(L-R) Friburgh Film Festival official, Isaac Izoya, Dorothee Wenner, Shaibu Husseini and Joseph Ubaka at the panel on Nollywood during the festival.
BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
He was out of town, working on the set of a Hollywood movie and also promoting a concert — the return of the Yahooze crooner Olu Maintain to Berlin. But when the Germany-based film producer showed up, three days into the Berlin International Film Festival, he proved to some members of the Nigerian delegation to the festival that his alias ‘the ambassador’ was not for decoration as it is commonly said. Izoya acclaimed to have featured, nearly all the A-list actors of the Nigerian movie Industry, from Patience Ozokwo to Mercy Johnson talked about his plans to commemorate Nigeria’s 50th anniversary on a grand scale in Germany and across Europe. He also explained why he offered his Love in Berlin for the commemoration of Black History month in Berlin.
Why Love in Berlin for Black History Month
Well, we all know that the month recognises and celebrates key individuals and achievements of black activist such as Marcus Garvey, Phillis Wheatey, James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Rosa Parks. Other being Sojourner Truth, the Black Church Black Newspapers, Martin Luther King Jr., The American Civil Rights Movement, Langston Hughes, Franz Fanon and Paul Robeson and many others. Black History Month also entertains and allows you to experience the influences of the African Diaspora through music and arts. A diverse selection of music, performance art, and visual art will offer the public a more lively and entertaining celebration. And for the first time since its commemoration here, a Nollywood movie titled Love In Berlin …the meeting point was chosen by the organisers to be screened during the festival. This, for me, is a dream come true. Call it emancipation or liberation, the key word here is love. Without love, there will be no global integration, no inter-cultural marriages between blacks and white. Love is the major force in fighting racism and hatred, which is what Love In Berlin …the meeting point is all about. If you remember Berlin conference of 125 years ago (also known as the Kongokonferenz or “Congo Conference”) that greatly influenced the fate of continental Africa and the Diaspora, you will understand why the Americans, the organisers of this year Black History Month chose to screen the movie instead of any of theirs.
You called it a premiere, but it was showing the second time?
That shows it’s a good movie with a meaningful story line. A good movie or music never fades. Look back to your youthful days, there must be one or two movies you will always like to watch repeatedly irrespective of the year it was produced. The first premiere of the film was more or less local, that is within the Africans in the Diaspora, but now, it is more international.
Are you flying any of the cast members to Berlin for this showing as you normally do?
Excluding Patience Ozokwor, Jim Iyke and Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, the other cast in the movie are based here in Germany and we don’t need the home-based stars for this event, though Jim Iyke coincidentally will be around to add colour to it.
How come you have not released the film in Nigeria, years after production?
The film has been in circulation in Nigeria since October 2009, courtesy of Sam Civic marketer. The delay in the release paid off because we are always trying to be outstanding in our productions.
After this, what’s next for Ehizoya Entertainment?
I will be featuring in a Hollywood movie titled: Unknown White Male, with Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger playing lead roles from February 9, 2010. We’ll also complete the second part of Olu Maintain (a.k.a. Yahoozee) Europe tour, which will take us across Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, France and Italy from February 20, 2010. There is also a huge project to rebrand Nigeria across Europe as part of the 50th Independence anniversary, starting from September.
There has been a lull in your hosting tours featuring top Nigerian celebrities. What’s behind this?
Ha, no! Recession or no recession, the show must go on, whether the devil likes it or not. Within the last six months, we organised two Europe tours for major celebrities. Among them were Mr and Mrs Palmer Omoruyi, Benin popular musicians; and Olu Maintain aka Yahoozee. In fact, we are waxing stronger than ever. Who’s who in Nollywood, especially the young ones have been on our tour list as the old ones in the industry can’t withstand the stress of our global tours.
Around and about Nollywood...
From AMP, a vote of confidence for Fashola
The national leadership of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), led by Mr. Paul Obazele has assured Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, of filmmakers’ support in the on-going effort to make Lagos a mega-city. Obazele gave this assurance when members of the association recently visited the governor. Similarly, the body presented the governor, who’s still basking in the euphoria of “The Sun Man of the Year Award”, with Governor of the Year plaque, courtesy of the AMP/Eko International Film Festival. In his welcome address, Fashola hailed AMP executives for coming to rub minds with him on how to further move Lagos forward through films and entertainment projects. He also thanked them for the special award, promising to soon embark on talks with investors on how to move the film industry forward. Fashola told the team that he is already planning of setting up a world-class film village in Lagos. The governor also called for unity, understanding and tolerance among the major stakeholders in the industry, noting that a divided industry would never progress. Fashola, emphasised the need for advocacy through films. He challenged filmmakers to create more awareness on climate change in their productions. The governor, who commended the association for coming up with the annual AMP/Eko International Film Festival, also endorsed the laudable initiative and promised to add the next edition, which holds between November 22 and 26, 2010, to the Lagos State Calendar of major events. He urged AMP to encourage its members to produce films that teach moral values and constantly help to elevate the citizens as well as the nation.
From A Whisper wins best Narrative Feature Award
THE Jury, Audience, Festival, and other special award-winners of the 2010 Pan African Film and Festival (PAFF) were announced today at the Festival’s Awards Ceremony hosted by CCH Pounder (Avatar) at the Culver Plaza Theatres (9919 Washington Blvd. Los Angeles). The Kenyan narrative, From A Whisper, won for Best Narrative Feature. The movie snapped a similar award at the 2009 edition of The African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) held in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State. However a three-way tie was announced for the Audience Favorite Narrative Award for films Soul Diaspora, A Sting In A Tale, and Speed-Dating. The documentary on the L.A. Black Panthers 41st and Central: The Untold Story Of The L.A. Black Panthers won the Audience Favorite Documentary Award. With the theme Get Involved, this year’s PAFF featured 135 films representing 36 countries, including 40 in competition, 64 feature length films, and 12 world premieres. The films that received Jury Awards were selected from six categories: Best Feature Documentary, Best Documentary Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Feature Narrative, and First Time Narrative Feature Directing. All films in competition were also eligible for the PAFF’s Audience Awards as selected by Festival audiences. The PAFF Board of Directors and Programmer Festival Awards were awarded to their pick for Best Documentary and Best Narrative film. A special award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles Festival Choice Award was awarded to the film From A Whisper. Written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu, From a Whisper is by far one of the most important films made in the world in this historical period. This stunning narrative revolves around a Kenyan family caught up in the bombing of the American Embassy by Islamist terrorists a few years ago. It talks about Abu, a Muslim intelligence officer who is investigating the bombing. Abu has a complex and in deep friendship with one of the terrorists. The film gives a rich insight into the complex narrative that make up our life. The Pan African Film and Arts Festival, is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival that takes place annually in Los Angeles during the month of February. For more information, check www.paff.org.
Go to the Galleria today, see Jungle Ride
Jungle Ride; the new movie Lilian Amah-Aluko and Ajua Dickson dotting on love, luck and the alarming cases of unemployment among the youths will be screened at a special premiere holding today at the Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos. Written by Segun Michaels and directed by Kingsley Omoefe; Amah, a notable actress and writer hinted that the movie will begin its runs in major cinemas across Nigeria, immediately after Sunday’s premiere. The film features reputable actors such as Bimbo Manuel, Femi Brainard, Ngozi Nwosu, Chidi Ukwu, Omoni Oboli, Emma Ayalogu and Joseph Benjamin.
Producer: Amebo A. Amebo
Director: Mr. Gossip
Actors: Nollywood Celebrities
Anyiam- Osigwe returns with good news for filmmakers
The chief executive officer of the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) Peace Anyiam-Osigwe may have returned to Nigeria after about four weeks abroad. The filmmaker and a strong advocate for a virile industry in Africa had heeled out of the country to further promote African movies. But close sources say she stopped over in Los Angeles in the course of her networking trip to receive the African Visionary award from the organisers of the California-based Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) and from the Los Angeles-based African Channel. The AMAA boss as we gathered was also in Berlin, where she addressed officials of the German government on the best way possible to partner with African filmmakers for the development of the industry on the continent and Nigeria in particular. The AMAA head reportedly asked the authorities to fund the development of the industry, but not to dictate to the filmmakers what to produce. Peace, who is working at dropping off a well packaged AMAA/UBA nomination party in Ghana on March 6 also visited Washington to speak to diverse people at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art after they watched the now touring documentary on the Nigerian movie industry titled Peace Mission. Meanwhile members of the AMAA College of Screeners have rounded up their work. Members of the college met in Lagos to arrive at films that will be sent to the international jury of the AMAA for consideration. The jury is expected to meet over the next couple of weeks to decide nominees and declare winners for the 2010 edition of AMAA. Someone said make we ask Madam Peace whether we go go to Bayelsa on April 10 with basket to carri the award? The fellow asked because he was made to understand that the lady who wrote and directed the winning film last year has a film in the competition. Over to you, movie Amazon of the Federal Republic of our country!
That Paul Obazele and company visits to Fashola
Some members of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) have murdered sleep since the day they heard that their President Paul Obazele led his executives to see Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola. In fact, they murdered ‘dream’ when they were shown one of the august pictures taken in February — where Paul engaged in a tete-a-tete with Fashola. They wondered what Paul was telling the governor at that point in time that he could not allow other people to hear. One bad belle waka pass grudgingly mentioned (but we do as if we no hear) that knowing Presido (which is what he thankfully called Obazele throughout), he may be asking the action governor for a slot as commissioner for moviedom! Oya, oga Paul, over to you. Please told dem what you were tolding oga Fashola as captured in that august picture, so that they can allow us to drink water and keep the cup, as people from your geographical expression will say! To God be the Glory