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Fest targets export biz

Africa event hopes to draw buyers looking for local content

Buoyed by growing sales at home and an increased profile abroad, organizers of Nigeria’s first film fest think the time is right for African cinema to boost its presence on the international film scene.

Following on the heels of the sixth ION Intl. Film Festival, which Nigeria hosted last year, the first edition of the Africa Intl. Film Festival will be held from Dec. 1-5 in Port Harcourt.

Organizers say they’re expecting to screen nearly 50 films from 30 countries, attracting filmmakers from South America to South Korea, as well as homegrown content from across the continent.

Technical director Soledad Grognett says the fest offers an opportunity for distribs to capitalize on growing interest in African films.

“(The fest) will become a must-stop for buyers that are looking for African content,” she says. “The vision of the festival is that the buyers that are looking for African content will not find it in Berlin, or in Toronto, but they will come to Africa for it.”

Grognett says that confusion over the licensing framework across much of Africa — particularly within the Nigerian industry — would enhance the fest’s profile with Western buyers.

“These people are very interested, but they’re very skeptical about licensing materials,” she says. “It’s very difficult for them to know where to buy properly tiered material for them to air.”

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