The Abuja Film Festival returned this year with the Nigerian premiere of the Lancelot Imasuen film, Invasion 1897.
Set in the ancient Benin Kingdom, the movie portrays how the British invaded the kingdom, deposed its ruler, Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi, and looted the palace, carting away religious sculptures as artefacts.
The movie was commended by the audience at the screening for trying to tell the “African story” from an African Perspective.
According to its director, Imasuen, Invasion 1897 was premiered in Toronto, Canada. It was also shown at the British Museum, Britain in August, at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, US and in Brasilia, Brazil during the FIFA 2014 World Cup.
The founder of the film festival, Fidelis Duker, noted that this was the first time an indigenous movie would open the festival and this special premiere was done to mark Nigeria’s centenary.
The movie starred first-time screen actor, Michael Omoregbee, in a critically acclaimed turn as Oba Ovonramwen. The actor has already been earmarked for the Best Performance by an Actor award by the festival’s jury. The movie was also nominated for Best Feature Film (Nigeria).
The cast also included Paul Obazele, Segun Arinze, the late Justus Esiri as well as British actors, Rudolph Walker and Charles “Chucky” Venn.
A special guest at the screening was the Senate majority leader, Ndoma Egba, who declared the festival open.
Mr. Egba commending Nollywood, saying the Senate was in support of the industry going by its proposed motions picture bill. He, however, noted that the actors themselves were yet to send a liaison officer, as agreed, to the Senate who would be involved in the drafting of the bill.
Other guests at the event were Hollywood film makers, Zeb Ejiro and Charles Novia; actors, Emeka Ossai and Fred Amata, as well as some cast members from the movie; and comedians, Julius Agwu, Gbenga Adeyinka and MC Miracles.
The four-day film festival, which began on Tuesday, September 23, takes place at the Silverbird Cinemas, Abuja.
It will feature movies from Nigeria, China, Uganda, Egypt, France, the UK, Spain among others.
At the end of the festival, awards would be given to the best movies and actors.
On why he sited the festival in Abuja despite the fact that Nollywood is largely based in Lagos, Mr. Duker said it meant to be close to the seat of power and, that way, get government attention and investment in the industry.