The Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs) kicked off the maiden edition of the Edo State International Film Festival (ESIFF), in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development Corporation (SDC) and the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Skills Development for Youth Employment (SKYE) Programme, with an opening ceremony on Thursday September 1, 2022 at the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub in Benin City, Edo State.
The 4-day event, which will hold from September 1 – 4, 2022, kicked off with an official premiere of the short film ‘We Will Not Be Silent’, a live-action short submitted by award-winning filmmaker, Bode Asiyanbi. Focused on Gender-Based Violence, the session was also hosted by Her Excellency, Mrs Betsy Bene Obaseki, the First Lady of Edo State. After the premiere, the first lady spoke extensively of the work and process put in place to address violence against women and girls in Edo State.
Opening the festival, the Chief Host and Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, indicated that the state was not short of creative talents, and has always been recognised as a cradle of culture and creativity in Nigeria.
“Edo State has taken the lead working with our partners to strategically invest in the creative industry,” he said. “Taking advantage of the resources, our goal is to be the home of culture and tourism in the whole of West Africa. The Victor Uwaifo Sound Stage is our first experiment to build our own creative sector. With its success, we have commissioned our film Village which will sit on a 30-acre piece of land and the designs have already commenced”. The Governor also lauded the support and partnership of the BMZ and GIZ in promoting youth employment in the state.
Speaking at the event, Managing Director, Edo State Skills Development Agency, Ukinebo Dare said, “The Nigerian creative industry has grown to become of the biggest globally, employing over 1.5 million people in music, films, arts, photography and more. It is projected that the film industry alone produces about 2,500 films annually and is worth $6.4 billion. We understand the immense opportunities available here, and we intend to leverage them as part of our holistic approach to employment creation and upskilling in Edo State”.
Expressing her joy at holding the inaugural Edo International Film Festival, Ukinebo explained that the agency will always welcome and support partners, investors and entrepreneurs with the necessary resources in order to “improve business competence, capacity building, high technology adoption, product development and diversification, mentorship and networking as well as external funding for businesses in the state”.
The Head of Programme for the GIZ SKYE programme, Tobias Wolfgarten noted that, “Nigerian SMEs account for 48 percent of the national GDP, 96 percent of businesses, and 84 percent of employment in the country. If we are to stabilize the local economy and boost job creation among youths, it is imperative that stakeholders utilise a multi-level integrated approach to employment promotion and improve conditions for needs-based technical and vocational education”.
Wolfgarten also commended the Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs), reiterating that GIZ was delighted to partner with the agency due to its focus and achievements in promoting innovation, capacity and competence building. He explained that the partnership will enhance and encourage the growth of the creative industry, and also promote employment opportunities for artistic and innovative young Nigerians.
Activities at the Festival will include a screening of over 150 curated movies at the Kada Cinemas and the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub & Sound Stage, including masterclasses with industry experts, panel discussions, movie premieres, virtual sessions, and networking opportunities with local and international industry stakeholders.
With over 1,500 movie entries from over 90 countries and judges pooled from various countries across the world, winners will be rewarded with exciting cash prizes of up to $2,000 dollars per movie in three categories including Best Student Film Making, Best Use of Technology, and Best Cell Phone/ Tab Movie.
Guests in attendance included Yvonne Jegede, Rex Nosa, Lancelot Imasuen, Emeka Rollas, Aubrey Silinyana amongst others.