Badagry International Film Festival 2023 Beckons

By Benjamin Olisah 

The festival, which will take place at the Lagos Theatre in Badagry, is currently accepting submissions via Film Freeway. The festival promises to showcase independent films from filmmakers around the world, as well as VIP events, panel sessions, and an award ceremony. This inaugural film festival is part of BIFIF mission to support and develop the artistic appreciation, educational opportunities, and growth of independent film in and around Badagry, Africa, and among people of African descent. The foundation primarily aims, through the film festival, to promote the exhibition of independent films and support future filmmaking endeavours through scholarship opportunities.

The festival founder and CEO, Mr. Viyon Awhanse, and the festival director for the maiden edition, Mr. Segun Arinze, also known as Black Arrow, are both well-known figures in the Nigerian film industry. Arinze is a famous actor, director, producer, writer, singer, voice-over artiste, and TV host. Awhanse is the Principal Consultant of Saveoviyon Company, an audio visual production company and Gbagi Communication Ltd, an emerging force in the entertainment circle.

Filmmaker, social crusader, who holds a firsts degree in Economics, Awhanse has for decades garnered experience in different strata of the communications industry and has become a recognizable voice in the media and entertainment world. He has work as a production executive for close to 1,000 episodes of television programme, ranging from work on premium cable networks like Multichoice Nigeria (Jemeji, Forbidden, Halita) and La Unidad for Movistar Spain, and Spanish TV series Sky High (Hasta El Cielo on Netflix, to web-based content (Before Dawn and The Origin feature film – for Universal Display Studio) to released features Half of a Yellow Sun, The Antique, The Price – USA, Kanaani the movie to Rogers Ofime’s Conversation in Transit) Sèblá, a short film, and currently in development stage as feature film, etc.

He has worked on numerous musical videos and reality shows as production executive, including Football Challenge with John Fashanu (writer), Maltina Family Dance All (writer) Star Game show (Floor Manager) Malta Guinness Street Dance (Floor Manager) and Celebrity Takes (Floor Manager).

Viyon considers ‘My Badagry! My Future’, an NGO he founded out of his burning desire to give back and foster development in his hometown, Badagry, as his most important project yet. He believes Badagry town and its environs are lagging behind compared to other towns despite its rich history and socio-economic potential. His hard work in this area has not gone unnoticed as he has been nominated for an indigenous award for his social crusading.

On the choice of Badagry for a film festival, Viyon says the ancient town is an important place in Nigeria because it was where western civilization first touched down in Nigeria with the advent of white missionaries. Now, there’s a need to highlight Badagry’s rich history in the cinematic craft, he says, arguing that the festival will teach people about the town and its history. There have been lots of great movies and TV shows made in Badagry, like Bisi Daughter of the River, Mirror in the Sun, and Village Headmaster. There’s also a movie called Phone Swap that has some really famous actors in it. There are even more movies that are based in Badagry like the Kuju’s and telenovela like Jemeji for Mnet AfricaMagic.

He makes a list of prominent Badagry filmmakers with whom he is in partnership for the festival to include Segun Arinze (festival director), Yinka Davies, Mawuyon Ogun, Sewedo Nupowaku, Setonji Avoseh, Moyo Lawal, Medeyonmi Dada and Miyonse Amosu (former Big Brother Nigeria housemate).

For Viyon, Badagry International Film Cultural and Sports Festival is designed to achieve specific objectives that include boosting the local economy such that when people come to BIFIF, they will spend money on things like food, lodging, and transportation, adding. “This would help our local businesses and create jobs. It will also encourage cultural exchange by showcasing movies from different countries and cultures. This will help people learn about and appreciate other ways of life, enhance community involvement by bringing people together and creating a sense of community. The festival will also give people a chance to share their own stories and ideas, and raise awareness about important issues as films deal with social and environmental issues and provide a platform for discussion and encourage people to take action. Building connections and collaborations with other filmmakers and artists to meet and work together, which can lead to new projects and opportunities, and promote sustainable development by raising awareness about environmental issues and encourage people to live more sustainably. BIFIF will also promote collaboration for environmental protection and conservation.”

Viyon also argues that Badagry has a really interesting history, which has been featured in a lot of TV shows and movies, “because of its unique culture and past, but that there’s more to Badagry than just the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Back in the day, Badagry was a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade. This means that a lot of people were taken from Africa and brought to other parts of the world to be sold as slaves. It’s a really sad part of our history, but it’s important to remember, so that we can learn from it and make sure it never happens again. But Badagry is more than just a place where bad things happened. It’s also a place with rich culture and traditions. People in Badagry have their own unique ways of doing things, and they’re proud of it. That’s why it’s been featured in so many TV shows and movies – the town and its history fascinate people.” 

For submission of independent films to the festival, visit or send mails to

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