- As preparations for the Zuma Film Festival 2006 firms up in Nigeria, the capital city of Abuja is gearing up for the thousands of guests that are expected to attend the film festival. The festival, with a new name and unprecedented government support, is to celebrate "Nollywood", the growing Nigerian film industry, and to showcase indigenous films.
According to the Zuma Film Festival Director, John Oluwagbemiga, series of activities have already been lined up to make this maiden edition of Nigeria's National film festival exciting and a delight to attend. The events of the festival which would include the opening ceremony, workshops, screenings, film business forum, legal clinic and award night were billed to hold at the Le Meridien Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria.
The Zuma Film Festival has until now been known as the National Film Festival and is celebrated for the third time from 11 to 16 March 2006 in Abuja. The new name - making it a "new festival" is derived from the Zuma Rock, a famous landmark in the federal Nigerian capital.
The theme for the Zuma Film Festival 2006 is 'Ingenuity: The Harvest of our Creative Spirit'. According to a statement from the Nigerian government, "this is with obvious reference to the ingenious and creative ways and manners with which the Nigerian movie industry has grown rapidly in the past few years."
This ingenuity has caused the Nigerian film industry to be regarded as the fastest growing film industry in the world. Not without pride, Nigerians have found their parallel to the American Hollywood and India's "Bollywood". In Nigeria, it is "Nollywood". Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in February praised what he called "the phenomenon of Nollywood" and expected the Zuma Festival to attract further "global media attention" for Nigeria's new industry.
Indeed, the government is heavily promoting the festival hoping to gain international attention for Nigeria's growing film industry. The organisers indicate that the work will be crowned with success. Last week, festival leader Oluwagbemiga announced that about 10,000 delegates, professionals and film investors from various parts of the world would participate in Abuja.
As the festival notes a growing success, political support is only increasing. One week ago, the festival organisers were received by President Olusegun Obasanjo, who finally accepted the title of "Grand Patron" of the cultural event. Mr Oluwagbemiga had been trying to get a presidential nod for several months, but Mr Obasanjo kept the festival chief waiting until sufficient good news was ticking in.
Support is however limited to goodwill. As Vice-President Atiku pointed out last month, festival organisers and the Nigerian film industry needed to "explore the full participation of the private sector, particularly in the area of funding and promotion of events," because according to him, the government could only "do little in terms of developing the film industry."
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