A ‘no support’ claim that splits moviedom

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AN interview that the founder and festival director of the yearly Abuja International Film Festival Fidelis Duker granted The Guardian and was published penultimate Sunday has generated a rejoinder from the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC).

Duker had, in the interview published in the moviedom section, alleged that the Abuja International Film Festival (AIFF) has held in the last nine years without any form of institutional support from any government agency including the NFC.

Asked by the reporter on why he should make such a claim since the reporter was aware that every year these agencies are listed as institutional supporters of the festival which berthed in 2004 and has held in Abuja since then, Duker charged out and reiterated that there has not been any form of support from the NFC and indeed other government agencies responsible to the film industry.

Duker had said in that interview: “Don’t be deceived by the names of supporters on our event brochure. I repeat with emphasis that there is no form of institutional support from any government agencies. The NFC, as constituted, to say the least, is bent on destroying the motion picture industry and I make bold to say it. I even have the feeling that it is because of the Zuma Film Festival, which it organizers and which I do not even see as a competitor.

“NFC is out to kill all other film festivals, as it’s only a few film festivals such as AIFF that are still surviving and it is rather unfortunate. The present management whose function is developmental has unfortunately not been performing its statutory function, which is sad. Nollywood today is at its lowest ebb, but NFC would not revamp it, rather it is wasting millions of tax payers money in attending film festivals abroad with empty stand; no films to show, not even in the market or short film corner.”

It is these remarks by Duker that infuriated officials of the NFC. The NFC in a rejoinder signed by the Head of Public Affiars, Brian Etuk dismissed Duker’s claims as mere ‘ranting’. Etuk said it was ironical that the same Duker who in an email to the NFC dated September 19, 2012 and signed by Temitope Duker commended the NFC for its previous contributions and support to the growth of the Abuja International Film Festival (AIFF) would turn around and accuse the NFC of not supporting the festival and for trying to kill other film festivals.

The letter by the AIFF, which Etuk referenced in the rejoinder, reads: “I refer to your mail on the above subject (Re: Report on Support and Assistance 2008) dated 12th December, 2008 and received in our office on 8th January, 2009. I will start by expressing our appreciation to the corporation and its Managing Director since we started the Abuja International Film Festival in 2004 who have consistently supported the festival in the past (sic) five (5) years.

“It is also important to mention that the Abuja International Film Festival is arguably the first independent film festival in Nigeria apart from the government owned National Film Festival which became Zuma Film Festival.” signed Temitope Duker, Festival Coordinator, for Abuja International Film Festival, and dated 9th January 2009’

However the rejoinder by the NFC reads in part: “As mentioned earlier, we have in the past hosted NFC initiatives, a good example was the 2011 Babylon workshop which was held during the 8th AIFF at the Silverbird Cinemas in September 2011. The letter from his wife, Temitope Duker, Festival Coordinator, Abuja International Film Festival, dated 9th January 2009, and cited above; and his own e-mail quoted above disprove Fidelis Duker’s blatant lies, conscious denials, libel and deliberate misinformation.

“The NFC has cross-checked her records and we wish to place on record the corporation’s financial support/assistance to the organizers of AIFF as follows: 2011 (N250,000); 2010 (N100,000); 2009 (N100,000); 2008 (N500,000); 2007 (N400,000). NFC’s acknowledgement and logo published in the festival brochures and publicity materials of AIFF are obviously well earned. Do not be deceived!

“Apart from financial support, the corporation has also through its programme, the NFC/EU Babylon International workshop held in 2010 and 2011 in Abuja, led a delegation of her foreign partners (Scenario Films, UK, and Scripthouse, Germany), international resource persons and participants from Europe and Africa to the AIFF 2010 and 2011 editions, thereby providing AIFF institutional government support, and content.

Regulator versus operator: A ?no support? claim that splits moviedom
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