BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
OPULAR actress, Memuna Yahaya nee Abaji, who played Emotan in the long rested television soap, After the Storm, is ready to realise her long held dream of contributing to the socio-cultural development of her state, Kogi. The star of Spider, a television soap, is the head of a team that is brewing an epic film titled Inikpi, which is poised to re-define epic productions in Nollywood. Memuna, who is mentoring a large population of young girls in Kogi State, hints during the week that work on the story and screenplay, is at an advanced stage. She speaks to Moviedom on the film and her long absence from the scene…
Where have you been?
I have been making babies in my husband house. But I am fine and back on track. In the last two months, I have been in Abeokuta, Ogun State recording Living in Lagos. I am taking part in the production. Also, I recently starred in a language movie, Omayeiku. It is a brilliant movie in Igala, my dialect. I liked it because it challenged me. I was privileged to be part of it. Thompson Junior, who produced, is a younger person, so, when he invited me to do the job, I saw it as one way of encouraging him. I enjoyed every bit of the time I spent on set. And ever since, I have been planning to do my own production. Of course, it is going to be in my language — Igala. But it is going to be something legendary and historic. I am working on an historical event, something that people from my area can relate to.
Why don’t we have too many Igala ladies on the scene?
I think the problem has been that of fear. It is not that we can’t do it or that we don’t have the talent. Probably because didn’t give it a thought. Overtime, we talked about getting together to project our culture and heritage, but we didn’t take it off the idea stage. So, that is it. Another thing is sponsorship. It is most times difficult to get people to invest in movies that appeal to a particular geographical expression. But as it is, we are putting money together and we are determined to do something and produce works that will project our people as well as their moral and historical values. Right now, there are still a few of us that are in the business. May be because of our culture and may be because of the way the profession was perceived in the past. But there is a greater awareness now and people are now coming to accept the business as simply make-believe. I mean if you are playing a role, you are merely interpreting a character and it has nothing to do with your person really. Again, one is careful not to do jobs that will give us a bad name or bad image back home. You cannot find us doing jobs that will demand our exposing our bodies and what have you. At least, we are getting there. I mean Jumai Joseph is there and producing some films, there is another girl called Hauwa who has produced two movies. They all challenge me because they all came right behind me. So, I am now trying to get all of us together to do some work that will project our culture and values and to do something that will affect the whole world.
The story of Inikpi is what I am working on
I am thinking of putting the story of Inikpi up for people to see. That story is a good story. It is a story of sacrifice. I have been researching on it in the last five months and have been talking to people who have done some academic work on it and I am hoping to get them to sit down and put down a world class story that we can produce and show the world. And by the way, the story of Inikpi is the story of the legendary princess who offered herself for sacrifice to save her people. The story is gripping and relevant.
Emotan in After the Storm
I like to do more television production than home video because with television, you return to look at every episode to see what you are doing so that you can reflect on your performance. It gives me room to appraise and improve on myself the following week. So, I prefer to do television but again there is no so much money in television like in the movies so may be with time we shall consider doing more movie productions than television.
Marriage and moviedom
It has not been particularly very easy. All I have been doing is to create time for everybody and everyone in my life and time for myself. I love to do the job and so what I do is, I take a job, and then I give myself a break — an holiday —I spend that time with my family and then if I am working, and it is weekend, I bring my family on set and we stay in the next room or in the next hotel while I work. That has been the secret.
Around and about Nollywood...
Wenner is Head, AMAA 2010 jury, Ghana to host nomination party
THE organisers of African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) have received over 280 entries across Africa for the event that holds in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on April 10. Similarly, International Film Programmer and former Head of the Berlinale Talent Campus, Dorothee Wenner, has been named as President of the 2010 jury. Wenner, with a strong interest in the development of African Cinema, is expected to chair an 11-man jury that will decide winners of the about 25 categories. Meanwhile chairman of the awards’ College of Screeners, Mr. Shaibu Hussein, has announced that over 500 films were entered for this year’s event. The film journalist and critic with The Guardian also stated that for over 45 days, screeners were in camp to screen the entries, which he puts at about 500 adding that only 280 of the total entries met requirement. Shaibu also revealed that films from the Yoruba segment of the Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood, would have led the pack in terms of number of entries from the country, but some of them were disqualified for flouting the entry rules. “We made it clear that any film that is more than two hours would not be considered at all. We also stated that films submitted for awards should have no advertisement but in most of the Yoruba films, you would see 10-15 minutes adverts of herbal medicines and all what not. But the truth is that some Yoruba films also complied with the rules. Other filmmakers submitted their market copies. At the end, only 280 made our entry criteria,” he explained. Entertainment journalists such as Victor Akande (The Nation), Azu Amatus (The Sun), Atim Ikpeme (Champion) and Darlington Abuda and some others previewed the films before handing over their recommendations to the College comprising representatives from African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon etc.
From AMP, a vote of confidence for Fashola
THE national leadership of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), led by popular actor and filmmaker, Mr. Paul Obazele, has assured the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, of the support of filmmakers, particularly producers, in the effort to make the state a truly mega-city. Obazele gave this assurance when a team from the association paid a courtesy call on the governor in his Alausa office, Ikeja, recently. In his welcome address, Fashola commended the AMP executives for coming to rub minds with him on how to further move Lagos forward through didactic films and entertainment oriented projects. He also thanked them for deeming it fit to honour him with the special award, promising to soon embark on talks with investors on how to move the film industry forward. Fashola also told the team that his government, which is masses driven, is already planning of setting up a world-class film village, adding that his administration is entertainment friendly. The Governor, who commended the association for coming up with the yearly AMP/Eko International Film Festival, also endorsed the laudable initiative and promised to add the next edition, which holds between November 22 and 26, 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. While responding, a visibly elated Obazele, who was accompanied on the trip by some of his executives and notable filmmakers and actors, thanked Fashola for the warm reception, promising that they would put into practice all that the Governor pointed out. He also commended the Governor for endorsing the AMP/Eko Film Festival and for accepting to include the festival, which had its maiden outing last year at the National Theatre. Other executives who accompanied the AMP President on the visit include Lilian Amah-Aluko, Vice President, AMP, Franklin Okoro, General Secretary, Mike Nliam, Financial Secretary, top actors: Zack Orji and Fred Amata, among others.
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities
Has Saint Obi joined US Army?
WONDER if popular Nollywood actor Obinna Nwafor aka Saint Obi has joined the United States Army with the way he appeared in all khaki attire at last Sunday’s premiere of Lilian Amah-Aluko’s Jungle Ride. The film was co-produced by Ajua Dickson. The well built actor appeared in a military hat, on a faded camouflage up and down and a brown canvass just when the quality crowd that the premiere attracted had emptied the bar and moved in to catch a glimpse of the action that made the film thick. Trust the star of Felony (his earliest movie run) and Take Me to Mama to always be on his toes. The actor bounced into the waiting hands of the elated Lilian, who was the evening chief host. Within seconds, he was exchanging banters with some journalists, and just when someone wanted to spell out Obinna, his name at birth, the University of Jos theatre arts graduate had already taken his seat in the filled hall for the premiere. One waka pass said it might be the way he was dressed that was why Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey, who anchored the show, did not recognise him. You know because, they introduced a number of military men at the event, the tendency is for those foot-legging for Keppy to believe that the people’s Saint was there as a body guard! Abeg, not to us talk am ooo.
And they all came out with their wives
WHOEVER is president of the unofficial Association of Wives of Movie Practitioners must take a deserved bow. Honestly, she is doing a yo-man job considering the way wives of popular celebrities have been accompanying their hubby’s to events. One waka pass thinks that Madam Lilian knows the president or that someone reached out to her for there to be a massive turn out of husband and wives at the premiere. The roll call: Fidelis and Mrs Tope Duker, Keppy and wife, Stephen and Pat Oghre Osezua, Paul and wife (someone said it was the first time Paul was carrying…no sorry taking madam out) and guess who, Victor Okhai and his lovely wife. The bearded actor Zack Orji, for the first time, attended a Nollywood event without Ngozi, his wife. May be that was why Keppy picked him out to come and offer the opening prayer. Zack did a good job of it but it showed from the looks on his face that he was missing his adorable wife. One waka pass asked why we did not include the director of the movie Kingsley Omoefe on our roll call. True, we saw the junior Sir Kay walk into the event with a fair skinned lady, but we could not ask if she was Madam because first he didn’t ‘wash am for us’ and secondly in this jungle that is called moviedom, junior Sir Kay especially since he is a prolific directors has a right to audition actors as long as the jobs keep rolling in! But we no know book oooo! To God be the Glory!