From Kenneth Udeh,Abuja
Beneficiaries of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst known as the German Academic Exchange Service have expressed their gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) led by Dr. Chidia Maduekwe for availing them the opportunity to be selected to benefit from the 2021 foreign scholarship scheme of DAAD.
The recipients who are Nigerian students undergoing Master Degree program in Film Culture and Archival Studies at the National Film Institute (NFI) Jos, expressed optimism that asides impacting in the Nigerian Film Industry the Film study which is expected to take a six months duration will also solve the nation’s unemployment.
It will be recalled that in NFC with the support of the German Government and its institutions have since 2018 collaborated and spearheaded the need to aggressively undertake the rescue, digitization and preservation of the nation’s audio-visual heritages.
The partnership paid off with the scholarship offer for students to undertake further studies in Film Culture & Archival Studies in Germany at the Goethe University — Frankfurt, Arsenal institute for Film & Video Art — Berlin,Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) (German Institutions).
Speaking at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Friday shortly before their departure,three students for the offshore exchange programme Nnenna Emily Ukoha, Stephen Okoh and Collins Okorocha appreciated the Federal Government and the management of the NFC for the opportunity.
Mr. Collins explained the importance of film culture and Archiving. He stressed that the nation has lost important documents with regards to its history saying that it is imperative to recover the documents in movies shot From 1930 till date and preserve them digitally for reference and cultural heritage purposes.
“Over time the nation has lost important documents with regards to film and we an an era whereby we have to traceback history to understand what’s really happening in the society today. And most of these documents are found in things that we have lost and it has been discovered that over time in the country that movies shot from 1930 you can only find just 10% of them. And these movies have over 100% cultural heritage in it. I think Nigeria will be better”.
On what to expect in Germany, Collins said he intends to return to the country to teach people what he must have learnt
“We are going to learn how to work on film in a digital manner and how to archive film in a digital manner and then return to impact people and also teach people around me. Because this is an opportunity, the first of its kind in Nigeria And Africa.”
Speaking on the impact of the course in Nigeria’s Nollywood, Collins said they initially thought the scholarship initiative was fake but are glad but it has turned into a reality. He said the study being the first of its kind will add to the nation’s GDP via training and employment of youths.
He said;”After the particular course I will be employed and adding up to the GDP and we also have new people coming in too to also be employed. I can establish my own film archive or work with the National Film archive to employ people, thereby getting people off the streets and the unemployment rate is reduced.
On his part Mr. Steven Oko, a filmmaker , thanked the Federal Government for the opportunity, pointing out that being the first set of students in the entire Africa the scholarship will assist in overcoming the challenges in Archival programmes .
“I know that, you know, people think film archiving is just about what they see on the screen. There are a lot of things involved, even Audio visual materials, you as NTA you have materials as far back as 1977 but today I’m sure you can’t trace the entire materials.
“Today is Nigeria’s Independence. It’s not bad if we show the Independence Day clips of all Nigeria’s Presidents and make a montage of it but can we locate them? Several of them are in celluloid forms while others are in VHS forms , but we need to digitise them. As time goes and we evolve digitally we need to keep replicating these things and preserving them.
“Because as an Archivist the three most important things are to acquire, preserve and create access for people. This programme is going to give the global perspective to film archiving and you can’t discuss film and leave the country Germany out of it. Germany is a strong part of film. Development in the world so we going to learn global practices and compare it to what we have been doing here in Nigeria.”
Stephen said the study will improve the quality of Nollywood movies saying that having the 2nd highest figures in the world in terms of production was not enough.
He said ;”I have an experience where I can shoot a full length in three weeks and three guys have an experience where they have all the equipment so now we can interact, integrate and exchange ideas.
Stephen also extended his gratitude to the MD of NFC Dr. Chidia Maduekwe for instituting professionalism in the Nigerian Film Institute while promising to make Nigeria proud.
Nnena Ukoha said the scheme will afford them to project Nigeria in a positive light by harnessing its untapped resources via filmmaking and storage.
“As a filmmaker I have gone through the process of learning film and it’s more like an added knowledge and advantage for me. Because I have come to learn that it’s not just about shooting films but people learning how-to archive them. Archiving them goes through a process and I think this process is what I am about to learn”
“In Nigeria we have lots of untapped resources especially when it comes to film we have not even tapped one quarter of whatever we have . This is an opportunity for me to go out there, interact with other people and then learn from them and see how we can partner to bring those opportunities down here to Nigeria.
Nnena concluded that being a female beneficiary of the scholarship it will also encourage female film practitioners to showcase their potentials in the Film Industry.
Meanwhile Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, NFC’s Managing Director/Chief Executive and Chairman, Governing Board of the National Film Institute — Jos, has charged the three students to be good ambassadors of the country. Speaking at a pre-departure interactive meeting, he reminded the students that as pioneers of the Master Degree Programme at the NFI, Nigerians were expectant that they will equally pioneer the rescue, restoration, digitization and preservation of the numerous vintage national audio-visual heritages that are seemingly rotening away.
Dr. Maduekwe, emphasized the need for the Students to be guided by the rare window of opportunity provided by the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari for them to contribute to the protection and preservation of Nigeria’s audio-visual heritages.
He commended Goethe University — Frankfurt, Arsenal institute for Film & Video Art — Berlin, Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) (German Institutions), and the University of Jos as well as the Lagos Film Society for the collaborative partnership in undertaking the Master in Film Culture & Archival Studies programme in Nigeria.