BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
THE scene is just too real. Strapped onto a delivery bed in the labour room, Genevieve Nnaji fills the space with moaning, her small pretty face moving from left to right in pains. She gets an occasional ‘push… we are nearly there’ from the dutiful medical director, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, who is Genny’s confidant. A man with unkempt beards — Benjamin Johnson — barges in to identify himself as Genny’s husband. He is allowed to be bathed in the pain of delivery. Anxiety fills the air. Soon… the baby is delivered and a loud scream, Cut! came from Mahmood Ali-Balogun, who is outside. He is calling the shot and has been watching proceedings in the labour room from a monitor that is some metres away from a production console manned by Dennis Patrick, the film’s script supervisor. Patrick is one of the five-man crewmember that Ali-Balogun (MAB) sourced from the United States for the shoot that spanned nearly 10 weeks. Others are Keith Holland, who functioned as Director of Photography; Que Edwards, who handled camera; Kelly Freeman who worked as loader; and Toi Whitaker; production designer. Oh, well the reverie inside the labour room tragically ends. But it is only a movie; in fact Mahmood Ali-Balogun’s 35 mm film Tango with Me, the stock heading to Dubai anytime soon for post production. The adorable Genevieve is in the film as a lead character. The actress is playing alongside quality hands such as Joke Silva, Ahmed Yerima and Alex Osifo-Omiagbo. It is her second outing on celluloid and she speaks of the experience:
The Big Screen
Well, it’s my second time experiencing shooting on film and I am prepared for it. It has been easier for me than most, because I have had my own fair share of experience. I shot a movie in LA. It was actually premiered this November, but I didn’t go because I was busy with this one. It was a big premiere screened in Los Angeles. It starred Omotola Ekeinde and I, alongside members of the Screen Actors Guild of America. I enjoy working on the big screen because it has a level of professionalism and seriousness to it. You can’t waste time making mistakes and all that. Basically, not much of repeat takes. It is a good experience and the crew that has come in to do this particular project are pretty good, at what they are doing and we are all learning as well. All in all, it has been a good experience.
‘Quality’ in Nigerian film
I don’t think it is about shooting on celluloid per se. I am sure there are other types of cameras and devices that can be used that will guarantee better picture quality and sound. I don’t think it is about shooting on celluloid because I hear that some big time directors in Hollywood are opting for something else because of the huge cost of working on celluloid. I think it is about focusing on quality. That is what we need to do. We must improve and upgrade everything we do that is connected to film production from makeup to costumes, to lights and sound. We must try and be more professional about filmmaking and taking it as a serious business. It is no longer a joke. We have come a long way and we are still going ahead and so, we had better buckle up.
Attracted to the story of Tango with me
Well, I was attracted first of all to the script. It is a beautiful story, a story about love: the test of love and faith, particularly the Christian faith. I like the character. It is strong. It is what I call an actor’s movie. I just thought it was a good character for me and it was challenging enough and that was what I liked most about the script. That is the first thing that attracts me to any job.
Appearance in few movies
Yes, it is deliberate. Don’t worry; I get offers to be part in a lot of movies, but I think I have come and have got to the point, where I have to be careful of what I do. I am done shooting film just to be out there — just to have people watch me. Now, I have got to the point, where I have to shoot movies just for me. I have to enjoy what I am doing. I have to enjoy the story and I have to like the script, because that is my only reward. It is not all about the money, but the reward for me comes when I am in a good movie where I enjoy what I am doing. That is where I derive pleasure. But if I am unhappy with the script and the production in general, then I am unhappy with everything, and I will definitely not watch that particular movie of mine. By now, I would have done over 100, like may be 120 movies, but definitely not up to 200. Maybe I would have got to that number if I hadn’t started being picky about what I do and watching what I do. The fact that I am being more watchful has kept the number less than the 150 you projected.
Me and Oprah Winfrey
It was a huge honour, I was extremely humbled, I feel great and proud of myself that I was able to achieve that much. I am grateful to her and to all my fans that obviously made it possible for me to get this far, and to be recognised by the talk show diva herself. So, it is an experience, I will never forget and I am sure a lot of people won’t.
Tango with me will do well
I hope it does well. It is a good story. We have tried to shoot it the best way possible. I guess it is a story a lot of people would be able to identify with. The situation of rape in any society is something we need to really look into because a lot of women, who have passed through it hadly come out to speak about it and you can’t blame them. It is not something that people believe easily. I think everywoman has a right to say no, and you can’t play deaf and dumb at that time as a man because rape is rape. But it is a grave issue because at that point in time, you have taken away, a level of freedom and a level of innocence and dignity from a person, and it is not something you want to have on your conscience. I am glad that this is the topic we are dealing with in this film and I am happy to be a part of it.
Around and about Nollywood...
Entries open for Zuma Film Festival 2010
All is now set for the staging of the 5th edition of the biennial ZUMA Film Festival organised by the Nigerian Film Corporation, scheduled to take place in Abuja from May 2 – 6 2010. Call for entries opens on December 1 and closes February 28, 2010. The theme for the 2010 edition is Global Images Global Voices, which according to the organisers seek to consolidate on the gains of previous editions. Emphasis will be on bridging existing gaps between developed and developing film cultures as universal themes and global best practices will be adopted. Release from the Corporation indicates that preparations are already in top gear to ensure the success of the festival, which has begun to call for entry. The release further added that all (entries) films, which should be accompanied with a two (2) minute trailer must be submitted in three copies and must be on the DVD format with the typed synopsis on A4 paper-size. Submissions, organisers said, will be accepted in the Competitive and Non-Competitive categories. The Competitive category includes: Feature film, Documentary, Children film, Student film, Animation/cartoon, Short film and Emerging talents while the Non-Competitive category are films on Nigerian Panorama, Universal films, the Diaspora and African films, Retrospectives /Tributes. Interested participants can make enquiries by e-mail to email@example.com. Similarly, entry forms can be obtained and returned to any of the Corporations offices in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Jos.
Still, call for entries for AMAA 2010
The Africa Film Academy invites filmmakers to submit their Feature, Short, and Documentary works for consideration by the 6th AMAA, the Premier Africa film Awards. Each completed entry form must be accompanied by all the supporting materials listed on the submission forms, including the synopsis of the film, the list of credits, marketing stills, filmographies of the directors and producers, 10 DVD copies of the film and proof of the right to submit. Only films produced and released between December 2008 and December 2009 would be entered for the 2009 celebration of African Cinema to be held in 2010. All films must indicate year of copyright. The Africa Film Academy will not accept any film that exceeds the 120 min run as a feature or a short film that is longer than 50 minutes. The Academy awards two major categories of short films and animation. This year the Academy announces a category for the Best Africa Film in the Diaspora and the Best Diaspora Short Film Awards. The deadline for all submissions is December 30, 2009; a late entry deadline is January 7, 2010. Nominations will be announced in Ghana in February 2010. AMAA will hold on April 10, 2010, and will be televised across the world. For further information, contact AMAA at email firstname.lastname@example.org
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities
Ebi Sam appears
The actor and that Saint Obi-look alike Ebi Sam showed up on the grounds of White House, venue of the 2009 edition of the Nollywood Personality Award (NOPA) 2009. The lanky actor, whom we earlier commissioned a search on, showed up in a blue suit feeling uncomfortable at the kind of attention his appearance elicited. Anyway, what happened was that all those who could not tell the difference between Ebi and our very dear own Saint Obi swarmed on him to take photos with him. One lady even wanted him to sign autograph for her. But it was as if they discovered that he was not Saint Obi, so, every other person who had not been fooled, stayed back. And in no time, our guy heeled out of the red carpet area. The last person we asked after him hinted that they saw him trekking along Allen Avenue. Our guy was on his way home. One waka pass said he had to …. Hear him: ‘I mean you can be Saint Obi for a moment; not all the time’.
Prince Ifeanyi Dike’s after-award party
The embattled ‘life’ Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Prince Ifeanyi Dike was one of the top Nollywood personalities that arrived early for the NOPA event (He strolled in at 6.30pm for an event that started at 4 pm!!!). But the Prince who is a Prince in real life stepped out as soon as his presence was recognised by the master of ceremonies. Waka pass almost concluded that the Prince had heeled home, but when waka pass looked everywhere in the hall and didn’t see two of Prince Dike’s comrade in arms —Ifeanyi Ikpoenyi and Andy Chukwu, he put two and three together to conclude that the Prince was off to something grand outside the hall. And true to prediction, the Prince was having a princely party downstairs with his comrades in arm. They formed a hot shoe around the bonnet of a car and placed a large bottle with a coloured content on it. We are still trying to get the name of what Prince and his men were sipping that evening. If we do, we will not fail to tell you. But hold on to this: we hear the substance in the bottle is called ‘Ogbunigwe’ and that you are ‘guaranteed to see double if you dare to take a full glass of it’. Do we still need to get the name again?
Who is afraid of Chiege Alisigwe
Enugu based popular Nollywood actress Chiege Alisigwe puts up a surprise appearance at the NOPA award. To show that he has caught another big fish, NOPA’s President, Stanley Okoronkwo, personally led the tall and dashing Chiege to the high table, where Madu Chikwendu, Zik Zulu Okafor, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Dr. Walter Ofonagoro and Mr. Peter Igho were already seated. But just as Chiege was making her way to the only vacant seat on that choice table, she froze at a point, according to one waka pass and caused all eyes to feast on her imposing frame. What happened to her? We asked the waka pass. ‘The rope used for decoration of the hall magnet-ted (sic) her wig and she struggled to wriggle her wig off the rope’. Oh well, we were later told that it took the personal effort of Madu C. Chikwendu for Chiege’s wig to be freed.