BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
THE filmmaker Kunle Afolayan left Lagos for the Netherlands on Wednesday to attend the yearly Rotterdam International Film Festival. At the fiesta, reputed to be one of the major film festivals in Europe, he will show his wave making The Figurine. Thereafter, he will go to Germany to be part of the Berlin International Film Festival, which opens on February 9. Afolayan, alongside Oliver Hermanus of South Africa and Caroline Kamya of Ugandan will be sitting on a panel to discuss the state of African Cinema. Dorothy Wenner will moderate the session. From Berlin, Afolayan will head to Washington DC in the United States for a command showing of the film at the Smithsonian National Museum of Arts in Washington. He spoke to Moviedom before he left…
So where are you headed to right now?
I am off to The Netherlands for the Rotterdam Film Festival to screen The Figurine. From there, I will head to Germany for the Berlin International Film Festival and then to London. From London, I will go to America, back to London and so on. In short, I will be away until March, if not April.
Tell us about the invitation to the United States?
It is from the Smithsonian National Museum of Arts in Washington, came through the curator of the museum. I think they saw the trailer somewhere and were convinced that it would be a good film to see. So, the film as I am told, would be shown to a select audience. Afterwards, I’m expected to give a talk on African film industry. I will also be at the African Film Festival in New York for a premiere of the film. I am happy that the New York premiere is a reality because after the London premiere, which witnessed a huge turnout of people, I got a deluge of mails and phone calls from America, that I must bring the movie there. As far as I’m concerned, The Figurine has made it purely on its merit. I mean take Rotterdam for example; the entries had even closed before they called me. They want the film at all costs and they are excited to see it.
How much support is coming from government?
Government? Abeg make we talk another matter. I have written letters and I all I get is ‘you have produced a quality film…keep the flag flying’. Is that what will take me around? Don’t you know how much it costs going round to promote works? Look, all efforts to get the government to see what I’m doing as part of its rebranding campaign has not succeeded. For many years, Nigerian films were not invited to foreign film festivals, but today everything has changed. I can name one or two films that have been so invited. Here is a product that is in high demand here and there and someone wants me to write loads of letters before he accedes to my request for support. When I go abroad, they introduce me as Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan and not just a filmmaker. All I get arepromises and no fulfillment of the promises. At the Abuja premiere of the film, the Minister for Information and Communication, Prof Dora Akunyili, pledged government’s support for the film’s international screenings. But I still dey wait for the actualisation of madam’s promises.
So when are you expected back?
I will be back in March, all things being equal. And when I return, I will hit location to direct a romantic comedy for a telecommunication company. We are still going to take The Figurine around. I found out that quite a number of people have not seen the film. So we are going to do the Easter run at the National Theatre and at major cinemas across the country. I took the film around during the Yuletide and it was well received. In fact, at the Silverbird Cinemas, it had a turnover of N15 million, an unprecedented sum for any Nigerian film at the cinema. So, we will return to the cinemas during the Valentine commemoration and during Easter. I think, as I have often said, the challenge is to stay creative and make good films. It is not getting into my head yet. With all the success Irapada achieved, it didn’t get into my head.
So, when will The Figurine be on VCD?
Ah, not now o. We need to recoup our investments. But seriously, we will do that soon. There is a collection of academic essays on The Figurine being written by some professors in Nigeria and abroad. Maybe when it is done, we will release the DVD along with the collection.
Around and about Nollywood...
NFC gets Babylon officials nod
THE Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) has been commended for its readiness to host the second and final stages of the 2010 Babylon International Workshop Initiative on Film. The project is organised by the NFC in collaboration with Scripthouse, Scenario films, Playfilm, Media International and the British Council. It is scheduled to hold from April 27 to May 2 in Jos and Abuja. Representatives of the international partners, Jurgen Seidler (Scripthouse) and Nathalie Valentin (Playfilm), made the commendation after a two-day (January 17 and 18) facility tour of the NFC, and the National Film Institute (NFI). The two officials, in a post facility tour, said they were impressed with the state of art equipments; 16mm and 35mm cine cameras, lights, the Sound stage complex, the editing suites, the processing laboratory, the new digital celluloid printer, the 350seat terrace auditorium, the facade, and other facilities at the NFC and NFI, which they judged met the requirements for the workshop initiative. According to the officials, foreign participants are eager to work with filmmakers from Nigeria. Managing Director of NFC, Afolabi Adesanya, informed the international partners that Nigeria filmmakers would continue to leverage on platforms that would promote cross-continental exchange of experiences in motion picture production through strategic partnerships and collaborations. He added, NFC would continue to provide opportunities and offer assistance to Nigerian filmmakers in its quest to sustainably develop the motion picture industry. The first leg of the script workshop, which has the British Council Berlin office, as the venue holds from February 16 to 20.
... As four Nigerian filmmakers make the shortlist
FOUR Nigerians are among the 60 filmmakers participating in the workshop. They are Didi Cheeka (Red Light District), Chike Ibekwe (Letter to the Prof), Siberia Diete-Spiff (The Land) and Jide Bello (My Brothers Sin). The Berlin workshop will feature plenary sessions and informal film screenings of past productions of participants for the purpose of familiarisation. However, participants will be required to provide a synopsis/treatment for their entries under the general principle of the workshop, which also includes screenplay analysis in groups and individual sessions for each project with consultants of the workshop. The five-day production lab will consolidate script development of each project and provide filmmaking teams opportunity to watch scenes from their films, or produce promotional short films based on their feature film materials. Highpoint of the 2010 programme will be the presentation of projects and review of promotional materials at Zuma Film Festival holding in Abuja, from May 2 to 6 to be followed by onward mentoring and promoting all Babylon projects. Nigerian and other African filmmakers, during the various stages of the workshop, will have opportunity to work with European colleagues on script and story development, production techniques and broadened access to international materials placed through Babylon’s network of industry consultants, funder, international sales agents and distributors.
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities
Emeka Ossai’s slimming style
HONESTLY, we don’t need any waka pass to tell us anything about the actor Emeka Ossai. At least we now know the magic behind his weight reduction formula. We were almost on the verge of combing everywhere to know, which gym he frequented, before we got a tip off from one waka pass on the formula the actor has been using to shed weight. The waka pass told us not to bother searching for the actor in any gym, but simply go to the University of Lagos where would find the well-built actor, sweating himself out. We heeded the waka pass gossip-induced advice and lo and lo, we ran into a truly sweating Emeka negotiating the bend around education area with two men struggling to catch up. Ossai didn’t see us, but incase he denies, remind him that on this Saturday, he was trying to convince his jogging mates that there was an ‘issue’ in President Umaru Yar’ Adua continued stay in Saudi Arabia.
Andy Best likes French fries and chicken
POPULAR movie marketer and producer, Chief Andy Nnadi aka Andy Best, likes to enjoy life at full crush. Although the busy marketer, whose other alias is Akudinawa, once confided in a waka pass that he doesn’t like eating in between meals, especially after ‘guzzling’ a meal of Akpu and Nsala soup prepared by his wife, Akudinanwa stormed a popular eatery in Surulere and ordered for something that an interloping waka pass considered more than an ‘in-between meals’. We were not sure now, what was packaged for him, but if he waited for 20 minutes before the order came, then it should be French fries and chicken. Anyway, Akudinawa drove off in his American spec Mercedes coupe with the plate number — Akudinawa. See what a waka pass said as his car taxied off: ‘so dis marketers like good things like actors. Me I think say na Akpu or fried rice bros Andy go order. True the man surprise me?’
Talking about Andy
I HOPE Andy Chukwu (aka Five in one) is not planning to relocate to the east by road. The way the actor, producer, director, scriptwriter and singer (a reason they call him five in one) has been frequenting the Maza Maza/Festac First Gate bus terminal in Lagos has been giving some of his fans serious cause for concern. Someone said he ran into the hardworking director one ‘early mo, mo’ (early in the morning) and it was certain the singer didn’t get a good deal considering the looks on his face. Anyway bros Andy, here is what a waka pass adviced: that you should travel by rail to Kaduna and then from Kaduna you can connect to Enugu direct! And then we asked, which is a better deal: Enugu by road or Enugu by rail? To God be the Glory!
And we lost Matt Imerion
AS we were going to press, the death of one of Nigeria’s finest actors, Matt Imerion, was announced. Imerion, a contemporary of Jimi Solanke, played Dr. Bero in the command performance of Wole Soyinka’s Madmen and Specialist. In one of the early messages received after his death was announced, the poet Kole Ade-Odutola said he saw ‘Brother Matt Imerion in action’ as a freelance actor at the old Bendel Television in the 80s. ‘He worked with Churchil Ifode, Bankole Olayebi and Margeret Natufe.’ Odutola asked God to grant his creative spirit, rest.