By Hope Nda
Cameroon’s entertainment industry has been showcased to the world during this year’s Cameroon International Film Festival, CAMIFF, which ended on Saturday, 24 April, in Buea, with The Fisherman’s Diary beating 60 movies from all over the world to emerge Best Overall Film.
The Fisherman’s Diary’s lead actor and producer, Kang Quintus, also emerged best overall actor at the international film jamboree that brought together outstanding movies from at least 15 countries around Africa and the world.
“This movie has been awarded internationally but it always feels particularly very good when you have an award in your homeland,” said the movie’s Director, Enah Johnscot, after receiving the award on behalf of Producer and lead actor, Kang Quintus, last Sunday in Buea.
The five-day event, which ran from April 19-24, has witnessed great improvement this year when compared to its last three editions.
“We have improved over the years. CAMIFF has improved. More to what we had in the past, this time we had local trainers, strong hands in the industry; people with huge experiences. That in itself has been an attraction to the youths,” said Chi Chi Ladislav, one of the event’s organisers, during a press conference.
This year, 2061 films were submitted from all over the world for the festival but just 60 ended up being selected to compete in three categories: feature films, short films and documentary films.
“We have come this far! I never had any foresight CAMIFF was going to come this far, but here we are,” wondered renowned Nigerian Actor, Producer and Director, Ramsey Nouah, who has been one of the brains behind the festival.
Events At CAMIFF 2021
The Cameroon International Film Festival was an opportunity for aspiring actors, presenters and cinematographers to build greater skill in the career, as there were several training sessions to usher the younger generation into the field.
“We have had workshops: acting workshop, directing workshop, cinematography workshop and a lot more. Every evening is being graced by a party,” said Chi Chi Ladislav.
The five-day event was marked by diverse activities that made the festival interesting, featuring film screenings, workshops, masterclasses, red carpet, Ecotourism bus tour, parties, awards night, and a gala night.
The third night of the event, Wednesday, April 21, was cultural night, where everyone was obliged to dress in traditional regalia. Cameroonian culture was showcased through dressing and dancing performed by the night’s two cultural guests – Bate Nico from Manyu, Southwest and Witty Minstrel from Bui in the Northwest.
“CAMIFF wants to have its footprint on the ground. CAMIFF is a festival that wants to see a lot of people coming in who want to network with other film industries, having partners, potential stakeholders who can come, see actors, projects and also help lobby for Cameroonian content in different countries and on different platforms,” said Chi Chi Ladislav.
CAMIFF was also an opportunity for Cameroonian filmmakers to learn from experts from other countries on how to create better quality content and on the need to collaborate with stakeholders from outstanding movie industries.
Beyond CAMIFF: Building Stronger African Movie Industry
One of the key visions filtered out through CAMIFF is that of building, not just a strong Cameroon Film Industry, but a strong, united and collaborative African film industry that will produce films that can withstand the competition of Western and Eastern movies.
Although there are long-standing and successful African film industries such as those of Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, stakeholders used CAMIFF as part of the plan to promote unity among existing film industries in Africa.
“It’s about time we start bridging the gaps in Africa. I don’t see any reason why I want to make a movie in Africa and I need visas to go to seven countries. Are we brothers or not?” said Nigeria’s Ramsey Nouah, adding that “that is my key fight.”
During a press conference with CAMIFF organisers, the Nigerian award-winning actor said his dream is to see, not only his Nigerian Nollywood grow, but also to see the overall film making sector in Africa thrive.
Responding to worries about Cameroonian movie actors who try to imitate Nollywood actors, Ramsey Nouah said, “There’s need for originality, but there’s no harm in plagiarism. In all honesty, we all had some form of copy. My style of acting was, of course, influenced by Hollywood, even the British. But we got to a point we carved a niche.”
“Collaborations have not been very strong between Nigeria and Cameroon, but we are getting there, we will get there. And these forums are what create that, and that awareness to see the potentials in what we have and put it to proper good use. Like we’ve talked about co-productions, partnerships… but how do we solidify that? That’s why I said I will talk about the structure. We need to try and work out a structure for the film industry, CAMIFF, that can protect the interest of all filmmakers here, now and in the future,” he further said.
CAMIFF, An Opportunity For Social Cohesion
The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, says it used the opportunity presented by the film festival to build social cohesion among people in the crisis-hit Northwest and Southwest regions.
The development-centred organisation co-sponsored the event alongside other institutions.
“Social cohesion which has a direct implication with CAMIFF 2021. That is why we are here, to ensure that we get this unique opportunity to build on social cohesion in the area of cinematography, and meeting the media to engage a dialogue to see how we can work together,” said UNDP representative at CAMIFF.
“In the coming months and years, definitely UNDP will collaborate with CAMIFF to produce short films that can also enhance social cohesion and peace in these two regions. That is why UNDP is supporting CAMIFF 2021,” the representative added.
The best overallfilm at the event was The Fisherman’s Diary, a Cameroonian movie that has already won several awards around the world, also claiming six awards in India this April.
The movie’s producer and front actor, Kang Quintus, emerged best overall actor during the CAMIFF awards. Other award winners at the just-ended film festival included the following:
Best short film – La Foret D’ebo
Best Cameroon short film – Mona
Best documentary film – Lindela Under Lockdown
Best overall actor – Kang Quintus (The Fisherman’s Diary)
Best overall actress – Faith Fidel (The Fisherman’s Diary)
Best Cameroon film – Chariot Of The Gods
Best Cameroon actor – Vugar Samson Vibimi (Fullmoon)
Best Cameroon actress – Laura Onyama (Saving Mbango)
Honorary award – Ramsey Nouah and Salatiel
Life time achievement award – Quinta Eyong Ashu
Fallen hero award – Xavier Ngassa Ngongaq