July 14, 2024
Colloquium

Arts of storytelling can shape perspectives, uplift communities, says Ujuaku Akukwe

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  • November 27, 2023
  • 3 min read
Arts of storytelling can shape perspectives, uplift communities, says Ujuaku Akukwe

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed guests and distinguished participants!

ON behalf of my co-founder Chris Odili, our board of directors of the Eastern Nigeria Film and Arts Initiative, my team members, and a host of volunteers, I welcome you to the fourth edition of the Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival (ENIFF), organised by Eastern Nigeria Film and Arts Initiative.

The Eastern Nigeria Film and Arts Initiative, from its inception, has been a dynamic force committed to driving change and nurturing the growth of the creative economy within the film, media, and entertainment industry in Nigeria. To date, we have trained over 1850 youths, equipping them with practical media and film skills. We are poised to double that number in the coming year, with a special focus on pairing outstanding participants with mentors to further empower them.

We believe that the creative industry is a catalyst for change, especially in a nation with an overwhelming youth population like Nigeria. Managed wisely, arts, culture, and storytelling can shape perspectives, engage the youth, and uplift communities. Because of this, I commend the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu for initiating the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, recognising its potential to transform the lives of young people across the nation. This is a significant step towards boosting the creative economy of our dear nation.

Co-founder and festival director, Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival (ENIFF) Ujuaku Akukwe giving her opening remarks in Enugu

I seize this opportunity to call upon the political and thought leaders of the South East to intentionally and deliberately build and support the creative industry. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s creative economy is projected to be worth USD$15 billion by 2025. The question is: what policies are South East political leaders putting in place? I think that our region, with its vast potential, should take advantage of the evolving global creative space to inspire its young population.

I express my deepest gratitude to our major partners, the United States Mission for supporting us for the third consecutive time and AfiaTV, for its continuous support. In light of recent events, the Eastern Nigeria Film and Arts Initiative wishes to express our deepest condolences to the United States Consular General Lagos for the tragic loss of their staff members in Anambra State. This unfortunate incident highlights the pressing need for addressing insecurity in the region.

I also appreciate the Nigeria Film and TV Summit, Solotone Ventures, CripsTV, Moxiebite Nig Ltd and a host of other supporters. Thank you for believing in us. To all the filmmakers who submitted their films from around the world. We say Thank you.

And for the filmmakers and facilitators who have traveled from various parts of the world and the country to be with us today. Your presence is a testament to our shared commitment to advancing humanity through the arts.

As we look ahead to the prospects in 2024, We are gearing up for exciting opportunities! We are planning film workshops for 1,000 youths in Abakiliki, Enugu, Owerri, Aba, and Awka. Our goal is to open up the region, build the capacity of our youths to tell authentic African stories using best practices, and eliminating mediocre productions.

As we kick off this 4th edition, let us remember the power we hold to shape the future. Let us stand united in our commitment to the creative arts and encourage our leaders to do the same.

Thank you, and let the festival begin!

* Akukwe is co-founder and festival director of Enugu-based Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival (ENIFF)

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