Celebrities and dignitaries have been drawn to Benin over the past four days as the Edo International Film Festival (ESIFF) has taken the front stage. As the festival progressed, talk over whether Edo State—like the well-established film industries in Lagos and Asaba—might become the next centre for Nollywood emerged.
During ESIFF, Governor Godwin Obaseki’s vision for Edo State is becoming more and more clear. Acknowledging the vast economic and employment prospects offered by the creative sector, Obaseki is dedicated to converting Edo into a sanctuary for filmmakers. The festival creates an atmosphere where filmmakers are encouraged to contribute to the developing Nollywood scene by giving local talent a stage on which to display their artistic abilities.
More than half of Nollywood’s well-known actors are from Edo State, which is known for its abundance of talent. A few notable figures from the state’s abundant talent pool are Dakore Egbuson, Timini Egbuson, Nancy Isime, Victor Sanchez, and Director Lancelot Imaseun.
Nigerian film festival director Uche Agbo praised Governor Obaseki for his extraordinary support of the creative sector, saying, “I have never seen a governor so vested in seeing creatives thrive.” This dedication is demonstrated by the Edo Film Project, which was started by the Ministry of Arts and Culture. It offers a thorough method for developing local talent by preparing and training actors and filmmakers.
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The Edo government has partnered in an attempt to further elevate the sector by establishing partnerships with foreign organizations like the Film Akademie in Germany. These collaborations focus on training indigenous makeup artists, stuntmen, actors, and directors through exchange programs, enriching the local film ecosystem.
One noteworthy accomplishment was filming “Enakle” an African Magic series, in Edo State, where an astounding 70% of the crew was from. Even though Edo State still has a way to go before it can compete with the likes of Lagos and Asaba in the film industry, the progress it achieved at ESIFF shows that it has what it takes to be a major force in the Nollywood scene.
The state’s dedication to the film industry is further evidenced by the creation of the Edo Film Festival, which is just in its second year and is already gaining significant attention and support. The issue of continuity after Governor Obaseki’s term emerges as Edo State markets itself as a developing centre for the film industry. But now that ESIFF has changed to a private-public entity, there appears to be a sustainable framework in place for the continued growth of Edo’s prominence in Nollywood.
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