By Samuel G. Dweh (freelance Journalist)
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The Eddie Mantu Gibson-led Liberia Movie Union (LIMU) has attracted the European Union (EU), and two EU’s member-States (France and Germany) toward LIMU’s Film Education (or Performing Arts) education in Liberia.
The Partners met at a four-day (1-4 March, 2023) Brainstorming, Practical, and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)-signing ceremonies, and certifications ceremonies. Titled “Training Workshop Culture and Creative Industries: Audio for Video Production”, the event was held at the NetLib. Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) in Congo Town.
The major sponsor of the event was the European Union, through its Mission/Delegation in Liberia. The EU supported the Project through its Culture and Creative Arts Department. Its partners were: African, Carribean, Pacific Oceans (ACPO), Goethe Institute (German), Institut Francais (French), Kore, NaFORO-BA (Cote D’ Voire), and Pentatonic Sound (Cote D’ Voice)
The first three days were dedicated to practical on Sound Engineering and Videography. These segments were facilitated by representatives of the Cote D’ Voire-based Institutions— NaFORO-BA and Pentatonic Sound. The former was represented by Adama Adepoju; the latter was represented by Adolphe Yace.
The body of trainees was comprised by LIMU members and persons not in the fold of LIMU.
“If Senator John A. Ballout were not standing behind me, I won’t have achieved the successes I’m now achieving at the Liberia Movie Union,” Mr. Eddie Mantu Gibson said during his remarks on Day Four of the event. He added: “If we, Liberians, do not tell our story, people of other Countries won’t do that for us. Or, if foreigners write Liberia’s stories, some of them will distort them against our Country.”
Mr. Gibson’s passion for the Film Industry began from his Elementary Day in his childhood Community (New Kru Town, in Monrovia) “The name of the first Movie I wrote and produced is Tribal Feud, about ethnic clashes between the Kru and Sarpo people in my County, Sinoe, during the Liberian civil war,” he had told a body of Journalists at one of LIMU’s Film-related programs in 2021.
“My leadership took over a struggling Film Industry. Many of the people in the Liberian Film Industry are poor,” LIMU president Eddie M. Gibson disclosed other problems being experienced by the Union.
“Eddie Gibson has brought a lot of dynamism and vision into the Liberia Movie Union,” declared Mr. John A. Ballout, Chairman of LIMU’s Board of Directors, and former Senator of Maryland County, during the 53rd Legislature, when Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was Head of State of Liberia (2006-2017)
He added, that when he was in the Senate, he lobbied with his Senatorial colleagues to add LIMU to the Government’s National Budgetary list for promotion of Liberia’s culture and entertainment through Films or Movie.
“But, the story has changed—the current Senate isn’t doing what we were doing,” the LIMU Board Chair lamented.
On promotion of Liberia’s Arts and culture, Mr. Ballout is nationally known for two of his personal contributions. The first was his huge financial support for and personal presence at the Monrovia’s Inter-High Schools Drama Contest in 2019 (when he was Senator) The second (when he was out of the Senate) was his financial support to the organization of the first post-war Liberia’s Entertainment Summit (21-22, October, 2021) organized by Shizo Entertainment, owned by Mr. Duploex Rickey Jaeploe, a popular arts and music promoter popular. The event was held at Destiny Event Center on the Capitol Bye-Pass, Monrovia.
The president of the Center for Educational Services in Liberia (CENSIL), Mr. Edwin Kalama, said his Institution is looking for Teachers for a new Course, Performing Arts, added to CENSIL’s list of subjects.
“We will accept only persons with Bachelor’s Degree, or Master’s Degree, for teaching. For those who want to be students for this course, there will be no Entrance Exam for members of the Liberia Movie Union,” the CENSIL president added.
Mr. Sylvannus Turay, former president of the Liberia Movie Union, challenged current members of LIMU to produced quality Films that will be loved by citizens of other Countries, like Films of other African Countries are loved by many Liberian movie lovers.
Filmmakers were given time to tell the audience about their journey through the Liberian Film Industry. Three of them were Zuama Sambolah, Rita G. Paye, and Kolubo K. Kokulo. The trio was a representative body of Talking Drum Studio, Liberia’s current leading Radio-channeled Drama platform for education and peace-related solutions to national problems
“I am an Actress. My being with Talking Drum Studio is putting food on the table for my family, which my exclusive reliance on Acting wasn’t doing,” Actress Kolubo K. Kokulo narrated to the body of participants.
The Ambassador of Germany, His Excellency Jakob Hasel Huber, said his Country’s Government spent, through Goethe Institute, spent US$2.4 billion in 2023 for Democracy-related promotion, through promotion of Arts and Culture (in Films/Movies) in many African Countries and other parts of the World.
“I hope Liberia will build a Cinema or a Theater Center for those aspiring to be filmmakers or to feature in Movies to learn,” the German Envoy indirectly tasked the Liberian Government and other stakeholders in the Country’s Film Industry.
The representative of the French Embassy, Mr. Harve Goudal, Deputy Head of Mission, said his Country’s involvement, through the Country’s Diplomatic Mission, in the LIMU-organized event was predominantly based on France being a member of the European Union that promotes Films-channeled Arts and Cultures around the Globe.
“It is important to have a movie education school in Liberia,” the French Embassy’s representative told the Liberians.
The Event concluded with LIMU’s certifications of persons whose filmic productions stood out, in terms of quality in stages of filmmaking; and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between LIMU and Institutions teaching Performing Arts. The MoU was for collaboration on Curriculum Development for the teaching of Performing Arts based on the Teacher’s possession of Associate of Arts Degree.
Certificates presentations were done by representatives of the German and French Embassies and Chairman of LIMU’s Board of Directors. Twenty persons received corticates..
Prior to LIMU’s four-day sensitization program, only State-owned University of Liberia (UL) and the Center for Educational Services in Liberia (CENSIL) were offering Performing Arts, as a Course, LIMU president Eddie M. Gibson disclosed to Journalists.
The Masters of Ceremony were: Duke Murphy of Radio Monrovia, and Fred Snorten of Liberia Movie Union.
“From the day the program ended, the Liberia Movie Union has been receiving calls from many two persons with Bachelor’s or Master’s Degrees, who expressed their interests to teach Theater Arts,” LIMU president Eddie Mantu Gibson has been telling this writer, beginning from the day following the date the event was held.
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