KUNLE Afolayan stormed the Nigerian pavilion at the on-going Cannes International Film Festival in France with an international film programmer. “We just held a useful meeting with Keith (Shiri) on my next film project, The Figurine. I am here on his invitation,” he said. Kunle whose debut movie effort, Irapada, has been screened in a number of festivals, said he was in France to explore funding, distribution and screening opportunities. He revealed that, so far, he has received encouraging responses, while still looking forward to an out of the country premiere of the film. He speaks to Moviedom on his mission.
Mission to Cannes
I am here on the invitation of an international film programmer and a resource person to most of the festivals and events around film in Africa. He was in Nigeria during the AMAA Award, where I showed him a bit of my new work, The Figurine. I think when he returned to England, he discussed it with some people, who run festivals and he now requested that I come around to meet some of the festival organisers such as the team from Toronto Film Festival in Cannes. So, that’s why I am here
Is the film ready?
Not yet; production-wise, we have gone 90 per cent and have started post-production. However, but If we could raise enough fund to finish it, it would be ready in the next one or two months.
Cost of the film project
We have spent almost N35 million, so far. The project is big and comes with challenges such as poor distribution network, which has made it difficult to convince people to put in their money, even when it will be paid back with interest. The money we have spent so far was raised personally. I took some bank loans and then sold some of my properties to get along. I also have some companies’ support based on barter. Of course, so many people are aware that the hotel — Micom Golf and Hotel resort — we stayed in, is partnering with us. They gave us free accommodation throughout our stay in Osun, but feeding took about N10 million out of our budget. We are doing product placement for Unilever, Glaxo, and Omatek Computers. Some of them gave us their products instead of money. For me, I am just looking for a way to do a totally Nigerian thing, you know even from the products we used and from the language we speak. I intend to really make it a proudly Nigeria thing or what I call a purely naija-naija thing. Right now we are a bit stuck because we have expended all the money we have and for us to really achieve our mindset, we need more money. That’s why I am here. I hope to get enough support to complete the movie.
Between Irapada and The Figurine
I am very convinced that this will outshine my debut movie, Irapada. For me, the film was an experiment. Fortunately it was well accepted. But this one, I have incurred so much and apart from that, the story is even stronger than the one we told in Irapada. Technically, it is so many steps away from it. So, all we need now is support from the media both at home and abroad so that this will benefit too from the kind of hype that Irapada had. I believe that this will fly. We have put in so much to know that it will fly. It will definitely fly because locally people are tired of the same kind of productions that we do. People want to see something different. They want to see good picture and sound. They want to see something catchy. I am one of those who hold strongly that the whites cannot tell our stories better than us, which is why in this film I try to balance it — from the past, to the present. We played a lot with the entire departments just to make it proudly Nigerian and African. It’s going to be a revolution. I am working on the Nigerian premiere between August and September because I took money from a bank and I need to start paying by then. But I am hoping that the team from Toronto International Film Festival likes it. If that happens, then we should be having the world premiere in Toronto in September. However, before then, I need some money to just complete the film — between N3 and 4 million because there are some things to get right. We have gone far locally, but we can’t handle the colour correction and grading in Nigeria. It has to be done outside our shores and that will cost money. So, we need support from government and corporate organisations to get this project off the ground. They need to come to our aid because, at the end it’s not going to be me alone that will take the credit — it is a Nigerian thing. If the film makes the festival circuit, it’s a Nigerian movie and not Kunle Afolayan’s movie. I am going to enter it as a Nigerian film. That way it represents everybody. So hopefully by September we will start getting a feel of the movie, but help me tell Nigerians that I still need money to work on the last aspect of the movie, which is just about 10 per cent.
Around and about Nollywood...
NANTAP faults UNESCO report on Nollywood
GREG Odutayo, president of National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), has joined the long list of practitioners who have faulted the outcome of a recent survey on filmmaking commissioned by the United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). In the widely circulated reports, Nigeria was declared the second largest film/movie-producing nation. But Odutayo discussed the report, saying it is with ‘too many loopholes and very little reference to the source of information’. The NANTAP president, who is also a television and film director, said he expected UNESCO to have reviewed the report before putting it out, noting that it fell short of mentioning the value and acceptability of the films practitioners in Nigeria produce. ‘Yes it is watched all over the world but can it stand in the committee of nations when film making is being discussed and evaluated?’ Odutayo, who disagreed with the suggestion that returned to celluloid as the first step towards being admitted to the comity of film producing nations, said: ‘We do not need to produce on celluloid to gain worldwide and international acceptability. Totsi that won an Oscar award was shot on video…The world is evolving and we must reinvent ourselves constantly otherwise we become extinct. Our musicians have done it, and are still doing it. We too can do it’. Nollywood, Odutayo agreed, has done tremendously well and has projected Nigeria filmmakers and their style of filmmaking. He agreed too that it has turned a huge employer of labour and has done more for Nigeria than all the money Nigeria spends on public relations on CNN. He, however, thinks that what should be of concern now is how to improve the quality of productions to what is termed ‘international standard’ rather than resort to self- praise over a report, which in the estimation of the NANTAP President, was designed to ridicule Nigeria. ‘Let us stop the praises and apply ourselves to improving the quality of our productions to what is termed international standard… It is not so far away. We have the quality; we just need to apply ourselves to it. But we cannot apply ourselves if we continue to sit around gloating over the UNESCO report that to me has been done to present us as a point of ridicule to the world… Imagine if a mere 10 per cent of our films were of international standards instead of Nigeria standards and making the rounds at international festivals. The buzz will be tremendous,’ Odutayo surmised.
Edo unity festival project on board
BENIN CITY, the capital of Edo State, will come alive between November 10 and 14, with the hosting of a special socio-cultural event tagged Edo Unity Film Project 2009. The theme of this maiden edition, according to a statement from the organisers is ‘Putting Edo State on the International Map of Film Event’. Popular actor Sam Obeakemhe, who is the Project Director, disclosed that the event, which has the blessing of the Edo State government would feature seminars and symposia, workshop and panel discussions, film screening and exhibition, cultural exhibition and performances, among others. The Oba Akenzua II Cultural Centre, Benin City, has been designated as the main venue of the project, which the first socio-cultural and multi-media expo to be held in Edo State. Primarily aimed at promoting the cultural values of Edo State, the event, Obeakemhe disclosed, would begin at 10 every morning and close at 4pm. A special gala and award ceremony to round off the fiesta holds at 7pm on November 14.
NFC extends closing date for yearly essay competition
CLOSING date for the 2009/2010 edition of the Nigerian Film Corporation Essay competition has been extended. Earlier scheduled to close on May 27, the new date is now June 27, 2009. In a statement, the corporation said the reason for the extension is to enable many Nigerians who have indicated interest to participate in the competition, time to send in their entries. In extending the closing date, therefore, the corporation intends to give many more Nigerians the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Nigerian motion picture industry through cerebral discourse. Topic for the edition is building a positive global brand: the place of film. Interested Nigerians who must be 18 years and above can now submit their entries, which must be between 8 – 10 pages in the Times Roman format. All entries according to the statement should be forwarded to the Headquarters of the Nigerian Film Corporation, 218T, Liberty Dam Road, Jos, Plateau State or through email email@example.com. The first, second and third winners of the essay competition will receive their cash prizes of N100, 000, N75, 000 and 50,000 respectively, along with their certificates at the 2010 edition of ZUMA Film Festival, holding in Abuja.
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities
Fidelis gave us something to cheer about
WE couldn’t explain why film maker and Chief Executive Officer of the yearly Abuja Film Festival, Fidelis Duker, was walking tall and shoulder high through out his stay in Cannes until he got waka pass to flip through an attractive brochure, which he insisted must be seen. It was when he guided us to a particular page on the brochure that we discovered that he was listed in the brochure. The long and short is that Fidelis had his film ‘Senseless’ showing at the short film corner of the Cannes International Film Festival. To be eligible, Fidelis who stormed Cannes with his wife, Tope, had to reduce the near two-hour long movie to 33 minutes. Now, don’t get waka pass wrong. This is not about our film showing at the Cannes as they made us believe last year. It’s about one of us even making an attempt to have his films accepted for a short film corner and getting a mention in the short film corner brochure. And talking about brochure, those coming to pick Oga Fidelis from the airport must come with a truck. He is coming with a bag filled with brochures where he was mentioned. He needs to support the claim of having his short film shown at the Cannes with the brochures since seeing is believing in Nollywood. But bros, one waka pass has been harassing me to ask whether it was because your film showed in the short film corner that you brought madam? The same fellow wonder what the size of your delegation will be if your next movie shows even out of competition? Na send dem send us ooooo!
Visa issues keep Nigerian filmmakers away
IT may no be the economic crunch that kept Nigerian filmmakers away from Cannes 2009 as most of them were refused visa by the French Consulate in Nigeria. But for Mr. Afolabi Adesanya, managing director of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), who promptly improvised, the forum on tax incentives and investment opportunities in Nigeria organised as part of Nigeria’s participation at the Cannes would have been cancelled. All the resource person from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) were denied visas. It was also gathered that two journalists, one of them an editor with a leading Nigerian daily was also denied visas. ‘We were more than this last year. This is a slim delegation compared to the previous years we have come here,’ remarked filmmaker Mahmood Ali-Balogun, who has since returned to Nigeria. By the way, someone asked us to find out from Oga Mahmood and Fidelis Duker whether it was the much-talked about economic crunch that made them leave earlier. The fellow said it was unusual of them to leave before the end of festival and that he didn’t quite feel their impact this time, as they didn’t declare free lunch or dinner for the delegation as they say Oga Mahmood would normally do. Oga na true abi dis na another case of someone who wants salary from NEPA when he is a staff of water board?
Madu Chikwendu and the ATM machine
Not sure if he was able to get his card out, but one of the reasons Madu Chikwendu became so broke that he had to call up his in-laws in the United States to help out was because an ATM machine swallowed his ATM card in Cannes and would not let him have it. The waka pass, who sold this gist, to us, also hinted that the other reason is that an agent the former President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and current regional secretary of FEPACCI engaged to help reserve accommodation went for Madu’s jugular. The agent aware of Madu’s status at the continental level, got Madu something commensurate to his CV but did not care to ask what Madu would prefer in this season of all types of crunches. So, on checking in, Madu according to a source deposited, almost 70 per cent of the funds he came into Cannes with only for accommodation. Madu’s inability to communicate in French may be the reason why he has been finding it difficult to get the ATM card off the machine. Someone who knows someone who knows Madu has advised the director of Sculptorico and other movies to go and enroll for a two weeks French class and insist that all he wants to learn is how to tell someone at the bank that he wants to retrieve his ATM. Kai! To God Be the Glory.