A frame from the 1976 film “Shaihu Umar”, which tells the story of the life of the cleric Shaihu Umar. The film was long thought to be lost. In 2016, negatives and copies were discovered in the archives of the Nigerian Film Corporation and restored by Arsenal – Institute for Film, Video and Sound with the support of the German Embassy in Abuja. This project led to the cooperation between the two universities.

The University of Jos will offer a master’s degree in film archiving and film culture modelled on Goethe University programme.

A Frankfurt master programme serves as an international prototype: With support from the DAAD, the master programme “Film Culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation”, which has been offered jointly by Goethe University and the Deutsches Filminstitut (German Film Institute) since 2013, will have a counterpart in Nigeria in 2019. The programme trains professionals for film archives and work in institutions of film culture.

What are the career prospects for graduates of small humanities programs such as film studies? The master programme “Film Culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation” delivers a clear answer. For five years, the programme has trained up to 20 experts for film and media archives and film culture institutions per year with a placement record of nearly 100%. The success of the programme, which at the Goethe University is headed by Assistant Professor Sonia Campanini and Professor Vinzenz Hediger, now serves as an inspiration for universities and institutions of film culture in other countries.

Starting in the fall of 2019, the National Film Corporation of Nigeria, which includes the nation’s film school, the National Film Institute, and the National Archive for Film, Video and Sound, will join up with the University of Jos to offer the first master programme for film archival studies in Africa, which will be modelled on the Frankfurt programme. According to UNESCO statistics, Nigeria is now the second most important film producing nation in the world after India, with an annual output of around 1000 feature films in English as well as in the three main languages Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. Through digital distribution networks, Nigerian films reach audiences across the continent and in the African diaspora worldwide.

According to Sonia Campanini, training scientific personnel for film archives in Nigeria serves a twin purpose: “The first goal is to establish a policy and practice for the preservation of the national film heritage, and the second goal is to ensure the future visibility and accessibility of this heritage in Nigeria and beyond.” In its current form, the Nigerian film industry is geared toward novelty, with an output of dozens of new films each week. In the foreseeable future, the industry will move to a copyright strategy modelled on Hollywood’s business model, based on the long-term exploitation of popular older films.

The Jos master programme will provide the technical and cultural know-how for this transition. For Ellen Harrington, the director of the Deutsches Filminstitut, the cooperation with Nigeria is an ideal fit for the international profile of her institution. “The professional exchange with partners all over the world is a core element of who we are as an institution. Africa is an impressively diverse and productive hub for film production, which we experience every year at our Africa Alive film festival here in Frankfurt. We are very much looking forward to the collaboration with our counterparts in Nigeria and are excited about the valuable impulses and new insights which we will gain from it.”

Goethe University and Deutsches Filminstitut will closely cooperate with the NFC and the University of Jos for a four year period. At the heart of the cooperation is a multi-faceted training programme, which includes fellowships for Nigerian faculty and staff who will be able to study work methods in the current programme at Goethe University and Deutsches Filminstitut, as well as at Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art (Berlin). Faculty from Goethe University and experts from Deutsches Filminstitut will furthermore develop and implement the various modules of the degree programme by co-teaching with faculty in Jos. The funding for the cooperation is provided by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) in the framework of the TNB transnational education programme.

The cooperation strengthens Goethe University’s international profile in Africa research which is also exemplified by the Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies in Frankfurt. The cooperation with the University of Jos and the Nigerian Film Corporation further expands Goethe University’s focus on Western and Sub Saharan Africa, which is also a particular focus of the German government’s current foreign policy.

According to Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, managing director of the Nigerian Film Corporation, the DAAD’s support “is predicated on the impressive bilateral relations between Nigeria and Germany.” Through TNB Archival Studies Master programme, Dr. Maduekwe says, “we are determined and committed to building a robust post graduate programme that will be characterized by high level professional manpower turnout to address present and future challenges in archival management, studies, and research in Nigeria and Africa.“

The groundwork for the project was laid when Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, Berlin, with the support of the German foreign office created a digitization facility in the National Archive for Film, Video and Sound in Jos and restored SHAIHU UMAR (Adamu Halilu, 1976), showing it at the 2018 Berlinale festival. “We are looking forward to building on our close cooperation with the Nigerian Film Corporation and the Frankfurt master programme in film culture, and we are happy to see that this cooperation now has a long-term perspective with the Jos archival studies programme”, says Arsenal Co-director Stefanie Schule Strathaus. “The cooperation with Nigerian partners, which was initiated through the founder of Lagos Film Society, Didid Cheeka, in 2015 has had an important impact on Arsenal, and we are convinced that the Frankfurt film studies programme will find great inspiration in their continuing cooperation with Jos.”

The cooperation between the German and Nigerian partners comes out of the ongoing “Archive außer sich” project, which focuses on various aspects of the global audio-visual heritage and which Arsenal jointly organizes with Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The Frankurt film studies programme is one of the partners in this project, and participated in a conference on questions of national audio-visual heritage at the National Film Institute in Jos in October 2017.

Further information: Institute for Drama, Film and Media Studies, Faculty 10, Westend Campus, Dr. Sonia Campanini, Tel. +49 (0)69 798-33278 Campanini@tfm.uni-frankfurt.de , Dr. Vinzenz Hediger, Tel. +49 (0)69 798-32079: +49 (0) 151 644 188 35, hediger@tfm.uni-frankfurt.de