Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Dallas-based filmmaker Kelechi Eke brings VILLAFFEST to Owerri

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Kelechi Eke

By BENJAMIN NJOKU

The organizers of the Village Arts & Film Festival, better known as VILLAFFEST, have finalized their plans to hold the first annual festival in the quiet town of Owerri, the capital of the state of Imo.

According to Kelechi Eke, founder and director, VILLAFFEST will take place a week before Christmas, showcasing arts and screening films from eight countries, including Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States.

In a statement, Eke revealed that the festival, which will be attended by filmmakers, artists, dancers and cultural workers, will open with a tour of the city and will close with an awards ceremony to be held at the Beland de Owerri.

Eke, who is also the founder of the annual African Film Festival, TAFF, in Dallas, Texas, United States, said that VILLAFFEST seeks to celebrate the cultural vitality of Africa through indigenous arts and films for the preservation of the culture of the people.

READ ALSO: NAFEST Jos 2020: What to Expect – Lalong, Gwong Gwon Jos

According to him, the festival will rekindle the passion for local content as the only way to show and export our unique cultural traits that have long been misrepresented on big screens around the world.

Your help: “The festival is scheduled to take place from December 16 to 18. African artifacts are the most original; our stories are only better told by us, for ourselves, consumed by us and the rest of the world.

“The arts and cinema have a unique expression that goes beyond linguistic expressions. It harbors a natural emotional vehicle for communication that often requires no speech. Actions are worth a million words.

“Finding a way to harness and preserve our ancient artifacts is imperative for sustained economic and social impact in our rural communities and cities often bombarded with Western cultural emblems.

“Our young people must have hope and believe in themselves through their artistic expressions and films.

“From film-making to visual arts to performance, VILLAFFEST seeks to encourage young Africans interested in arts and film, providing them with a unique platform to tap into and push the limits of their creativity.

“Challenge them not just to dream, but to find like-minded mentoring opportunities that are sorely needed for their career growth while maximizing avenues for networking opportunities.”

VILLAFFEST, according to him, is a sister festival to the African Film Festival (TAFF) in Dallas, Texas, USA.

TAFF was formed in 2015 as a non-profit organization dedicated to African films to serve as a platform for educational references to African culture and to expose African films to non-African communities.

In its sixth year of the festival, TAFF has expanded into VILLAFFEST to celebrate indigenous arts and films; and for preserving and appreciating African culture.

Explaining further, the award-winning Dallas-based filmmaker said that organizers intend to use the platform to empower aspiring and untapped talent on the grassroots in Africa.

On why he is hosting the festival in his hometown, Owerri, Eke said he wants to include the southeastern part of the country on the world map of cities that host film festivals, revealing that the likes of veteran actor Pete Edochie, Patience Ozokwo Present will be Richard Mofe Damijo, President of the Directors Guild of Nigeria, Fred Amata, Okey Bakassi, Anne Njemanze and Angela Phillips.

Additionally, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, founder of African Movie Academy Awards, AMAA, and incumbent president of the Association of Film Producers, AMP, Nollywood sponsor Andy Boyo, and founder of the African Film Festival, AFRIFF, Ms. Chioma Use, have confirmed that they will attend the festival, which will be the first of its kind in the southeast region.

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