British Council Launches Scriptwriting Program to Strengthen U.K., Nigeria Ties

Selected writers include C.J. Obasi (above), whose horror film 'Ojuju' plays at Fantasia festival in Montreal

LONDON — The British Council has launched a U.K.-Nigeria screenwriting partnership program, Script Junction, which will run from June to November.

The aim of the program, which is part of the British Council’s U.K.-Nigeria season of cultural collaborations, is to help six Nigerian and six U.K. screenwriters further develop their skills as well as to foster cultural exchange between the film industries in the U.K. and Nigeria. The other program partners are the Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival, the National Film and Television School, the Africa Intl. Film Festival and the Nigerian Film Institute.

The workshops will kick off with a five-day module at the Edinburgh Film Festival from June 19-23. A second five-day module will be held in Nigeria during the Africa Intl. Film Festival in November. At Afriff, all 12 participants will also pitch their projects to an expert industry panel and get feedback on their work.

The project aims is to “bring together, inspire and motivate a cohort of contemporary screenwriters to explore, develop and create screenplays through a range of workshops, talks and mentoring delivered by top industry professionals and visiting guest experts.”

Script Junction is aimed at writers who are early in their professional careers, working on scripts of any setting or genre. The U.K. writers selected, alumni of either the NFTS’s M.A. screenwriting program or previous EIFF talent labs, are Shola Amoo, Maurice Caldera, Russell Davidson, Sam Firth, Matthew Jankes and Jennifer Majka. The Nigerian writers, selected after a competitive open call, are Kenneth Gyang, Adiodun Kassim, Nicolette Ndigwe, C.J. Obasi, Pearl Osibu and Lanre Quadri.

Script Junction will be led by Rob Ritchie, himself a screenwriter and former head of the screenwriting department at the NFTS. Other course tutors are Lorianne Hall from the U.K. and Ishaku Dashon Gumut from Nigeria.

“Experts in Nigeria have identified screenwriting as the one key area that needs further development in order to have real impact for Nigerian filmmakers as well as Nigerian audiences,” said Wendy Mitchell, film program manager for the British Council. “We are so thrilled to be working with our partners EIFF, AFRIFF, NFTS and NFI to allow each of these 12 writers to expand their cultural horizons, learn more about the film industries in the U.K. and Nigeria, and work on some great scripts that we hope audiences will see on screen in coming years. We know that the chance for the writers to visit each other’s countries will also be of great inspiration to them, no matter where their scripts are set.”

Script Junction follows closely on the heels of Docunexion, a similar cultural collaboration film program connecting the U.K. and Mexico, designed as a training and mentoring scheme that brings together three producer-director teams from the U.K. and three from Mexico. Docunexion kicked off at Sheffield Doc/Fest last week.

Script Junction is part of the British Council’s U.K./Nigeria season of cultural collaboration, which takes place during 2015 and 2016, and which will feature more than 30 projects and 80 events across the creative sectors, delivered in three major Nigerian cities (Lagos, Abuja and Calabar). More information on the season can be found here.

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