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French, Japanese Animated Film Festival Begins in Abuja


By Eric Ojo, Abuja

Institut français du Nigeria, the French Institute in Abuja was a beehive of activities on Thursday when it hosted the official launching of French and Japanese Animated Film Festival to showcase the rich animated film tradition of both countries in Nigeria.

The film festival is aimed to giving Nigerians, particularly those in Abuja and its environs,  an opportunity to enjoy variety of programmes with animated films for adults and children, feature films as well as short films, from both France and Japan.

Tagged, “Fête du cinéma d’animation”, a French national event, organized yearly at the French Institute in Abuja, takes place simultaneously in many cities in France and in the French cultural network all over the world.

In addition, the festival also contributes to the promotion of animated films and their creators to a large audience and the embassy of France and Japan in Nigeria are collaborating to mark this year’s event as a celebration of French and Japanese animated film culture.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Denys Gauer, Ambassador of France to Nigeria, said this year’s film festival is being organized in Nigeria for the very first time in partnership with the Japan Embassy in Nigeria because both countries have a very strong animated film culture.

Mr. Gauer added that France and Japan have always had a strong cultural cooperation, noting that Japanese “anime” are very popular in France, particularly Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli.

“I am sure that Japonese directors, buyers or distributors ‘keep an eye’ on our well-know International Animation Film festival in Anncey, a place of reference for animation in the world and a professional appointment for the industry with its market.

“Last year, we were celebrating the 90th anniversary of the French-Japanese friendship started in 1924 with the creation of the Maison franco-japonaise in Paris”, he said.

The French envoy further assured participants at the event that it will give them an opportunity to enjoy a wide range of animated films from both countries.

In his words, “For two weeks, from tonight until November 7, 2015, free open-air screenings will take place at the French Institute. Do not miss French animated films by two of the most famous and awarded French directors, Michel Ocelot and Sylvain Chomet with “Les Triplettes de Belleville” which won 2 Academy Awards, Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song”.

Also in his welcome remarks at the event, Mr. Sadanobu Kusaoke, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, observed that the most gratifying aspect of the collaboration between France and Japan in organizing this year’s film festival, is that they are doing it in a great film-making country endowed with a brand widely recognized globally as Nollywood.

Mr. Kusaoke however pointed out that in spite of its recent popularity in some parts of the world, Japense Animes is not so widely recognized in Africa, adding that he is optimistic that the hosting of the film festival in Abuja, will somehow, close that gap.

“With our French partners, we have managed to prepare a good selection of animated films, including drama and comedy. I hope that for our Nigerian friends this festival will become a good first encounter with our anime and will lead in the future to “Nollywood” warmly embracing Japanese and French animated film culture.

“I am also delighted to have Lady Onyeka Onwenu here, may I say, who is an icon of Nollywood movie. Being myself a devoted admirer of French films, it is my pleasure to co-organize this event with our French partners”. he stressed.

The cultural exchange between France and Japan, according to him, has a long history, adding that film is no exception as there have been Japanese film directors, who got deeply inspired by the French films and also there are French films producers who got inspired by their Japanese counterparts.

The Japanese Ambassador therefore thanked his colleague, the Ambassador of France, the management of the French Institute of Nigeria for hosting the joint event as well as the Japanese partners, the Japan Foundation and Taiyo-Industry Africa for their support.


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