The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has formally unveiled the Edo State International Film Festival for 2023 On October 15, 2023, at Eko Hotels, Lagos.
The event was attended by filmmakers, actors, journalists, foreign businessmen in the creative sector, and many other important dignitaries.
Addressing the gathering, Governor Obaseki said his government has invested a lot on infrastructure in filmmaking, which was the major subject of the event. “We have invested in professional sound stage, editing infrastructure for those who want to do films and their productions, and accommodation space. On the same premises, we have a performance theatre.”
Obaseki said Edo wants to compete in the film space. “We said whatever it takes, we will come here and convince you that Edo is the place to come and have pure production. You have me, ready to support you. You have talents. What you find in Lagos is just the tip of the iceberg. I have lots of kids, and many of them are interested in the creative and s. We are working and collaborating with you – building the infrastructure that you need to build a resounding film industry.
“For us, it is about talents, and that was the motivation for the first international film festival which we organized last year.”
The Governor said there were entries from about 89 countries and about 1,000,000 pieces of work. “It was our first experience and interaction with the industry. We promised last year that we would do it again this year and every other year going forward.
“So, I am here tonight to formally invite you, and also let you know that the Edo State International Film Festival for 2023 will be taking place next month in Benin City. Today, we have received over 3000 submissions from 126 countries. There is a prize money of $35,000. I told my portfolio managers that every year, you have to take some money out of my account to support this.”
He said his government is supporting the local film industry “to ensure that we continue to upscale our domestic media industry to quickly catch up with what is happening in the rest of the world.”
Laying the background to the state’s investment in filmmaking infrastructure, the Governor said like other states, 70 per cent of the population of Edo is under percent of 30. “Edo is 6th in terms of GDP in the country. We aspire to be number 3 in the next 7 years. As I keep saying, we are the hub of this country. You can’t go from the west to the east, or to the south-south, or to the north, without gg through Edo State., we are very core. As you know, location is it.”
All of these are important, he said, because of access to a huge market, with quite a lot of economic activities. He said when his administration came on board in 2016, they began to build institutions to stem the dangerous migration of young people out of Edo and Nigeria at large through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea. “We create d infrastructure that will support industry or production” – roads, digital infrastructure – 2000 kilometers of fiber optics that we connected the state with. Today, outside of Lagos, Edo State is the largest generator of electricity. In Benin alone, we have a generating capacity of over 1000 megawatts.”
Obaseki said his administration has also done a lot in education and healthcare. “But something we have that no one else has in Nigeria is culture, the creatives. We’ve had it for centuries. When you talk about African culture, globally, I think Edo stands out. Today, the whole conversation globally about repatriation of artifacts taken out of the continent centers around the Benin Bronzes. They are symbolic of our people’s creativity, of our people’s history, and culture. And now, for us, the blood that flows in the veins of those who created those beautiful pieces of artwork, those huge monuments, is the same blood that flows in us today.
“So, how do we utilize this unique special advantage we have which is in the creatives to jumpstart our economy and put us in a competitive position in the world and Nigeria today? That’s what this is all about – to tell you what we’ve done in support of the creatives; in supporting arts, film, and why we need your support.
“First and foremost, when we talk about culture, we want you to see the culture when you come to Benin in Edo. That means the infrastructure for the creatives must be there. So, we decided to redesign our city center into a cultural district.
“Interestingly, center speak, there is quite a bit of archeological work going on, and this hasn’t happened in 50 years in Nigeria outside of Benin and Egypt and somewhere in Southern Africa. You don’t have any active archeological work going on – just to discover the past to understand how we lived and how we built this civilization.
“We are creating a 13-arcre piece (space) where you have museums,13-acre museums, West African museum. We are building a pavilion n for permanent exhibition and storage of works. The construction is progressing, and by June next year we will invite you to come to Benin… we want to recreate the environment where these works of art were created.”
“How do we relate those creative instincts to today? You want to express those instincts in music, in films, and literature.” Governor Obaseki said the youths are already doing a lot without government support. “the If government just added a little bit of support, imagine what much more you can do.
“So, we redesign the property into to sound stage – the Victor Uwaifo Sound Stage. We invested in infrastructure, equipment, a recording studio for audio, music, editing studios, etc., so that we can help reduce the cost of production for most of you in the creatives.”