May 5, 2022 – Last weekend, WPDI Founder and CEO Forest Whitaker was invited by UNESCO to close the 5th edition of the Cameroon International Film Festival (CAMIFF). During the Festival, Mr Whitaker was also awarded the Excellence Award from the Cameroon Film Industry Organization and the Cameroon International Film Festival’s Board of Trustees for his outstanding contribution to bringing “authentic and futuristic African narratives to the global stage” through his films.

Over four days, the festival is showcasing more than 60 films that focus on and promote African culture, films by independent African filmmakers, films about history or historical landmarks, and films that address issues affecting the world. Overall, the Festival aims to promote a unique film culture from Cameroon – the so-called Collywood -, including through the organization of masterclasses, workshops and symposiums, which have invariably empowered local filmmakers to propel the professionalization of the artistic sector in a struggling African nation.

The Festival resonates deeply with the life and career of Forest Whitaker, who, as UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, constantly seeks to mobilize cinema and the arts at large in the service of universal values such as nonviolence, tolerance and dialogue. Promoting these values through culture is all the more essential in Cameroon, a country long faced with tensions and conflicts nurtured by cultural divides compounded by economic inequalities. It is to address such challenges that WPDI has joined forces with UNESCO to undertake a project that combines peacebuilding efforts with economic development in view of empowering young people of Cameroon (the project also covers Chad and Gabon). In the same vein as the CAMIFF, which seeks to showcase the potential of Cameroon artists for creativity, WPDI and UNESCO aim to foster the emergence of a new generation of Cameroonians who can drive positive transformation in their country and beyond.

Pushing for this ideal, Forest Whitaker’s acceptance message highlighted the power of film to bring people together in the region and paid testament to the festival’s commitment to raise awareness on the creativity of Cameroonian and African artists. 

“Film and filmmakers have a great responsibility and opportunity in our society, shaping our understanding of the world, and making a direct impact on our shared consciousness. For decades, I’ve seen how movies can unite people from incredibly varied backgrounds, helping us to comprehend the past and dream for the future, as we gain empathy for people with unique and different life experiences to our own,” said Forest Whitaker.

The Cameroon International Film Festival – CAMIFF is established with the aim to help create a vibrant film culture throughout the region. Every May the event will be committed to curating exceptional programs to engage and educate the local community, inspire filmmakers and nurture the growth of the Cameroon and African film industry. with its commitment to presenting works of Cameroonian filmmakers in competition alongside those by major talent of world cinema. CAMIFF offers Cameroon diverse and enthusiastic audiences a means of engaging with their own and others’ culture through the art of CINEMA. At the same time, a strong focus on the CAMIFF as a place for the world to discover and gauge the pulse of recent Cameroon and African films/filmmakers.

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