entertainment behemoth is under-funded," she declared.

"We are talking to the World Bank; we will bring succour to the industry. In the months ahead, we will see the virtue of believing in ourselves; (...)."(...) In effect, for Nollywood to play its part in the rebranding mission, which the minister had come to solicit, the minister had to help to rebrand the industry, which was in dire need of repositioning itself. DGN President enumerated other problems facing the industry.

These were the lack of a National Film Development Fund, the Nigerian Film Policy and the Film Village. The co-director of "Mortal Inheritance' said the film fund was of more immediate and direct bearing on proceedings regarding Nigeria's rebranding via the Nollywood way as the minister was canvassing. He also noted that the new distribution framework being proposed by the censor's board needed being reassessed for effectiveness.

Concluding, he stated, "We hold a solemn conviction that Nollywood with its robust quality of writers, producers, directors, cinematographers and creative designers, whose works around the world show hope for our nation will surely create a fresh new window through which the world will see and believe in Nigeria."(...) Other areas where Nollywood needed assistance, she said, were in film distribution network, "no bank is listening to us; there's a Bank of Industry; what is it doing? Use your power to make SME funds available to us."

Echoing Igwe on the piracy plague, Zack Orji told the minister that movies were not being produced in Nollywwod right now because of piracy. "Piracy is an affront to the effort being made to rebrand Nigeria," he charged. "Alaba is the headquarter of piracy. They are so organized in their illegitimacy, our livelihood is being threatened."

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