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The Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) kicked off with a bang at Genesis Cinemas, Lekki yesterday where Amandla Stenberg’s ‘The Hate U Give’ screened as opening film.

Also exciting is the fact that the Accelerate Day of the AFRIFF week holds today, where the six short films made by the winners of this year’s Accelerate Filmmaker Project winners premiered.

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Watch out for the official release of the films on Accelerate TV’s YouTube channel in December.

Check out how this year’s Accelerate Filmmaker Project went here.

Meanwhile, check out the testimonies of each of the winners and behind the scenes of their films below:

Samuel Olanrewaju (Film title – The Wall)

“The Accelerate Filmmaker Project was an amazing experience- being around so many talented filmmakers from different walks of life has really put things into perspective for me. Every tutor, mentor, colleague, was an endless well of knowledge- I still have so much to learn. I realized I had the gift of storytelling about ten years ago and I chose to follow my dream because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing with my life. This means everything to me, this platform is bigger than anything I could have imagined and what better place to show the world what I am capable of? I hope to be one of the best filmmakers to come out of Africa, shining a bright light on our rich cultures, portraying us in such a way that we can look at our nation with pride.”

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Bola Akanbi (Film title – Thorn)

“When I got the mail stating that I had been selected to be one of the top 20 participants of the 2018 Accelerate Filmmaker Project, I was beyond elated. One of my goals for this year was to shoot a short film, and the Accelerate Filmmaker Project brought my dream to fruition. The experience at the Accelerate Filmmaker Project was unforgettable. Being there was so surreal. Every day was such an educative, entertaining experience. I learnt a lot about the process of filmmaking. When I heard my name as one of the Top 5, I was overwhelmed and couldn’t hold back the tears. It was unbelievable that I was living my dream and at no financial cost, on a platform as huge as the Accelerate Filmmaker Project and AFRIFF. I’m really excited about what the future holds. I look forward to collaborating with other likeminded individuals committed to telling Africa’s stories in a way the world can connect with.”

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Igbokweuche Chidinma (Film title – Mmachi)

“As a kid, my mom always got me story books- two new books every week. It was a routine, until one day, we went to my favourite bookstore and found out I didn’t have any new books to read that week because I had read them all. The bookshop owner looked at me and said, ‘if you have read all these books, why don’t you write your own?’ I went home that day and within a week I had written my first story, The Promise. That was the beginning of my love story with storytelling. However, life happened and I moved on to do other things with my life- I became a teenager, got admission into university, studied Economics, got a job and even started a blog where I shared my creative stories. For a while, it was just an interesting hobby until I started having this nagging desire to see my stories on the big screen. I would watch a movie and say to myself; I could write a story this interesting or better. Then I discovered the camera and the magic that can be created behind the camera. It took a minute, but it felt like I had performed the most important ritual of my life. I first heard of the Accelerate Filmmaker Project in 2017, but was too late to apply. From that moment, I started counting down to the 2018 edition, I convinced myself that it was the door I needed to get my foot in. 2018 couldn’t come soon enough, and when it did, I stalked Accelerate TV’s social media pages until they called for entries. After the first day of class, I couldn’t wait to come in the next day. I knew I was home; this was it for me. It was filmmaking or bust. The entire one week was surreal, amazing and every day, I discovered something new to love about the art of filmmaking. Making it to the finals was icing on an already enticing cake, it was like the universe was nudging me forward. I have had a good start to my career and I am trusting the process to achieve all that I have set out to achieve.”

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Charles Obi-Emere (Film title – Wrong Con)

“My name is Charles Obi Emere. I am a screenwriter and director, and most recently, one of the finalists of the 2018 Accelerate Filmmaker Project. Making it to the final stage of the filmmaker project was a surreal experience, partly because I had applied the previous year for the project, and didn’t get in. I brought my ‘A game’ this time around, and when it was time for our pitches, I fine-tuned mine to the best it could possibly be. Hearing my name being called as one of the finalists made me realize how the world could be yours, if only you worked hard and smart enough. For a lack of better words, that one week in the Accelerate Academy was FIRE! I learnt a whole lot that would have taken me at least two years to learn on my own. I forged alliances with most of my colleagues and even some of the mentors. Oh and yes, the food was great too. The very first thing I wrote was for an essay competition in primary school. I didn’t come close to winning, but my teacher read my work and cried. That experience sparked something within me. From that moment on, I knew that storytelling would be a huge part of my life. Coming from a biomedical sciences background, it was difficult at first, venturing into filmmaking. Filmmaking kept calling me, no matter how long I ran away from it. I want to heal the world with my stories. I wish to touch lives and probably make some money while doing so. LOL”

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Ozioma N. Ogbaji (Film title – Stuck)

“The Accelerate Filmmaker Project 2018 is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my year. From being selected as one of the Top 20, to the masterclass and making it to the Top 6, is a journey I will never forget. The classes were educative and enlightening and they opened my eyes to other aspects of filmmaking which I had not yet discovered. The network of filmmakers I connected with during and after the masterclasses is also something I am grateful for. I look forward to working with every single one of them in the future. I have worked in different sectors where I was bored to death, being that my talents were not utilised. One day, as I thought about my career choices, I decided to go back to my first love- storytelling. I chose to follow filmmaking because it fascinates me, I love it, I enjoy it and I have stories to share with the world. I really wanted to make it to the finals because I reckoned that it would be a great career and morale boost for me, since I’m transitioning into filmmaking and I can’t say I have any experience other than in screenwriting. When my name was called, it was confirmation that I am on the right track. I hope to write the most interesting films from Nollywood to the world, create timeless shows, produce and direct timeless films which tell our African stories like never before (we have so many untold stories).”

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Joel Adegboye (Film title – Wallflower)

“My name is Joel Adegboye and I am a final year student at the University of Lagos studying English. Getting into the 2018 Accelerate Filmmaker Project was a dream come true for me. I actually tried for the first edition in 2017 but didn’t make the cut. I tried again for the 2018 edition and by God’s grace, I got in- it was nothing short of a miracle. The classes were wonderful and so informative. The environment was fantastic and all the mentors were incredible as they thoroughly broke down every intricate aspect of the filmmaking process. On the final day, when we had to pitch our ideas, I was a little disappointed I wasn’t picked at first, but turns out, good things happen to those who wait, and I was put in a two-man team alongside my buddy, Seun Richards to work on the short film “Wallflower”. I realized my gift for story telling at a young age. I specifically remember in primary four, thinking I wanted to be a writer, while everyone else wanted to be a doctor or lawyer. I was captivated with the way Hollywood told their stories and I realized I wanted to do just that. I wanted to do something that would make me want to wake up every morning with a smile on my face. Filmmaking is just that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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Seun Richards (Film title – Wallflower)

“My experience through the course of the Accelerate Filmmaker Project was literally one of the best things I have done in my life. Every moment of the class was insightful and educative and most definitely, my horizons were widened beyond my wildest imagination. For me, filmmaking is something I’ve always seen myself doing. The more reason I got into theatre as a stepping stone- I see filmmaking as an avenue to make something of myself. Me being here among the finalists is not something I can simply put into words. Initially, when the five finalists were called and I wasn’t mentioned, I didn’t feel bad, because my friend was on the list, but then they said another story will be joining the top five. Immediately, I felt chills all through my body – and yes, I couldn’t help the flow of tears that rolled down my face when it was announced I’d be working alongside Joel. As I said, this has been a great eye-opener for me. I see myself pursuing a career in filmmaking professionally. I look forward to putting my imprint on every film I work on from here on out, and in the long run, I look forward to being one of the best in the game.”

Read also: Accelerate Filmmaker Project Short Film Wins AMVCA 2018

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