Wilfred Ukpong’s “Future World” Wins Film Award at ITB Berlin
Nigerian multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and researcher Wilfred Ukpong recently received a special film award at the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest annual tourism trade fair. His Afro-futuristic Arthouse short film Future World won the excellent golden award out of 120 international film entries under the Eco-Tourism category at The Golden City Gate Film Festival during the fair. The award ceremony was held at the Nigerian Embassy in Belin and hosted by the Nigerian Ambassador, His Excellency Yusuf Maitama Tuggar. The award was presented by Mr Wolfgang Jo Huschert, Chairman of the Federal Association of German Film and Audiovisual Producers and President of the International Tourism Film Festival. Ukpong’s landmark futuristic science fiction created in his co-owned Blazing Century Studios was filmed in the oil-rich, yet environmentally devastated Niger-Delta region of Southern Nigeria.
The film written, produced and directed by Ukpong is set against the backdrop of a fictional ecologically ravaged dystopian world called Mutanda and explores themes as varied as marginalization, decay, loss, grief, hope, evolution, and rebirth. Involving the talents of more than 100 community youths in the Niger-Delta, the film follows a large group of human-alien hybrids among four human-alien mothers and their relationship with an oil field engineer (Dr Blaze Inwang) through perilous expeditions, struggle for their land and their search for Utopia.
The narrative revolves around climate change and environmental pollution, as well as health-related issues in the Niger-Delta and draws from true-life stories, and regional myths to create a captivating otherworldly abstract universe pulsing with concepts of imagination and transformation, imbued with some of the most profound historical, ecological, and socio-cultural issues of our time. With an overarching interest in afro-futurism, Ukpong’s visual narrative breaks away from poverty realism often perpetuated by the media through “poverty porn,” which has negatively contributed to the subordinate identity for the African continent. He achieves this by training and engaging talented Nigerian youths in reimagining their future while acting in a seemingly sophisticated utopian universe (with opulent costumes and high-tech props) where their prowess, hopes, and dreams can come alive. As an artist, Ukpong gives proper attention to symbolism and visual stylization: the colours red and black reflect the violence of spilt blood and its source, crude oil; yellow represents the hope for a better future.
The 40-minute court métrage will be screened at international film festivals, art exhibitions, and cinemas with the aim of increasing awareness around socio-environmental issues facing the Niger Delta, as well as the exciting creative possibilities within the region.
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