The Federal Government has said it is working in collaboration with the French and Canadian Governments to train about one thousand filmmakers in Nigeria in the area of animation.

Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this in Abuja at the opening of the 2nd edition of Animated Film Festival organized by the Institut Français du Nigéria in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, said the country has a lot of stories to tell using animated technology and the government will do everything possible to build capacity for filmmakers in this area.

Lai Mohammed expressed dissatisfaction that as creative as the Nigerian film industry is, it is yet to embrace animated films, even when there is already a huge market for it.

His words: “As prolific as Nollywood and Kannywood is, it is sad that they are not that prolific in the area of children films or animated films. This is where the Japanese Ambassador and I have agreed to provide capacity building for Nigerian film makers”.

Continuing, Lai Mohammed disclosed: I had the opportunity to meet with the Ambassador of Japan a few weeks ago and I remember one of the areas we agreed to collaborate was in the area of animated films because already, there is a huge market for animated films and I think contrary to the view that animated films are only meant for children is not correct. When you watch these films as an adult, you begin to be much more interested in them than adult films and with the passion our children follow and watch these animated films, you will begin to see why this is very important”.

ChiSpeaking earlier, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Denys Gauer, said the festival was organized in the Frame of the French “Fête du Cinema d’animation”,a national festival, which takes place simultaneously in many cities in France and in the French cultural network all over the world in order to give animated films more visibility.

He informed that France and Japan have enjoyed an exceptional relationship, especially in the area of cultural partnership for decades with regular exchange of high level visits playing an important role in further consolidating their mutual beneficial relations.

Further buttressing how both countries share same interest for art and culture, innovation and creativity, Gauer maintained that the two countries are also involved in the animation industry, which, he said, is an extremely promising sector, where both countries have developed their own style of drawing and storytelling.

He also regretted the fact that animated movies are rare in Nigeria, despite the country being the 2nd largest film industry in the world saying, “there is a dearth of animation and children movies although Nigeria is well known for its talent, imagination and creativity. More and more animated studios are opening in Abuja and Lagos but this sub-sector is still facing some challenges”.

He disclosed that for them not to forget the fledgling Nigerian animation industry, the ongoing Animated Film Festival has dedicated Friday, 4th November, 2016, to screen Nigerian animated films as well as a panel discussion, which is organized in partnership with some Nigerian animation studios.

In his speech, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Ambassador Sadanobu Kusaoke, who said the potentials of the on-going cultural exchange between Japan and Nigeria will be extended to films, expressed hope that the screening of Nigerian animated films during the festival will kick-start trilateral exchange in animated film creation among Nigeria, France and Japan, saying he was hopeful that there is much they can learn from Nollywood and Nigeria’s film making.

The festival opened on Wednesday, 2nd November, 2016, with the screening of Phantom Boy, a marvellously animated adventure from the creators of the academy award-nominated A Cat in Paris. The latest creation of the film from Folimage Animation Studio was combination of an ethereal superhero with a wacky crime thriller and some fantastic images of New York.

On Thursday, 3rd November, a Japanese film, Spirited Away, that has won many Japanese as well as International Awards, including the Golden Bear Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2002 and the Academy award for the best animated feature in 2003 will be screened; while another Japanese film, entitled, Wolf Children, which has also won many international awards, such as, the Silver Mirror and Audience Awards at Oslo Films from the South Festival in Norway, and the Audience Award at 2013 New York International Children’s Film Festival, will be screened on Saturday, 5th November.

Other dignitaries present at the opening of the festival were the Director, External Cultural Relations, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. George Ufot; Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma; NICO’s Director of Orientation & Cultural Affairs, Mr. Alex Omijie; Deputy Director/SA to ES, Mr. Law Ikkay Ezeh Jr.; and Asst Director of Orientation, Mrs. Francisca Okoro, among others.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja