The Africa International Film Festival sparkled by Martini had its special Awards Ceremony at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki – a few moments at this festival cannot be forgotten in a hurry. Like the night Africa’s finest A-list actors, producers, and directors dazzled the red carpet with everything they’ve got on Thursday, at the official opening premiere and screening of Leila Djansi’s “Ties that Bind” – a film that unearthed Omotola Jalade Ekeinde as a dynamic method actress – a film that revealed her incredible ability to interpret a relatable role effortlessly. Omotola’s performance was awe-inspiring, because throughout the duration of the film, we did not see Omotola Jalade Ekeinde – we only saw the character she was playing – talk about total immersion into a role, and that’s exactly what she delivered. This captivating drama woven around a single hope that connects three women, living three different lives also stars Kimberly Elise, Randal Batinkoff, and Ama k. Abebrese. It’s Leila Djansi’s third film – and as she put it, “the film was inspired from a personal place”.

The red carpet, and the romance with Martini – there’s really something seductive about the Martini brand, maybe it’s the colors – or maybe it’s the fact that these celebrities can relate to the sophisticated lifestyle that Martini exemplifies – or maybe they just love the fact that Martini threw its weight behind the African film industry – behind a worthy cause– whatever it is, these celebrities were subconsciously drawn to the Martini logo on the media wall as they dazzled and posed for pictures on the red carpet. The gorgeous Genevieve Nnaji had this Halle Berry suave going as she posed for pictures with dozens of frenzied fans; Omotola put the E in sexy, as she glided on the red carpet like the African version of Snow White; Omoni Oboli was stunning in her amiable manner; Rita Dominic made eyes dance as she strutted on the red carpet with her entourage of velvety-skinned damsels; but then Lynn Whitfield shone like a galaxy of stars – you needn’t have seen her films to know she was someone very special – she displayed well-cultivated red carpet etiquettes – smiling, hugging, and posing with her colleagues and fans.

It was indeed a Blush Night, as Martini in its trademark glam hosted the hardworking artists and over 200 guests to a glitz-filled festival party at the exotic Villa Angelia Hotel, where everything that glittered were actually worth more than gold – from the sparkling Martini Rose to the glamorous celebrities in beautiful dresses – from the blinged up red carpet decor to the amazing poolside fountain. High profile media stakeholders like Ben Bruce (Silverbird Group) and Biola Alabi (MNET Africa) were at the party to mingle with the film makers who came from all over the world to celebrate African films. Alex Kothoor, the managing director of GDN Nigeria Limited – official reps of Martini was at the party to make sure the glasses in the building were sparkling with Martini Rose. Kate Henshaw, Rita Dominic, Omoni Oboli, and Lynn Whitfield were the media favorites as there was never a time when they weren’t been besieged by the press to grant them interviews, which they did with overwhelming graciousness.

As he sipped on his Martini Rose, Kibwe Tavarez a UK-based film director and animator shared his filmmaking ideology with James Amuta – explaining the visual metaphor and thematic symbolism in his animated film Robots of Brixton, which was screened at the festival on Thursday. He spoke passionately about his impressions of the Lagos – being his first visit to Nigeria, he expressed his appreciation for the quality of films he saw, but lamented the fact that the film industry is still a little bit underappreciated by corporate organizations. He hinted that he may be considering collaborating with some talented Nigerians to set up a world class animation studio in the country in the future.

The Africa International Film Festival – sparkled by Martini, ended with the Awards Ceremony (Saturday, 3rd December) at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki. I believe a big kudos is in order for Chioma Ude, the founder of this prestigious award that’s bringing African films to attention of the world. Let’s drink a Martini Rose to that.

Below are few pictures from the Film Festival:

Uncle Joe

Omoni Oboli

Rita

Rita Dominic

Omotola


James Amuta and Kibwe Tavarez


Kunle Afolayan

Guest

Genievive

Foreign Guests

Chioma Ude

Alex Kothoor and Chioma Ude

Ben Bruce

Oc Ukeje

lLnn and Fans

Leila Djansi (L) and fans

Leila Djansi - Director of Ties that Bind

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