I am delighted to welcome you today on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office to the 3rd edition of the Africa Hub at the European Film Market.
Today, here at ‘the’ meeting point and center of Africa-related activities at the Berlinale – I want to thank you all for being here. And I would like to especially thank Matthijs Knol and his team: Not only for the fruitful cooperation but also for his persistent belief in and enthusiasm for the Africa Hub.
When I took over my new position as Minister of State I decided to travel to Nigeria – as my first destination in Africa. I wanted to dive into the world of some of the well-known capitals of creativity in Africa. And –actually – when I was in “Nollywood”, I met producers, actors – and in fact also Omoni Oboli – one of the top stars of African movie.
This meeting impressed me, as it again proved to me that Africa has much more to offer than a debate, let’s say, on migration and crisis.
Also, by the way, our coalition agreement highlights our partnership with Africa and the intention to increase cultural exchange and cooperation.
Movies are a great instrument to learn from each other. Not only watching movies, but also making movies: They bring people together and can draw us into cultures and stories of “unknown worlds”.
I am delighted that the Africa Hub has become a great “connector” and established itself as a spotlight within the European Film Market. It is a “makers’ space”, a network and laboratory; a place to be creative and to experiment.
When we assisted to initiate the Africa Hub two years ago, we could have hoped for nothing less!
Today we are tremendously proud that it has grown in popularity and profile. That it has become a unique venue to showcase films, stories and people from Africa.
The Federal Foreign Office takes a special interest in the film industry and networks because we know that challenges like effective distribution, business skills and access to finance need to be addressed.
It is our conviction that empowering African film will positively impact and strengthen economies. Therefore, I would also like to use this opportunity to encourage players in Africa’s public and private sectors to engage more actively in creative industries and in particular in the film industry.
We at the Federal Foreign Office see great potential in this field and that is why we started our Film Initiative for Africa in 2016. Likewise we increased our support for African productions and co-productions in the framework of the World Cinema Fund and assist in establishing useful networks within the film industry.
To invest in creative industries means to invest in people expressing their views.
Creative industries contribute to sustainable societies and to diversity. International cooperation in creative industries can inspire strong civil society networks, partnerships and coproduction platforms – among African countries as well as among African and European countries.
Last but not least: Strong civil societies and diversity mean: A better women representation and better women networks in film. That is also why I am very happy that the empowerment of women is the topic of today’s panel discussion at the Africa Hub!
I just came from the Pro Quote event at the Federal Foreign Office that I initiated and am very excited about the turn up and discussion.
I wish you exciting experiences, unexpected conclusions and opportunities to meet many wonderful people. And I am looking forward to not only travelling more, but watching many more innovative African movies, film projects and co-productions in the near future!