Abuja,March 15, 2019   Filmakers and  other  industry players have called for the return to the era of  community cinemas to boost the distribution of Nollywood movies and curb the menace of piracy in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the stakeholders made the call on Friday at a conference on Film and Video Distribution and Regulation in Abuja.

The conference, with the theme: “Film and Video Distribution and Regulation: Institutional Collaboration to Improve Standards”, was organised by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).

They said that if government and investors established at least one cinema in every local government area in Nigeria, it would create market for  Nollywood films.

They said that such community cinemas would also ensure that genuine and approved films by NFVCB were accessible to Nigerians, thereby minimising the menace of pirated films.

Mrs Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, noted that annual output of  films  from the Nigerian movie industry was increasing without commensurate increase in distribution channels and markets.

“The screen density in Nigeria is extremely low compared with our huge population, therefore, it is imperative to encourage the building of more cinemas across Nigeria.

“It is worthy to note that Saudi Arabia has just allowed public cinemas to re-open after it was banned for more than 35 years, a move estimated to bring 300 new cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030.

“Against this backdrop, I wish to use this platform to challenge all our stakeholders,investors and well-meaning Nigerians to ensure that we move up to the next level in film and video distribution,” she said.

Mr Tunji Bamishegbin, a Nigeria’s foremost filmmaker, called for building and sustaining the  culture of cinemas in the country’s motion picture sector.

“It is in the hands of distributors and government to build cinemas that will be easily accessed by the Nigerian audience.

“Cinemas should be located where you have high concentration of people, because cinema is a mass-oriented business.

“If government champions the building of cinemas and provides the enabling environment, it will then attract private investors,” he said.

Mr Baba Dala, a board member of the NFVCB, said that opening more cinemas would create employment and generate income to investors and government.

“Creation of more cinemas across the country will surely boost the contribution of Nollywood to national economic development,” he added.

On his part, Mr Adedayo Thomas, the Executive Director of the NFVCB, explained that the creative industry contributed 1.4 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP in 2018 and could do even more.

He, however, reiterated the board’s determination to sanitise the industry of uncensored and unclassified films and video works.

The NFVCB boss added that the conference was an opportunity for industry players to share ideas and draw lessons from the experiences of other countries doing well in the creative sector.

“This conference is intended to bring both the practitioners and the regulator under one roof to discuss salient issues that technology has brought to the fore in movie distribution,” Thomas said.