Nigerian-born and Oxford-based multidisciplinary artist, social practice researcher and filmmaker Wilfred Ukpong has won a special film award at the ITB Berlin. Ukpong’s futuristic Art-house short film “Future World,” made in his co-owned Blazing Century Studios in Nigeria won an excellent golden award out of one hundred and twenty international film entries under “Eco-Tourism” category at The Golden City Gate Film Festival during the ITB Berlin, the world’s leading Travel Trade show held annually in Berlin, Germany.

The ceremony was held at the Nigerian Embassy last month in Berlin and hosted by the Nigerian Ambassador, His Excellency Yusuf Maitama Tuggar. The award was presented to Ukpong by Mr Wolfgang Jo Huschert, Chairman of the Federal Association of German film and Audio-visual Producers and President of the International Tourism Film Festival (The Golden City Gate Berlin). The twenty-two member juries comprising of European film and cultural experts commented on the film as a significant landmark futuristic science-fiction, first made in Nigeria and for its response to current ecological issues. They praised the artist c** filmmaker’s original approach to combining fiction and reality, cinema and art, in an innovative frame.

The court-métrage, filmed in coastal communities in Lagos and the Niger-Delta between 2012 and 2017 is also considered as a critical and creative endeavours that seek to engenders ecological sustainability, political empowerment, cultural evolution, economic development of disenfranchised communities and shows the imperative to preserve some leftover fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas (featured in the film) which can attract both ecological and film tourism in the country. Ukpong sees Future World as a mirror that reflects on the complexity of our industrial age and shows the paradox of Southern Nigeria, known as an oil-rich region and yet heavily saddled with environmental pollution caused by non-biodegradable waste materials, oil spillage and gas flaring. The award-winning filmmaker hopes that his film will serve as a catalyst to engender new environmental consciousness and change while prompting oil and gas companies and the government to reduce pollution and consider their impacts on the delta’s rich ecosystem.

Over the past five years, Ukpong has been developing two feature films, a science- fiction thriller and a science-fiction adventure designed for international mainstream audience. The sci-fi thriller is inspired by pre-characters and moments of Future World, while the adventure film is inspired by characters, moments and concept of Future World. The feature films 80 minutes long are slated at budgets between $23 million and $30 million each and will be developed in Blazing Century Studios in a collaborative venture with Thompson & Grace Investment Nigeria and studios in America, Europe and Asia. The filmmaker is currently in talks with foreign studios to commence production of one of the feature during the last quarter of 2018 for release in summer 2019. The film will be shot mainly in Nigeria with additional filming locations abroad.


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