Nigerian filmmakers were at the 73rd Berlinale, and we love to see it.
●27th February 2023
The Berlin Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is an international film festival that is held every February in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 1951 initially to showcase films to the people of Berlin. Over the years, it grew to accommodate films from other parts of the world, and to show a larger audience. It is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world amongst others such as Venice, Cannes, Toronto, and Sundance film festivals.
The festival began hosting a development workshop, Berlinale Talents, for filmmakers and cinephiles in 2003. During this workshop, cinephiles from all over the world come together to learn, network and be empowered. For this year’s festival (February 16th-February 26th 2023), Nigerian filmmakers and cinephiles such as Jerry Chiemeke, Esther Kemi Gbadamosi, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, and Michael Omonua were selected for the Berlinale Talents. In 2020, Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri’s Eyimofe became the first Nigerian film to screen at the festival. This year, Babatunde Apalawo screened his film All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White, which went on to win the best feature filmTeddy Awards , an award presented exclusively to LGBTQIA+ projects.
Uzoamaka Aniunoh is an actress, who stars in showmax series Diiche, and soon-to-be-released sequel of Domitila. She also stars as Zinwe in C.J Obasi’s Mami Wata, which premiered at Sundance festival in January. She recently ventured into directing with short film Love Language, which is yet to be released.
Michael Omonua is a director, who together with Abba T. Makama, and C.J ‘Fiery’ Obasi founded the Surreal 16 Collective. Omonua has directed Rehearsal, Talk and The Man who Cuts Tattoos. He draws inspiration from the experimentation of French New Wave directors.
Esther Kemi Gbadamosi is a writer, cinematographer, editor and animator. She has worked on short animation projects like Ambush, Kòlésè, Spurn, And Power Up amongst others. It is exciting to see that animators in the industry are gaining recognition. For example, in 2022, Disney partnered with an African production company to produce Iwaju, a sci-fi animated series.
Babatunde Apalowo is a writer, editor and director. He is known for writing and directing The Millions, and editing For Maria Ebun Pataki. His film “All the colours” tells the story of two men who fall in love with each other in Lagos. However, they fear being open about it because they are in a society that frowns against same-sex relationships. This is Apalawo’s debut directorial role in a feature film.
It is a delight to see more Nigerians in the film industry attend and showcase their works in international festivals. In January, C.J Obasi’s Mami Wata won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography. This, combined with Apalawo’s win in the space of just two months, points to the fact that Nigerian cinema is getting recognition. This impacts not only the individuals, but also the other people in the industry that these filmmakers would eventually collaborate and interact with. Film festivals are known for having benefits including awards, interactive sessions, networking and tourism.
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