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Prince Sankanu secures Gambia’s position on the global film festival map
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Prince Sankanu secures Gambia’s position on the global film festival map

Gambian international filmmaker and scholar on African Cinema, Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu is securing The Gambia’s position on the global film map with the launch of the country’s premier international professional film festival on Saturday, 26 December 2015. Known officially as the CINEKEMBIYA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (CIFF), the annual event aims at creating a sustainable platform for the standardization of Gambian and African films for global consumption with rich African cultural contents. The festival has an award component titled “PAN AFRICAN SCREEN AWARDS (PASA)” which will be implemented as of the second edition in 2016 onwards.

Outlining the benefits of this long-over-due festival for filmmakers and the Gambian economy, the founder, director and curator, Prince Sankanu says:

First of all, you cannot have a serious film industry without a professional film festival. You can make all the films you like, spray money and awards on people and do all the celebrity hype shows but without an institutionalized film festival, you will only be blowing out hot hair. A film festival is important to a film industry just like the way a trade fair is to the general commerce or pilgrimage is to the religious entities.

Secondly, many young Africans find it very difficult to get visas and funding for the global promotion of their films within the international film festival circuit. I therefore see it necessary to pioneer this professional marketing platform that will expose all hidden talents of our Gambian and African film industries. My serious world class film festival can provide the bona fide stakeholders the reference they could need to travel or apply for regional and international opportunities in the film trade when required.

Thirdly, my Cinekambiya International Film Festival (CIFF) will add value to the marketing mix of The Gambia’s tourism and investment brand by exposing its potentials to investors of the multi-billion dollar global creative economy. Gambia should have long been a leading location for filmmaking but things went wrong and continue to go wrong. My Cinekambiya International Film Festival (CIFF) is part of my patriotic duty of making sure Gambia becomes a respected centre for filmmaking and arts marketing, one step a time.

Fourthly, this film festival is developing the Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) of my established Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu brand. Those who are brave and sincere enough to associate themselves with my unconventional names and personality will benefit from my guts, craziness, creativity, risk-taking initiatives, brand value, exposure and gravitas.

Finally, the Cinekambiya International Film Festival (CIFF) is part of the promise package am keeping. When I met the current Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Momodou Joof in his office in 2012, we discussed my goals for the development of our Gambian Film Industry. He emphasized the need for serious local capacity building. In response, I promised to do all that is feasible from my expertise, experience and global connections to support indigenous capacity. This Cinkambiya film festival is part of my capacity building package as it is pioneering a standard-setting mechanism that Gambian and other filmmakers can use to showcase their skills and passion before the world.  The international film festival circuit will be closely studying the dynamics of my Cinkambiya film festival within the contexts of World Cinema and Postcolonial theory. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Momodou Sallah of the De Montfort University (DMU) and the Global Hands CIC Leicester UK for hosting the historic edition of my Cinekambiya International Film Festival at their Global Hands Manduar Development Hub in The Gambia. My appreciation goes to Dani Kouyaté, Arewa Bukky Bello and all the Gambian and non-Gambian filmmakers who sent me their films on time without doubting my professional ability of starting a world class film festival from zero. The appreciation is extended to Wittus Ngandjui of KupeFilm and Kupe TV in Cologne, Germany, for the graphic designs, the volunteers, the media corps and all those who believe in my Cinekambiya International Film Festival as a viable idea whose time has come. I am humbled by the fact that no sponsor or donour is giving me a dime to pay for the basic expenses of my film festival. It is a blessing in disguise as it will increase my bargaining power and resilience especially during the lean years of economic meltdowns. The Cinekambiya International Film Festival (CIFF) can serve as a case study on indigenous African economic empowerment and self-reliance.

The maiden edition the Cinekambiya International Film Festival (CIFF) will screen over 20 films from The Gambia, Cameroon, USA, Norway, Denmark, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Sweden and Mali. Parallel to the screenings, there will be special events such as the Cinekambiya Film Industry Forum where Gambian filmmakers will discuss the challenges they face in their field; world premier of the influential FGM documentary Musuya Kunto directed by Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu and produced by Han Van Roy with Wendy Leyten in charge of cinematography; Gambian and Sarahulleh community premier of SIA directed by Dani Kouyaté; presentations by Gambian Gender Rights groups on FGM, GBV and more; master classes; workshop on the prevention of extremism; Buba International Children Film Summit for children and family films and, Cinekambiya Celebrity Lounge honouring one of the leading Gambian actresses.

As part of the festival’s special events, The Girls’ Agenda will be making a presentation on Saturday 26 December 2015. The official opening ceremony is scheduled for Monday, 28 December 2015 from 9am. Both events will take place at the Global Hands Manduar Development Hub. For those who will miss this historic 2015 edition, the second edition will take place in May 2016 in The Gambia with the Pan African Screen Awards (PASA) component as the climax.

Key facts of the Prince Sankanu film festival-


Frequency: Annual

Classification: A-Class Gambian national and African regional film festival


Founder: Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu

Organizer: SANXAANU KAGGORO FILM KAFFO (SANXAAFI), registered charity in The Gambia

Maiden edition: 26 December 2015 to 03 January 2016

Theme of maiden edition: African Cinema and Gender Valuation

Venues: Global Hands Manduar Development Hub, Soccer Planet, Yemgaf & others in Tallinding Buffer Zone

Official website: http://www.cinekambiyainternationalfilmfestival.org/

Social Media: www.facebook.com/groups/SANXAANUKAGGOROFILM/

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