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Rifts over cinema fund distribution

20 May 2013, 15:01Henry Ifeanyi

Lagos - When the government committed N3 billion Naira to the local movie industry, its aim was to promote growth. Three months after the intervention fund was announced, it is now causing divisions within the industry.

The problems centre around the disbursement of the fund and the composition of the committee tasked with disbursing the money.

The fund is to be administered by the Ministry of Finance, headed by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in alliance with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism headed by Chief Edem Duke.

Other members of the committee include renowned filmmaker Amaka Igwe, a veteran actor in both Yoruba and English language movies, Jide Kosoko, an actress turned producer, as well as Stephanie Okereke-Idahosa and other professionals from the finance, judiciary and education sectors.

President Goodluck Jonathan appointed the individuals to ensure that the Nigerian film industry becomes a huge success story.

A group of “Nollywood” stakeholders associated with monitoring practices in the movie industry are reportedly not happy with the choice of some members of the committee and also the modalities of disbursement of the fund.

They suggested the grant should have been distributed through the Guilds and members should rather have been elected than handpicked.

Among supporters of this position are Chike Bryan, president of Screenwriters Guild of Nigeria (SWGN).

Bryan has the backing of Nollywood Monitors including Paul Obazele and Zack Orji.

Alex Eyengho, a filmmaker and president of Association of Nollywood Core Producers, was against the position.

“The action of the members of the Nollywood Monitors is baseless and I suggest that, if they are eager to access this fund, they should put proper personal corporate structures in place immediately because the grant is not and cannot be a dash to everybody in Nollywood.

"For as soon as the guidelines for accessing the grant are made public, you don’t have to be a member of the committee to apply and even some members of the committee may even apply and fail to get the grant if the conditions are not met.

“The money must not be released to associations and guilds but to serious-minded companies based on the business plans and proposals submitted to managers of the fund,” Eyengho said.

Igwe meanwhile invited some members of the film industry practitioners to a meeting to solve the differences.

Nigeria has an estimated US$250 million movie industry, creating some 200 videos for the home video market every month.

Nollywood, as it is popularly known, is Africa's largest movie industry in terms of both value and the number of movies produced per year.

- CAJ News



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