Coronavirus, George Floyd Inspire 1st Virtual Edition of Paris Black Cinema Festival


PARIS – The novel Coronavirus has battered the global film industry, but that hasn’t stopped an annual Paris-based Black film festival from opening Thursday —for the first time virtually. This year’s edition of NollywoodWeek is breaking new ground in other ways.

This eighth edition of the NollywoodWeek Film Festival is traveling beyond Nigeria’s powerhouse film industry to include — for the first time — movies from other parts of Africa and the Black diaspora.

NollywoodWeek usually takes place at Paris’ l’Arlequin movie theater. But with cinemas across France still shuttered by the pandemic, the festival is going virtual… with its new global content to now reach a global audience as well.

Chakera McIntosh is the festival’s Dakar-based spokeswoman — and one of the festival’s film selections is from Senegal.

“We’ve seen there’s been a lot of development in other cinemas, in the film industry in other African countries that are really inspired by what’s been happening in Nollywood,” said McIntosh.

“People are looking at these big Nollywood films getting onto Netflix and they’re saying with their means — or not much means, actually — they can manage to do really quality things and tell great stories.”

NollywoodWeek will air nearly three dozen movies, animations and documentaries from countries like Tanzania, Mozambique, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago. The audience can either purchase a single-movie pass — costing under $10 — or a full-festival pass. Other parts of the four-day event, like conferences and master classes, are free.

The film industry overall has been hard hit by COVID-19. Nollywood alone, known for its scrappy, low-budget origins, has lost millions of dollars in ticket sales. But McIntosh said the pandemic — and other global crises — also have a positive side.

“This is something that is so surreal in a way, and so unheard of. that people are inspired to tell stories that are linked to either COVID or tell stories in this unusual period in our history, and how they are dealing with it. We saw what was happening in the U.S. with George Floyd, and that also opened up room for people to think a bit about how we tell stories about Black people around the world, and about platforms we use to do that,” said McIntosh.

NollywoodWeek runs through Sunday. Its organizers hope next year’s edition will be back at the l’Arlequin — but also have a virtual component for its global fans.

Source: Voice of America