By Dipo Olowookere
One organisation making frantic effort to take the African film industry to higher level is Ecobank Foundation.
The organisation has thrown its full weight behind the 2019 edition of the Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision Ougadougou (FESPACO) taking place in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, from Saturday, February 23 to Saturday, March 2.
The prestigious festival is held every two years and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Organised by the Government of Burkina Faso, FESPACO is regarded as the most important film and cultural event on the African continent.
Named after one of French-speaking luminary African creative writers, the Ecobank Foundation has been sponsoring the Sembène Ousmane special prize since 2007. This year the following industry experts will select the winning film: Denise Epoté (Chair of the jury and Regional Director Africa of TV5 Monde), Clarence Delgado (filmmaker and former assistant of Sembène Ousmane), Cheick Oumar Cissoko (filmmaker and former Minister of Culture of Mali), and Issa Soma (journalist).
Winner of the prize will receive XOF 5,000,000 and a bronze trophy, representing the bust of Sembène Ousmane.
This year, over 400 movies will be screened at the festival of which 20 are taking part in the official competition. The special prize awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, February 28, while the overall winner of the festival will be announced during the closing ceremony on Saturday, March 2.
“It is a real honour for the Ecobank Foundation to sponsor such an important prize at this stellar film festival in Ougadougou,” says Carl Manlan, Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation. “Africa’s film industry is enjoying ever increasing global attention and acclaim, and we place great importance in providing public recognition to the film which best portrays the positivity of Africa. The Sembène Ousmane special prize will be awarded to the film which most reflects Ecobank’s value of dignity, honour and good governance.”
Spotify to Commence Operations in Nigeria, Others
A Swedish audio streaming and media services provider, Spotify, has announced its intention to commence business operations in Nigeria, some African countries and others in the coming days.
To ensure usability in all of these new markets, the company also officially added support for 36 new languages to its platform, including Romanian, Hindi and Swahili. This means the platform now supports more than 60 languages in total.
Spotify explained that it was expanding its services to many Africam nations because these areas represent more than one billion potential new listeners.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to building a truly borderless audio ecosystem— connecting creators, listeners, and content—Spotify is embarking on a sweeping expansion that will introduce the world’s most popular audio streaming subscription service available to more than a billion people in 80+ new markets around the world, and add 36 languages to our platform.
“These moves represent Spotify’s broadest market expansion to date,” the statement on the official website read.
According to Spotify, its full global music catalogue will be available in each of the new markets and the entire podcast catalogue will be available in the majority of them.
In each new market, “We will work with local creators and partners to expand our music offerings and deliver a Spotify experience that meets the unique needs of each market.”
Spotify offers digital copyright restricted recorded music and podcasts including more than 70 million songs, from record labels and media companies. As a freemium service, basic features are free with advertisements and limited control, while additional features, such as offline listening and commercial-free listening, are offered via paid subscriptions.
Users can search for music based on artist, album, or genre, and can create, edit, and share playlists on the platform.
Disney Offers Customers More Viewing Options
By Ahmed Rahma
Walt Disney is set to introduce a new brand, Star, which will feature more viewing options for adults and a higher price for everyone using the Disney+ service.
With the new programming, subscribers will be able to watch more shows from the world’s largest entertainment company, including the ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy, FX’s biker series Sons of Anarchy and Hulu’s Love, Victor, about a teen coming to terms with his sexual orientation.
There will also be R-rated movies, such as the Queen Anne biopic The Favourite and Marvel’s Deadpool 2, which moms and dads can wall off from kids by activating parental controls, Bloomberg reported.
According to the report, the price for Disney+ will increase to €8.99 ($10.87) a month from €6.99 due to the development.
The new Star brand is also being introduced in Canada, Australia and Singapore as a sixth “tile” on the Disney+ home screen, alongside Marvel, Pixar and other labels.
Disney+ has been a runaway success, garnering nearly 95 million subscribers globally.
The challenge now, as the Star launch underscores, is to grow beyond the current customer base of families with young children and adults who love Star Wars and Marvel.
In Europe, the problem is magnified because consumers in some countries don’t have a history of paying for TV. Local streaming rivals are also starting to emerge, including Sky’s Now TV in the U.K., Vivendi SA’s Canal+ Series in France and Nordic Entertainment Group AB’s Viaplay.
“A lot of consumers are looking for relatively low-cost entertainment,” said Richard Broughton, research director at London’s Ampere Analysis.
“Their incomes have been impacted by the pandemic. Now is the time to grab as many consumers as possible,” he added.
Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are the leaders in European streaming, and they’ve been active there much longer.
Disney+, at 14 million subscribers, trails Netflix’s 63.5 million, Amazon’s 43.2 million and Apple TV’s 14.8 million, according to Ampere. Disney doesn’t break out its numbers in the region.
The Star launch illustrates Disney’s differing approach to different markets. In India, a Disney+ Hotstar product featuring programs for grown-ups and live sports is already available.
In June, Disney will introduce Star as a stand-alone service in Latin America, with live sports. It will be bundled with Disney+ at a discounted price of $9 a month.
Disney has also announced 10 original series in the works for Star in Europe, a move that appeases countries with local content requirements, as well as consumers eager to see programs that relate to them.
According to the principal analyst at Digital TV Research in London, Simon Murray, ultimately, a library of programs such as espionage series 24 and domestic drama Desperate Housewives may prove a lure for 20- and 30-something consumers who haven’t signed up for Disney+ already.
“There’s quite a war going on there,” but nobody is losing subscribers,” he said.
Fabulous Bump NG Unveils Pregnancy Affirmations Journal
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A homegrown maternity fashion brand, Fabulous Bump NG, has released a new publication called the Pregnancy Affirmations Journal.
The Fabulous Bump NG was established in 2018 out of the need to see more pregnant women and nursing mums slay whilst their buns cook in the oven and even after delivery.
According to the founder of the brand, Ms Adetoun Jegede, the newest baby, Pregnancy Affirmations Journal, a 40-week power-packed journal, will assist readers with almost everything about pregnancy.
She said the book is armed with carefully curated words of encouragement and insight to help mums-to-be to stay encouraged and uplifted on their journey to childbirth, adding that an audio version filled with positive affirmations will also be available.
It was further disclosed that each chapter will have sections for ladies to fill in their pesky cravings, to their symptoms and weekly experiences.
In addition, mums-to-be will have a dedicated spot in the book to pour out their hearts in a love letter to their little one at the end of each trimester as well as share special milestones.
Mums can share the journals when their little ones have grown up and reminisce on what their pregnancy was like, a statement issued on Friday stated.
“I produced this journal with the sole aim of helping pregnant women create the world they want to have during their pregnancy as well as project what they want to see in their children.
“I strongly believe there is power in the tongue, life and death lie in it, so as they document their journeys they breathe life into the experience,” Ms Jegede noted.
She assured that readers, especially the moms-to-be, will feel support, encouragement, overwhelmed with love, boldness and strength to keep pushing through and a magical connection with their bundle of joy.
It was disclosed that the book goes N5,000 and can be purchased online through @fabulousbumpng with worldwide delivery. The audio version is expected to be available on all streaming platforms.
FG, CBN Sign MoU to Revamp National Theatre
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Revamping and Restoration of the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, has been signed.
The deal was signed on Sunday, February 14, 2021, between the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Bankers Committee.
This followed the approval of the Federal Executive Committee (FEC) on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, for the transformation of the national asset built for the Festac 77.
Before the signing of the deal today in Lagos, on July 12, 2020, the federal government officially handed over the National Theatre to the CBN and Bankers Committee repairs.
It was gathered that MoU signing and award of contract for the project witnessed on Sunday by the Governor Babajide Sanwoolu of Lagos State; the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed; the Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Mr Sunday Dare and the Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
Others present were the CEO of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe; the General Manager/CEO of National Theatre, Prof Sunday Ododo; the Director of Legal at the Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr Nnanna Ibom, amongst others.
The National Theatre, when completed, would be one of the best event centres in Africa. It will also have the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre (LC&EC), which will comprise four hubs: films, music, information technology and fashion.
Speaking at the signing ceremony today, the Minister of Information and Culture assured that there would not be a single job loss, rather, the project would create no fewer than 10,000 direct jobs.
In his remarks, the CBN Governor disclosed that the renovation of the National Theatre would take 15 months to complete, assuring that the edifice would be one Nigerians would be proud of.
Business Post reports that the construction of the National Theatre was started by the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon and completed during the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976 ahead of the Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977.
The facility a 5,000-seater main hall with a collapsible stage and two capacity cinema halls, all of which are equipped with facilities for simultaneous translation of 8 languages; among others. But for many years, the National Theatre was abandoned and left to rot away.
Nigerian Singer Lil Frosh Lands in Prison After Wrong Hit
By Ahmed Rahma
A former signee of Davido Music Worldwide (DMW), a record label owned by a popular singer, David Davido Adeleke, Sani Wasiu, professionally known as Lil Frosh, has been remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, Lagos.
Lil Frosh was catapulted to the prison on Tuesday by a Lagos State Magistrate Court in Yaba for doing a ‘wrong hit’.
He was accused of beating his former girlfriend, Ms Gift Camille, who is a video vixen, last year.
Reports of the alleged assault went viral in 2020 and this led to Davido terminating the deal his company had with Lil Frosh, who had a hit single in the name of his former boss.
A group known as the International Association Of Women Lawyers, Lagos State branch, took up the matter on behalf of Ms Camille and filed a suit against the upcoming rapper at the court.
At the hearing yesterday, the Magistrate, Adeola Olatunbosun, said the singer should be remanded in the prison and then adjourned the case till March 9, 2021.
Recall that the assault allegation was made by the manager and brother to Ms Camille known as Michael. He called Lil Frosh out on social media, accusing him of maltreating his sister.
This was later corroborated by the victim, who claimed that the singer hit her different times, damaged her phone, recorded her naked and threatened to release the videos if she spoke up.
Michael went on to share photos of Ms Camille’s badly bruised face after she was allegedly beaten to a pulp by the rapper.
Lil Frosh, whose contract lasted for a year, was signed to DMW in October 2019 and released a single titled Davido while at the record label.
He has several other singles as well as collaborations with other artistes like his close friend, Zinoleesky on Omo Ologo, his former label mate, Mayorkun on Kole Re Body, amongst others.
MTV Base Africa Indefinitely Postpones 2021 Music Awards
By Ahmed Rahma
The 2021 MTV Africa Music Awards ceremony has been postponed, the organisers announced on Thursday night.
The event, which was scheduled to hold in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, on February 20, has been postponed indefinitely.
The prestigious ceremony is being organised in partnership with Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism.
In a message, MTN Base Africa said it was moving the date of the programme to a yet-to-be-announced date.
The MTV Base Music Awards is one of the key events on the music calendar in Africa with performances from leading African and international artistes.
“MTV Base is postponing the 2021 MTV Africa Music Awards.
“We will keep fans updated as we have more news,” MTV Base Africa posted on its official Twitter handle.
However, MTV Base Africa did not give reasons for the decision to postpone the event.
A Ugandan musician-turned-politician and opposition leader, Mr Bobi Wine, held a news conference following MTV Base’s decision.
He said it was painful to see that MTV was being used to sanitise the oppressive regime in Uganda.
“I am glad MTV is also seeing it and acting in respect of all the rights of artists. It will be such a shame for the MTV Music Awards to be held in Uganda under gunpoint,” he said.
The Kampala edition was set to be the first-ever live-streamed virtual MTV Africa Awards due to complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic and also, the first time the awards would be held in Uganda.
The awards, known as the MAMAs, first held in 2008 in Abuja, and last held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016 as well as East Africa in 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Meanwhile, MAMAs voting is ongoing and the public could vote via the awards’ official website.
Some of the top Nigerian artistes and comedians nominated into various categories of the award are Tiwa Savage, Adekunle Gold, Naira Marley, Wizkid, Mark Angel, Simi, Burna Boy, amongst others.
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