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Boosting China- Nigeria Cultural Relations Through Film

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Since the late 1800, when movie making started gaining momentum, films have been used as instrument for cultural exchange. Against this background, China and Nigeria, two leading countries with dynamic movie industry have restate commitment to strengthen cultural exchange using film. OMONU NELSON reports.

The Chinese film industry is projected to become the biggest film market by year 2020, with targeted revenue of 30 billion dollars.

Analysts say with Nigeria’s film industry churning out about 50 movies per week, and making inroads on the global stage, partnership with China will help upstage dependence on oil for foreign earners.

It is also believed that such partnership will help the acceptance of  the Nigerian films into Chinese and other Asian film markets. Film, as have been identified by developed world, is a means of transfer of cultures and civilizations, and an opportunity for nations to tell their own stories.

Nigeria and China are both countries with rich and dynamic cultural heritages that can translate movies from both countries into being  the most sort after globally. The bilateral relations between Nigeria and China dates back to 50 years ago and was concretised with the signing of Cultural and Educational Agreement in March, 1990. The three decades of cultural co-operation has witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of Arts, Music, Dance, Exhibition, Cultural Administration, Capacity-building, among others.

Adedayo Thomas is  the Director General of National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). He said, as a government agency that is saddled with the responsibility of censoring films, classifying of movies in Nigeria, efforts will be redoubled at ensuring quality output of Nigerian films that meets international standards.

Speaking recently at the 2019 China Film Festival, the Cultural Counselor at the Embassy of People’s Republic of China and Director of China Cultural Centre, Mr Li Xuda, explained that: “The Nigerian film industry, also known as Nollywood, produces about 50 movies per week, second only to India’s Bollywood and more than Hollywood in the United States in terms of volume. Nigerian movies are very popular across Africa, Europe and America, but have yet to gain access to the vast Chinese market.”

China film industry on the hand, Mr Xuda reiterated has been developing very rapidly, with the projection of hitting US$30 billion

by year 2020, thereby making the largest movie market in the world. By that feat, China would have overtaking the United States’ Nollywood.

“China’s film industry has been developing very quickly these years.

By 2020, China’s film industry will see further expansion, with revenue reaching about US$30 billion. By then, China will overtake North America in box office revenue and will become the largest film market in the world, Mr Xuda explained.

He further gave indication that Nollwood is important to China, saying  that China market will be opened to Nigerian movies. The ultimate of which is to promote cultural exchange between the two countries.

“I believe Nollywood is very important to China. China film market will be more open to Nollywood. With the aim to promote cultural exchanges between China and Nigeria, strengthen the cooperation in thefilm industry,” Xuda said.

The China-Cooperation is built on China Powered Silk and Road Initiative. Explaining the framework of the Silk and Road Initiative,

Mr Xuda said, since ancient times, the Silk Road has been central to cultural exchanges between China and other countries. Inspired by the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and benefits, the “Belt and Road Initiative promotes Cooperation among different countries in fields including economy,  culture and tourism, and fosters friendship across different peoples, as we always say one belt and one road, connecting China and the World.

In a goodwill message at the 2019 Chinese Film Festival the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace  Gekpe said the festival has further strengthened the cultural cooperation between Nigeria and China.

“I am highly delighted to be part of the celebration of 2019 Chinese Film Festival. My excitement is further heightened in the realisation that the cultural co-operation between Nigeria and China has been increasing in leaps and bounds in recent years.

“The bilateral relations between Nigeria and China dates back to 50 years ago and was concretised with the signing of cultural and educational agreement in March, 1990 The three decades of cultural co-operation has witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of Arts, Music, Dance, Exhibition, Cultural Administration, Capacity-building, among others.

She added” Gekpe praised China for remaining a dependable partner in its Cultural cooperation with Nigeria.

“Let me state unequivocally that China is a committed partner, a dependable ally and a friend in need and indeed. The high level visits of Officials and experts at various times gives credence to these mutually inclusive and productive relations.

“Chinese Films has been a regular feature especially in our commercial cinema houses and is watched and enjoyed by the various strata of Nigerian society.

“I remember with nostalgia, the 1990’s when the Chinese Film Week was an annual programme at the Nigerian National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos.”

She gave kudos to the Nigerian Film industry for its strives at the global arena and for being rated as the second largest film industry in the world.

“To this end, I wish to use this opportunity to advocate for a collaboration to host a joint Film Week of Nigerian and Chinese Filmsin both countries. This will accelerate and help to deepen the understanding of the culture and history of both counties.”

In retrospect, the commercial, public screening of ten of Lumière brothers’ short films in Paris on 28 December 1895 can be regarded as the breakthrough of projected cinematographic motion pictures.

The first film studios were built in 1897. The first rotating camera for taking panning shots was built in 1898. Special effects were introduced and film continuity, involving action moving from one sequence into another, began to be used.

In the 1900s, continuity of action across successive shots was  achieved and the first close-up shot was introduced. Most films of this period were what came to be called “chase films”. The first successful permanent theatre showing only films was “Nickelodeon” in Pittsburgh in 1905. The first feature length film multi-reel was a 1906 Australian production. By 1910, actors began to receive screen credit for their roles, opening the way for the creation of film stars. Regular newsreels were exhibited from 1910 and was a popular way for finding out the news, as well as creating a regular audience.

From about 1910, American films had the largest share of the market in Australia and in all European countries except France.

New film techniques were introduced in this period including the use of artificial lighting, fire effects and low-key lighting (i.e. lighting in which most of the frame is dark) for enhanced atmosphere during sinister scenes. As films grew longer, specialist writers were employed to simplify more complex stories derived from novels or plays into a form that could be contained on one reel and be easier to be understood by the audience – an audience that was new to this form of storytelling. Genres began to be used as categories; the main division was into comedy and drama but these categories were further subdivided. During the First World War there was a complex transition for the film industry. The exhibition of films changed from short one-reel programs to feature films. Exhibition venues became larger and began charging higher prices. By 1914, continuity cinema was the established mode of commercial cinema. One of the advanced continuity techniques involved an accurate and smooth transition from one shot to another.

  1. W. Griffith had the highest standing among American directors in the industry, because of the dramatic excitement he conveyed to the audience through his films. The American film industry, or “Hollywood”, as it was becoming known after its new geographical center in Hollywood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, gained the position it has held, more or less, ever since: film factory for the world and exporting its product to most countries. By the 1920s, the United States reached what is still its era of greatest-ever output, producing an average of 800 feature films annually, or 82% of the global total (Eyman, 1997). During late 1927, Warner Bros. release The Jazz Singer, with the first synchronized dialogue (and singing) in a feature film. By the end of 1929, Hollywood was almost-talkie, with several competing sound systems (soon to be standardized). Sound saved the Hollywood studio system in the face of the Great Depression (Parkinson, 1995). However, the advent of the talkies meant a very high conversion cost for cinemas as well as producers.

The desire for wartime propaganda created a renaissance in the film industry in Britain, with realistic war dramas.

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