Edo State International Films Festival Pulling back the curtains for the first edition

After four consecutive days of displays of creativity and capacity building, the first edition of the Edo State International Film Festival is coming to an end. The theme of the festival “Edo to The World” is an initiative of the Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs) to promote creativity in the arts, provide a pathway for the development of creative skills, employment opportunities and building the capacity of young Nigerians.The festival was officially opened on September 1, 2022 by Betsy Obaseki, First Lady of Edo State, at the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub and Sound Stage in Benin.

At the opening event of the festival, Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State, reiterated the government’s commitment to invest in the creative industry to make it a tourism paradise.

“Over the centuries, we have been the cradle of culture, innovation and creativity in this part of the continent. What you see here today is believing in our arts. Edo State has taken the initiative to work with our partners to strategically invest in the creative industry. We took our time to take advantage of our unique opportunity in terms of our creation and our endowment. Our goal is to be the hope of culture and tourism in West Africa,” Governor Obaseki said.

The four-day event included masterclasses with industry experts, panel discussions, film premieres, virtual sessions and networking opportunities with local and international industry participants. Some of the masterclasses were also hosted by famous actors including; Mercy Aigbe, Linda Osifo, Etinosa Idemudia, who shared their approaches and experiences in various areas of acting and production.

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Ukinebo Dare, Director General of Edo State Skills Development Agency, said, “The EDO State International Film Festival is one of the hallmarks of the celebration of ancient city ​​in Benin. We are proud to organize the festival and look forward to welcoming guests from all over the world for this historic event. With this platform, we hope to improve the arts in Edo State and expand it nationwide. We appreciate the support of industry professionals and the trust placed in us to deliver an incredible event that will drive growth.”

Over 1,500 films submitted from 90 countries, 150 films were carefully selected from the entries to be screened at Kada Cinemas and Victor Uwaifo’s Creative Hub and Sound Stage throughout the festival. Pioneers bringing Edo State into the global spotlight were also recognized at the event, including; MercyAigbe, Linda Osifo, Nosa Rex, Etinosa, Mr. Billy King, Yvonne, Adesua Etomi, and Toyin Aimakun.

Additionally, winners emerged for various categories of films announced by a judging panel. Winners include; Best Male Actor won by Ben Oyaye; Best Female Actor by Victory Idahosa; Best Director won by Joseph Okwoli; Best Tare Short Film; Best Documentary won by Palm For Crude, produced by Directors Guild of Nigeria; Best Use of Technology in a Motion Picture by Battle of the West; Best Independent Film won by Zara and Best Student Film, which was won by The Funeral.

Others are: Best Movie Costume won by Osasyi Blessing; Best Cinematography won by After A While, an Egyptian film; Best Indigenous Film won by On This Mountain with a $5,000 prize.

There were also Heartbeats of our time awards: awards for legends and trailblazers and award-winning legends include; Alex Usifo, Victor Okhia, Ambassador Lancelot, Charles Inojie and Billy King. Best Film Shot at Edo Film with a cash prize of $5,000 Omoatama won the Governor’s Award, and the Governor’s Award for Best Overall Film was won by Onaiwu.

The Edo State International Film Festival was sponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Darcy J. Skinner