WIFFEN 2024 Climaxed On A High

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Carolyn Seaman, organiser of the event (right) and David Green from the American Embassy in Abuja.

Mediaage NG News – ABUJA, Nigeria

Last Saturday saw the climax of the Women’s International Film Festival In Nigeria (WIFFEN) 2024. It was a platform that celebrated fantastic work done by females, especially in film making, women who played roles in film production.

The four day event which began last Wednesday was an opportunity for young Nigerians and women film makers to advance their careers in the movie space.

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“Very rarely are women celebrated at this level of quality and substance. We are excited to put this up and we believe that women are supposed to be recognised. We sometimes work twice, ten times harder just to show that we have the skills and we matter, Carolyn Seaman, the founder of the Girls Voice Initiative, and organisers of the event told Mediaage.

“So, it is really worthy that we can celebrate women in this way”, she added.

The theme this year’s edition is Women, Culture and Film, basically looked at gender and how it is influenced by culture and opportunities for women to tell stories within their space.

“We are excited about the diversity and inclusion. One of the things we’ve been passionate about is how we can have women in the sector, women with disability being able to find their voices and advocate their interests within the space, Seaman stated.

David Green from the American Embassy in Nigeria said the US is proud to partner with the festival and added that Nollywood is a pride for Nigeria, recognised globally. “It provides jobs and unity, that’s the reason the US is proud to associate with it in helping women play vital roles in Nollywood and advance their dreams”, he said.

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MediaageNG WIFFEN 2024 Climaxed On A High Last Saturday saw the climax of the Women's International Film Festival In Nigeria (WIFFEN) 2024. It was a platform that celebrated fantastic work done by females, especially in film making, women who played roles in film production.

During the festival, 4500 entries were submitted for awards, out of which 150 were selected.

Nafas France from Iran won the award for Best Child Actress, the Best Student’s Film went to Eik Aur Baad from Indian, while the Best Original Score went to Rebecca, Arise Firebird.

Award for the Best Lighting went to Dorlis from France, Award for the Best Costume Design went to The Night Express (Ukraine), Sara (Mexico) took the award for Best Production Design, Women On the Roll (Netherlands) got the award for Best Editing, Code Red (United States) went with the Best Cinematography, A Stone Crusher’s Song (Nigeria) got the award for Best Documentary Short Film, while the award for the Best Animated Short Film went to She Flies Again.

The Best Documentary Feature Film was awarded to Newest Portuguese Letters, award for the Best Short Film went to Black Magic, award for Best Actress was given to Sira. The Best Director award went to Toutes Les Units and lastly, the award for Best Pictures went to Sira.

Dorcas Bello, producer of the award winning “A Stone Crusher’s Song” said the film is about a woman who found her way to fame at the age of 70
My film is about a resilient 70 year old woman, a stone crusher who found her way into fame. She described the film as a documentary.

“I first saw the woman on social media. From that day, I knew it was going to make a good film. First of all, I wrote it as an article for an international organisation and when the opportunity came for me to tell the story for Al-Jazeera Africa Direct, I still picked it because, I thought it’s a very unique story and everyone can connect with it. That’s the inspiration. It’s a story everyone will fall in love with”, she said.

“It’s a call to duty for all Nigerian film makers, it means that we have to empower each other. Most importantly, we need to form the right team and connection to make a good films”, Bello added.

I’m shocked that I’m the only Nigerian who made and it’s a call to duty for all Nigerian film makers. I’ve been training film makers for three years now and it bothers me that none of my students made it here, it’s just me. So, it’s a call to hardwork. It means that we have to empower each other. Most importantly, we need to form the right team and connection to make a good film.

Sonja Bentram, a German actress at the awards said a lot of difference exist between Germany and Nigeria in film production. However, the culture of the Nigerian society makes it unique for foreigners to enjoy.

MediaageNG WIFFEN 2024 Climaxed On A High Last Saturday saw the climax of the Women's International Film Festival In Nigeria (WIFFEN) 2024. It was a platform that celebrated fantastic work done by females, especially in film making, women who played roles in film production.
Sonja Bentram, German Actress

“We tell stories more about historical and more of television. It is beautiful in our own way but, very different from Nigerian film production. They (Nigeria) have good talented directors, actors and so on. I’m so happy that I could join the festival seeing all these beautiful people”, she told Mediaage.

“It’s been a wonderful organisation by WIFFEN, they are very strong women. It shows that there’s hope for females in the film industry if they keep getting more support. Seeing the men support women is huge because, we can’t do it all alone. We need help to tell our stories and do beautiful projects together”, she concluded.

The first edition of WIFFEN in 2022, had its youngest entry in a seven year US national and a sixteen year old from India. This year’s event had a twelve year old as the youngest.

“We give them same tools and don’t put them into different categories. We celebrate them, we give them same opportunities. Some of them have even gotten honourable mention. We encourage that they keep giving and contributing to the space and tomorrow, they might just be our next Oprah and Iva Duvanis or Mo Abudus. So, we hope that this continue to give to women in Nigeria and globally”, Carolyn Seaman said.

Describing the film, Sira, she said it’s powerful.

“If you’ve ever in any way had close connection or experience with any element of terrorism or kidnapping or torture, this film will definitely resonate for you and I don’t think there’s anybody on the face of the earth that does not have a level of connection to that.

“It might not be directly to you but, to some relatives, family, friends or loved ones. It also portrays that female power.

“She was able to leverage on the opportunities around her to lead her own freedom. So, it’s such a powerful movie that takes you on this hard experience of a woman who was kidnapped on the night of her wedding. She was abused and tortured but, had to survive on solitary.

“She was able to leverage on some government insiders that gave opportunities and weapons to liberate herself together with the government police that came to her rescue.

“It’s a proud one for us, actually at WIFFEN to have a film from Africa, even though it’s supported by the French government. We really celebrate that, we are seeing quality films being selected and celebrated around the world. It’s a really big night for Sira.

“I think it might just be available on YouTube so people can be encouraged to look it up. Definitely, it’s a film that will inspire”.

On her picks from the four day event, she said there were important moments from the festival which had some embassies come in.

MediaageNG WIFFEN 2024 Climaxed On A High Last Saturday saw the climax of the Women's International Film Festival In Nigeria (WIFFEN) 2024. It was a platform that celebrated fantastic work done by females, especially in film making, women who played roles in film production.
Stephanie Odia

“They didn’t just watch their films and leave, they were able to share their own interpretation of it, how it reflects their countries, governments and the people.

“We were also able to internalise it and look at areas where it aligns with our own context, areas of learning and exchange. Those were very powerful moments for me.

“During the film festival, there were many sessions that we really got down and dirty, looking at critical issues within our film industry landscape and we can address those issues, how each of us need to rise up and take actions in our own little ways and call for accountability framework, better infrastructure, funding and investment to really improve our film production, quality and capacity to compete globally. Those were pick moments for me.

“And tonight, ‘oh my gosh’! It’s definitely the highest pick because, just seeing people receive these moments of celebration for women, seeing the way women are celebrated, the fact that many people watched across the three days when we were screening and they were able to celebrate with the winners. The fact that we had winners who joined virtually and were able to share their hearts and excitement to be celebrated in our country here in Nigeria, they were really moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I look to even brighter and beautiful moments in future editions.

“We look forward to the next edition in 2026 and we hope that it would be bigger, better and brighter as we continue to celebrate women”, she finalised.

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