The maiden Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival (ENIFF) was a breath of fresh air in an environment burdened with a global pandemic.
ENIFF was initially planned to be a live event, in Enugu, but the COVID-19 pandemic put paid to that aspiration. Rather than give up, the festival directors Ujuaku Akukwe-Nwakalor and Chris Odili dug deep and necessity became the mother of invention. The golden axiom of show business: “the show must go on” held sway and what a show it was.
Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival (ENIFF) is inspired by the long history the east of Nigeria has put into Nollywood and the African cinema. It’s a platform where filmmakers from all over the world and their films are celebrated and rewarded for their creativity and contribution to the advancement of humanity and the industry. The maiden edition of the Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival (ENIFF) Nigeria was held virtually from Wednesday, November 4th, to Saturday, November 7th, 2020.
This year’s edition started with an opening ceremony hosted by radio presenter and actor, Lorenzo Menakaya. The highlight of the opening ceremony was the breaking of kola-nut performed by the veteran actor and broadcaster, Chief Pete Edochie (MON).
ENIFF founders and directors, Ujuaku Akukwe-Nwakalor and Chris Odili, said that 3,101 films were submitted from 131 countries for this maiden edition.
40 films from 22 countries screened this year including the American Oscar Award winning film, “Skin”, the South African documentary “A New Country” which was the opening film and Mexican masterpiece “ANYA”, which was the closing film.
There were industry sessions tagged “Ideas @ ENIFF” by Nollywood veteran Pete Edochie, British-Canadian Actor Mark Holden, African film curator Nadia Denton, Serial entrepreneur Obi Asika, digital strategist Yvonne Chioma Mbanefo and South African artist, Bandile Koketso Mbuli. Different categories of awards were presented at the closing ceremony, as decided by the jury headed by film scholar, Dr. Ezinne Ezepue.
The ENIFF 2020 Award winners are:
Gon, the Little Fox -Japan (WINNER)
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Sunset in Makoko -Nigeria (WINNER)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BASSIL’ORA – Italy (WINNER)
BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
Skin – United States (WINNER)
BEST NIGERIAN FILM
BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE
Anya – Mexico (WINNER)
BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE
María Fernanda Tovar (Anya) – Mexico (WINNER)
BEST MALE PERFORMANCE
Anish Gosavi (Tak-Tak) – India (WINNER)
Mika Johnson (Confessions of a Box Man) – Czech Republic (WINNER)
Skin–United States (WINNER)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Two Autumns in Paris – Venezuela
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD
Journey to Kenya – Sudan.
Behind the scenes, the festival team led by Oba Kosi Nwoba ensured that the strict International standards required by film freeway, the biggest film festival hosting site in the world were kept.
While Leo Edochie, Ifeoma Nwuke, Chief Benson Ejindu and Hon Chijioke Edeoga and RTF saw to its success.
This first edition exceeded all expectations. The virtual edition attracted 21,571 views in four days by a daily average of 4,998. The date for the second edition is already scheduled for the 3rd to the 6th of November, 2021.