Africa International Film Centre, Tiga-Kano
The Kannywood Centre
Alhaji Sani Mu’azu
A Proposal aimed at developing the Hausa Film Industry, employing thousands of youths and opening vistas of opportunities where Hausa culture and traditions are showcased, as against stifling the growth and development of the sector through draconian policies.
1.2 The Federal Government of Nigeria recognised the importance of the film industry in the country and have equally demonstrated this through the setting up of several committees to provide an enabling environment and infrastructural development. To underscore the commitment of government in addressing the problems of the industry towards its overall growth and development, five Associations, UMPAN, ANTPN, CMPPN, ITPAN and MOPPAN are recognised by Government and assembled for this objective. MOPPAN is the only association based in the North.
1.3 The Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria, MOPPAN, is the association responsible growth and development of the motion picture industry, with several affiliate guilds like that of Producers, Directors, Actors, Cinematographers, Writers, Editors, Film designers and Music Composers spread in 19 states in Northern Nigeria with its headquarters in Kano. The association had conducted several training programmes, Awards of excellence and research and documentation for the benefit of its affiliates.
1.4 Today, over 30 percent of Nigerian films are Hausa films. Nigerian films including Hausa films, account for more than half of Africa’s motion picture output. Indeed, Nigeria is rated among the three largest producers of film titles in the world with India’s Bollywood and America’s Hollywood. Likewise, the industry ranks as one of the highest employers of labour in the country, employing well over 200, 000 graduates, skilled and semi-skilled labour. This has in no small measure, impacted positively on the poverty alleviation of Nigerians. Besides, this industry which the world acknowledges as Nollywood has opened up investment opportunities in areas such as production, marketing, distribution and exhibition of films. The Northern part of the Nigerian Film industry that produces the bulk of its products in Hausa and a few Northern Nigerian languages is branded by MOPPAN with the tag of Kannywood for distinct identity and proper national positioning.
1.5 All these, as part of the success story of the Nigerian motion picture industry, have been made possible by the unwavering commitment of private entrepreneurs who took the plunge with the home video technology and ingeniously turned it into a thriving industry. This phenomenon has grown into a visible and remarkable element of popular culture, projected the abundance of untapped human resources in the art and business and has made the prospects for growth more viable today than ever before. Despite all these activities and investments, the industry remained unstructured and loosely regulated.
1.6 It is in recognition of these positive strides, the potential of becoming a strategic tool for development and the expanding huge markets for video movies that MOPPAN has taken the initiative to organize the industry in Northern Nigeria in order for it to contribute more positively to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP and become a major player in our national economy under an AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL FILM RESOURCE CENTRE in Kano.
1.7 Examples from other known film cultures show that the benefits of a regulated and organized film industry are enormous than what obtains in an unstructured environment. The absence of a Film Centre owned and operated by stakeholders themselves, has thus robbed the country of the opportunity to maximise the potentials which the film industry holds as a promise for the realization of both individuals and the corporate goals.
1.8 Instead, we have witnessed the taking over of our movie space by charlatans who throw professionalism and ethics to the dogs. Standards, both in techniques and values have been compromised over the years.
Consequently, MOPPAN recognizes the dire need for the establishment of an Africa International Film Resource Centre in Kano.
RATIONALE AND JUSTIFICATION FOR AN INTERNATIONAL FILM CENTRE
2.1 The need for an International Film Centre?
2.2 The lack of integration and cohesion within the film industry has no doubt created distortions and dysfunction, giving rise to varying levels of concerns being expressed by stakeholders. With a changing economy, technology and policy environment, the prevalence of poor production quality, dearth of requisite skills for enhanced capacity building, near-absence of an efficient, proactive and profit-oriented distribution and marketing structure, and the non-alignment of the industry to the larger industrial sub-sector of the national economy - all of which have led to its limited contribution to national re-orientation and international image building.
2.3 Whereas there is visible growth, the above indices are part of the several factors that have inhibited the development of the motion picture industry in Northern Nigeria. It is a case of all motion and no movement. The new paradigm of production and distribution which the video movies have come to represent has not been fully exploited to attract the requisite investment into the industry due to the absence of a structured body. The financial sector, as intermediaries in the economy, has been identified as a worthy partner in the journey towards the commercial viability of this initiative, and is equally looking forward to an institutional structure which would be responsible for facilitating the attainment of greater productivity and excellence in the industry.
2.4 MOPPAN observed that for our motion picture industry to thrive therefore, creativity, improved skill acquisition, modern technology, continuous training and exposure, benchmarking and setting higher standards, intellectual property rights protection, recognition/reward for excellence, and marketing and distribution must be given their pride of place. Every well-developed and viable film industry across the world has put one form of structure or the other in place, to stimulate its growth and development.
2.5 In the same vein, for a business that began almost by accident, was sustained by expediency, and has not benefited from the support of either the political establishment or the orthodox financial institutions, what the country needs at this point of our development is for the motion picture industry to be properly guided and nurtured to grow.
2.6 The tremendous impact of Hausa and other local films on the people’s minds, their ways of thinking, their habits of perception, their attitude to the world, work, family and neighbours has nonetheless helped to shape the implications for their development in recent times. This has also invariably dictated the direction of their authority over our values and our lives, as a counter-force against the influence of foreign values and imported cultures which threaten the survival of a truly indigenous motion picture industry.
2.7 The visual medium of film no doubt is one of the strongest media of cultural expression. The Hausa films in particular and Nigerian motion picture industry in general, today desperately needs to put a stamp on quality and standard in story interpretation, picture/visual, sound, and content as a whole. The revolution of quality productions, using local talents and other resources will not only project our culture that stemmed from our religion positively but also position Nigeria on the global map of filmmaking.
AN INTERNATIONAL FILM CENTRE IN KANO
3.1 Towards the Establishment of an International Film Centre
3.1.1 The Association notes that Northern Nigeria is one of the three filmmaking legs of Nigeria and the only one few filmmaking without a Film Centre. Lagos, Bayelsa and Enugu are in the process or have established some form of film centres. The Federal Government is trying to establish one more for them in Abuja.
3.1.2 MOPPAN also finds that all over the world, the significance of a film centre as an engine of growth is becoming increasingly recognised. Only recently did the Nigerian government realise that leaving the industry in the hands of the private sector, who are the more visible players in the home video revolution, will only continue to undermine effort at local and international image management and economic and socio-political progression. The industry has not only become a national institution, recently accorded official recognition but also an authentic economic sector, with the potential of becoming one of the greatest contributors to national wealth.
3.1.3 The imperative, therefore, of bridging the gaps in manpower development, capacity building, production, marketing, distribution and exhibition - with professionalism at its heart – formed one of the cornerstones of this presentation aimed at harnessing the potentials of the film medium for the achievement of national development objectives.
3.2 The Present State of the Film Industry in the North
3.2.1 The evolution of the motion picture industry in the North with Kano as its umbilical cord must be considered side by side with the economic potential, not only locally but also beyond our shores. Over the last 15 years or so of indigenous film production, the film medium has grown to become the major conveyor of Northern culture, arts and tourism potentials to the outside world. From pre-independence and post-independence era, and with more indigenous participation, the home video culture has manifested enormous capacity to create wealth, driven by a private sector entrepreneurship.
3.2.2 Apart from hiding under the guise of shari’ah to launch attempts aimed at killing the film industry in some parts of the North, the industry has virtually been left to exist on its own in the other parts, a development which deviates from what obtains in the more organised film cultures mentioned above. Though some effort has been made in the past to regulate the moral aspect of the industry to conform with Shari’ah, no attempt was made to consider the economic and other benefits, and the reality is that much more needs to be done in the following areas:
(i) Infrastructure and facilities;
(iii) Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing;
(iv) Training and capacity building;
(v) Funding and financing;
(vi) Legal Environment.
220.127.116.11 Infrastructure and Production Facilities
MOPPAN noted that few state-of-the-art equipment exist as part of the production facilities in the industry in the North. The cinema infrastructure among others, such as equipment and theatres have equally been abandoned to decay or converted to warehouses, banks, shopping malls and venues for religious worship, etc. The new phenomenon of the home video production therefore does not enjoy the communal conviviality which was the order of the day in the cinema era. In the same vein, production, distribution and exhibition facilities in the film industry are virtually non-existent.
Note must however be taken of the effort of private sector investors in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and recently Abuja by Silverbird and other stakeholders who are already financing a few standard film exhibition centres across some major cities of the country in an attempt to revive the film exhibition and cinema going culture. There are also a chain of video rental outlets and viewing centres in the urban centres and in some rural areas of the country, operating on the fringe. More of these structures and facilities are expected to be established in the North by these businesses and operated without recourse to northern cultural sensibilities.
MOPPAN therefore sees the need to go into, or encourage northern businessmen to go into the business of cinema as it should be in a predominantly Muslim environment. MOPPAN also recommends that Kano State Government, in its new policy thrust on Film Development through the establishment of a practitioners driven film centre in Tiga, Kano, should seek to collaborate with motion picture equipment and film stock manufacturers from different parts of the world for the establishment of factories or sales offices in the Kano, with adequate incentives to attract their participation.
MOPPAN observed that Kano, as the centre of Kannywood, is unarguably one of the highest producers of film titles in the Nigeria and Africa, with over one thousand video movies per annum. Film production encompasses several processes of transforming a story or subject matter from idea to a finished product. With the establishment of the Resource Centre, it is hoped that the above stated problems about motion picture production would be mitigated to the barest minimum.
In its view, MOPPAN believes the establishment of the International Film Resource Centre at Tiga in Kano, would bring all Guilds and Associations together under one umbrella at the centre and give them the capacity to address the problems of technical and content quality, format, standards, professionalism, aesthetic appeal and of course, finance are some of the challenges facing the industry today.
18.104.22.168 Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing
MOPPAN observed the absence of effective structure and efficient and organised distribution network in the North, despite Kano being one of the major distribution centres of Films in Nigeria and sub Saharan Africa generally. MOPPAN also noted that there is the lack of political will on the part of Kano State Government to consider its strategic positioning and make plans to explore and revitalize the sector.
MOPPAN recommends that Kano State Government should utilise the International Film Resource Centre at Tiga to facilitate an enabling environment to encourage public-private partnership to enhance an organised and efficient distribution and marketing network.
22.214.171.124 Training and Capacity Building
MOPPAN noted that it has become imperative for practitioners to possess a certain basic qualification that is recognised and acceptable by all stakeholders nationwide to bridge the yawning gap created by dearth of requisite skills in the industry.
Without training and capacity building therefore, it is difficult to maintain standards and ensure the regular supply of the needed manpower to feed the development needs of the industry.
MOPPAN recommends that the International Film Resource Centre Tiga, Kano should host a film school to be known as TIGA INTERNATIONAL FILM CENTRE, KANO to be affiliated to either Bayero University Kano or Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. The school can work with other similar training institutions around the world to professionalise the industry. The Centre would also work with and encourage the Government-owned National Film Institute and the NTA Television College in Jos and other training institutions and initiatives by stakeholders to function adequately and provide the services needed in this sub-sector.
126.96.36.199 Funding and Financing
Modern filmmaking is business, big business. It is pertinent to note that all films, whether Government-sponsored or funded by corporations or individuals incur expenses in anticipation of expected returns. MOPPAN observed the absence of institutional funding, grants and endowment which has hampered the delivery power of the Northern Nigerian filmmaker.
MOPPAN strongly recommends the establishment of a Film Development Fund in Kano for the Northern motion picture industry in collaboration with other Northern Governors that are major stakeholders and beneficiaries.
188.8.131.52 Legal Environment
MOPPAN observed that the Government has been making relevant and necessary efforts towards creating an enabling and enduring legal environment to stimulate the desired moral growth and development in the industry. The Kano Censors Board is however a source of concern to stakeholders and the law establishing the board is obviously done in a hurry.
MOPPAN recommends that the Kano State Government should liaise with the National Film and Video Censors Board to harmonise and regularise its reforms until the motion picture industry is firmly put on a sound footing of focussed growth and development. The International Film Resource Centre would also maintain a standard legal office to continuously study and update its policies with regards to culture, tourism and growth without constituting itself as a nuisance and national/international embarrassment.
From the foregoing, MOPPAN therefore recommends the establishment of an International Film Resource Centre, to be known as THE AFRICA INTERNATIONAL FILM RESOURCE CENTRE TIGA, KANO at the present place of the ROCK CASTLE HOTEL to, when fully established, serve as THE CENTRE that would seek to intervene through its registered and affiliated Guilds and Associations in all aspects of motion picture production in Northern Nigeria and give KANNYWOOD a true identity and KANO STATE its position of pride as the third leg of film production in Nigeria.
Alhaji Sani Mu’azu