A multicolor film festival in Verona

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The 28th edition of the Verona Film Festival, in north Italy, ended the 22nd of November. 

Peter Ewanfoh Obehi reports.

An army of cultural spectators stormed K2 cinema hall on Friday, 14 November, as the 28th African film festival of Verona flags off with high optimism.

By 8:30 pm, it has already started and it was clearly spelt out to the enthusiastic audience that enough fun was ahead in the nine days festival, fully packed with both long and short feature films and documentaries from Africa.

WHATEVER LOLA WANTS, a film directed by Nabil Ayouch was the opening film.

The multicolour film festival is no doubt an instrument to help in defusing the tensions from cultural crash and as well reintroduce the intellectuality of Africans, which are often belittled in the Western world due to the created prejudice. 

‘Though many Africans might be suffering in Europe due to the unjust system, they should never forget their root or let hope elude them’: that was the view of a 29 years old Quessy Akosa, a Ghanaian musician from Brescia whom through his music sent everybody singing at the cinema hall. With a great delight, he tuned on the audience with his yet to be released new album, ‘Africans living in Europe’.

matt-bish.jpgOf course, nothing less could have been wished for the city of Verona where despite her long history of cultural activities, there is still a huge reservation when it comes to dealing with people from other cultural background.

The festival which was almost unknown in the African community actually received a boom last year, and unlike the previous years, it was a talk of the town for having attracted a huge number of people, especially the Africans whose presence was never felt.   

The miracle according to some individuals was actually due to the decision of the organizers, the missionary centre for the Catholic diocese of Verona, the Comboni missionaries and others, to inject some Africans into the organization and so earned more credibility from the African community. After all, there is no Africa without the Africans.

The last edition was also an opportunity for the Italian audience to see and hear for the first time about the recently emerged Nollywood, the Nigerian cinematographic giant which is fast setting examples for the indigenous filmmakers and provoking the surge of telecast industry in the continent. 

At least, not all Westerners would disagree with the fact that for the authenticity of African story, it needs to be told by the Africans themselves, and in their own style! That is the main drive of Nollywood and other up-coming film industries in Africa. It also explains why an Italian American, Franco Sacchi had to travel from San Francesco to Lagos for the realization of his short documentary (this is Nollywood), about the Nigerian film industry which has taken the world by surprise.

And as expected, the curiosity of many was fully satisfied when he presented the short documentary himself at the 27th edition of the African film festival and therefore ushered in a new look towards African films among Verona audience.

Without doubt, the actual goal of the festival, which is Cultural Awareness is fast coming into question.

battle-of-the-souls.jpgAt 9:00 pm in K2 cinema, the day after the opening of the 28th edition of the film festival was THE BATTLE OF THE SOULS, one of the films in competition. The theme of the film is about ‘Good and Evil’, with a link to voodoo. Immediately it ended, there was a debate, where some curious audience contested the role of voodoo in the life of a person.

As for the main actor, Ryan, his response was simple: “I only played my part in bringing the character, Wycliffe, to live…” but for the Ugandan director, Mr. Matt Bish, the voodoo thing is not a fancy tale but the reality of an African society, which the film is about.

Soon, there was a warm applause as he interpreted the film and its cultural relevance. After all, the festival is a call for understanding between different cultures, in order to foster integration and common progress in the society.

Ewanfoh O. Peter

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