VOL. NO: 55      DATE:
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Nollywood Rules Fespaco

'EZRA', the only Nigerian film at the African film festival, has won the top prize, the Yennenga Stallion, for best feature film.

Ezra, directed by Newton Aduaka, is the story of a child soldier in the decade-long Sierra Leone civil war. To judge by the reaction of the large crowd at the closing ceremony, it was a popular choice.

The Pan-African Film and Television Festival, Fespaco, is a biennial event that has been running since 1969 and is considered the major showcase for the continent's films, many of which are not widely distributed.

Ironically, when the festival began there was a huge cry from Nigerian film lovers for the absence of Nigerian films from the big screen. Nigerian filmmaker Mahmoud Alie Balogun said:

You don't have Nollywood movies here because of the discrimination against the kind of movies that we do from those who package this festival, they don't feel comfortable with what we do.

The main reason for this discrimination is the fact that Nigerian films are made on video tapes and not 35mm. As Fespaco executive Baba Hamma says:

Our festival is for films. That means you have to bring films on 35mm and Nollywood usually makes movies on a video tape. And hence it was a situation very much similar to the David and Goliath story.

Newton Aduaka is indeed a happy man to beat the tough competition and win the Etalon d'or de Yennenga, the top prize in African film festival. The importance of the subject and the quality of the direction were cited by the jury as the main reasons for its decision.

The Nigerians have a reason to smile.


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