How we select film students for scholarship, by AFRIFF Founder Chioma Ude

AFRIFF Founder, Ms Chioma Ude

Founder/ CEO of the popular Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), Ms Chioma Ude has shed light on the process of selecting film students as beneficiaries of the festival’s annual scholarship scheme overseas.

Ude, while addressing a press conference at the new AFRIFF office at CBC Building, Lekki, Lagos last Wednesday said the segments of the festival are run by experts  from different fields, making the selection of 20 students from the 200 who attend the annual Talent Development Workshop a thorough and professional exercise.

“AFRIFF is not a one man show. We have different people and organizations handling different segments of the festival. For the training segment, the teachers handling the courses are involved in the selection. Last year, we had about three thousand entries and we had to select two hundred for the training.”

To underscore the democratic nature of the selection, Ude said, “The selection of the 20 students who get further training abroad is done by the different lecturers, some of them provided by Ford Foundation, some provided by other sponsors like Africa Magic. The lecturers choose a student based on their own professional criteria. That way, the festival team has nothing to do with the selection. However, because this is my brainchild, they always leave three spots for me. So, I come, watch these students on the last day of their training, interact with them, ask some questions and then pick three of them that I find exceptionally brilliant. Most of the times, I ended up picking students that the lecturers already selected. For example, last year, the three names I chose had been chosen by the lecturers.”

Ude disclosed that while some of the teachers came from abroad, some are Nigerians with proven record of achievements in their fields. They include Script Writer Tunde Babalola and actor Segun Arinze. “For script writing, I know there is a template internationally, but the students connect better with the Nigerian teachers. So, we had to find one with very good repute and we stuck with Tunde Babalola. For the acting class, we started off with Segun Arinze and later paired him with a foreign teacher. For the Cinematography class, last year, we had Cannon bring in their experts to handle the classes.”

On her staying power despite the challenges of organising the festival and seeking sponsorship yearly, Ude said, “For AFRIFF generally, my staying power has been the training. And the training, for me, is just knowing that a complete package for the ecosystem is here. We train them in different aspects of filmmaking. It’s important we do this because we need our films to improve, we need our stories told well. When we were coming out with the plan, we hoped that we will impact on the industry and the society at large and move from that to actually seeing them make such impact.”

Out of the 20 film students on scholarship at CineF’Abrique, a film school in Lyon, France, Ford Foundation will cater for 10. How does the festival make up for the remaining 10.

“AFRIFF has other sponsors. We have other people and institutions backing us. They include Access Bank, Air France that will be flying the students, Alliance Francaise that will be offering the requisite intensive tutorial in French language before they travel, and several others. It is important to know that this French lesson is pertinent to the students even though they will be taught in English language when they get to Lyon. The French are very big in art and culture, so for them it goes beyond just training in the classroom. They’ve created a two-week program for them. They will also go on a tour of Paris and its beautiful sites,” she explained.
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