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Nollywood Week Film Festival gets underway in Paris

Poster for the Nollywood Week Film Festival   -  
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The 11th Nollywood Week Film Festival kicked off in the French capital, Paris, on Thursday. As its name suggests, this festival is all about Nigerian cinema, but it's not the only one.

Over a period of four days, the large numbers of visitors will be able to watch productions from countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco, and even the United States.

In total, more than a dozen short and feature-length films are showing, to the delight of African film fans.

Aissata Seck is director of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de l'esclavage (Foundation for the Memory of Slavery) and a big fan of African cinema. She says she has no regrets about making the trip.

"I love it because we get all kinds of stories. And sometimes you have the feeling of finding yourself through your own personal stories,” she says.

“Particularly because, even though I was born in France, I have a dual culture and therefore an African culture, and for me it's important to see this type of film and to do so with my daughters.”

For Olivier Kissita, himself an actor and director, this kind of festival is necessary in order to promote African cultures.

"There's strength in numbers. To be taken seriously, you need to be numerous, so I think the idea is to walk as a community, in numbers, to have a better chance of showing the richness and different cultures of the continent and even beyond.”

Beyond that, because culture has the power to overcome differences and break down barriers. Barriers that are often in our heads, as co-founder of the festival, Serge Noukoue, explains.

"In the realities portrayed in the films, whether at Nollywood Week or elsewhere, there are sometimes more similarities than differences,” he says.

“And so what's important is to be able to recognise ourselves in others and also to be curious, to maintain that curiosity that enables us to take an interest in what's happening in Nigeria and in Africa in general.”

That, he believes, is an important element that underpins the very creation of Nollywood Week.

The festival opened with the film is "Atiko" by Nigerian director Biodun Stephen. It tells a powerful tale of resilience and willpower. A universal story.

"It's an African story. Anyone with that skin colour understands this story, whether they speak Yoruba, French, or any other language. If you're black, you know this story,” says Stephen who attending the opening.

This year's Nollywood Week also has a special focus on animated films and integrated virtual reality. An industry already estimated to be worth over $100 million in Nigeria alone.

The festival runs until Sunday 5 May.

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