The debut episode of 5 Movies and the Word, a faith-based film festival that seeks to propagate the word through pop culture and live movie screenings was birthed in Calabar, capital of Cross River state on Saturday, 21, July 2018 at the City Church.
The day long festival which is all set to morph into the Calabar International Christian Festival by next year, had as theme, Social good as a Christian value and featured five live movie screenings. The films were diverse in geography, and in their choices of subject matter.
The highlight of the festival was a special showcase titled Mo, a feature length commissioned specially for the festival and directed by Oto-Obong Ekpenyong.
The screenings began with Sleeved, a non-dialogue short directed by Adeolu Adeniyi and starring Big Brother Naija former housemate, Tokunbo ‘’Tboss’’ Idowu as Kamtoro, a successful actress who must summon up the strength to leave an abusive relationship before permanent damage is done. Steeped in mood and the ability of the actors to convey their emotions non-verbally, Sleeved is a fine addition to the domestic violence canon.
The Israeli feature length documentary Hummus followed. Directed by Oren Rosenfield, Hummus is a tender, feel good love letter to the staple food of the middle east. But Hummus isn’t just concerned with food. The film ever so subtly hints at gender discrimination, toxic masculinity, migration and some other challenges of modern Israeli society. It also examines the complex relationships between Christians, Muslims and Arabs and how they are all bound by a shared love of hummus.
The short, Eno’s Demons directed by Oto-Obong Ekpenyong chronicles a day in the life of Eno, a young lady struggling with depression. Each of the screenings were followed by interactive question and answer segments where members of the audience shared thoughts and lessons derived from the films.
The Lost Café, the second major motion picture helmed by Kenneth Gyang was the fourth entry. The Lost Café, a breezy romantic drama, expertly captures the culture shock and loneliness that usually accompanies persons moving far away from home in the story of Ese, a young lady played by Tunde Aladese, who has to adapt to the challenges of moving to Norway to take up the opportunity of a lifetime. Mixing a cinephile’s love of film history with an entertainer’s eye for crowd pleasing moments, The Lost Café which had the Nigerian leg set in Calabar, received a generous welcome.
After a short break, a red carpet celebration heralded the premiere of Mo, an adaptation of the biblical story of Moses, from the book of Deuteronomy. Using a cast of local actors some of whom were acting for the first time, director Oto-Obong Ekpenyong, who also doubled as the festival’s creative director recreated the story of the birth and coming of age of Moses in a rural Cross River setting.
At the end of the program, Wilfred Okiche, a film critic presented Mo with the special jury prize for the film that most advances the biblical word while The Lost Café won the Audience choice award. Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu, writer of the screenplay received the trophy on behalf of the producers of The Lost Café.
In his remarks, Executive Director of the festival and leader of City Church, Calabar, Tony Aleogena-Raphael reiterated the importance of the festival for the word and for the life development center which he leads. In his words, ‘’We must stop merely complaining and criticizing the influences of pop culture but step up to the plate and compete for the hearts and souls of men.’’
Say hello to the Calabar International Christian Festival.