Saturday, 13 March 2010

...On Jungle Ride

STARTING from this weekend, Jungle Ride, Lilian Uchenna Amah-Aluko’s new film on unemployment among youths, will be screened at major cinemas across the country. She hinted at a special premiere of the movie about three Sundays ago that it would also make some festival rounds before finally hitting homes on DVD. The Ojoto, Anambra State-born actress speaks to Moviedom about the film and her future plans.

Culmination of a dream: Jungle Ride is culmination of a dream, which started about five years ago. Ajua Dickson and I had numerous discussions, back then, about our dreams for the industry and desire to produce movies that would make a difference. To this end, she brought a script, Jungle Ride, written by Segun Michaels. It was a beautifully written treatise about virile jobless people.

Making it work : In realising this project, we had to call in a lot of favours. We are very grateful to everyone, who contributed in bringing this project to life — the cast and crew, my parents, my husband, family members, friends, Michaels, whom I am sure will let out many more beautiful stories to fuel our creative energies, EXP marketing agencies, Wired Entertainment and others. Their contributions to the success of the movie even with the global economic meltdown is a tribute to their determination to help the Nigerian youth and also movie industry.

Why are you the absent from the screen: I hadn’t much time until September 2005 because I was working full time in the bank. But outside Out of Bounds, Hit and Run and others such as She Devil and Rough Edges, I have done only a few works in recent time. I did Mnet’s Doctors quarters a while back. I am in Jimi Odumosu’s The Head of State, which just started airing. Tunji Bamishigbin’s Valley Between and Oliver Aleoghena’s Husbands and Wives have still not been released. I also did Okey Ogunjiofor’s Cyberia, which I think is still running on Africa Magic and a few others I can’t readily remember. But Out of Bounds will remain my most memorable, because it was my first.

Why I quit banking: I quit banking because entertainment is what I enjoy doing. My incursion into banking was as a result of my desire to prove that I could hold down a serious job. I did that successfully for about 10 years then decided it was time to do what I enjoy most. But I have no regret quitting banking at all.

Pains and gains of being a celebrity: Well, I don’t have any pains as such because I really don’t consider myself as one. The only downside of that to me is the loss of privacy and the gain is the ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

Marriage and Moviedom : My marriage had nothing to do with whether I was running away from being talked about in the press. On the contrary, I didn’t even marry early. Even while I was single, I tried to conduct myself properly. My parents are very important to me and I know they value their good name. It would break their heart if I ruined that name. I also have my husband’s name to protect. He is also an artist and appreciates my job. I only go to places where I have business and don’t indulge in unnecessary talk or frivolous action.
As for whether people get harassed before they are given roles; oh well, it has never happened to me. I hear it happens and I feel people should believe in themselves. Don’t be too desperate for anything. Do your best and let the Almighty handle the rest.

Regrets? No regrets at all. If I had to live this life again, I would still choose the same path with a few minor changes. Also, I can’t choose between writing and acting. Both of them feed different parts of my soul.

Around and about Nollywood...

AMAA 2010: Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi top nomination list
TWO of Nigeria’s leading actresses, Stephanie Okereke and Bimbo Akintola, are in for the coveted top prize of best actress in a leading role at this year’s UBA/AMAA award. Okereke and Akintola have the trio of Jackie Appiah, Lydia Farson and Naa Ashoku Mensa-Doku (Perfect Picture) and then Flora Suya (Season of a life) and Akofa Edjeani Asiedu (I sing of a well). Meanwhile Kunle Afolayan’s Figurine and Izu Chukwu’s Nnenda were among 30 films that made the nominations from over 280 entries received across Africa. Chairman of College of Screeners, announced the nominees on Saturday March 6, in Accra, Ghana. For Nigeria, Okereke, Akintola and their Ghanaian counterparts Appiah, Farson and Mensa-Doku are top nominees for the Best Actress category for their role in Nnenda, Freedom in Chains and The Perfect Picture. In the best actor category, Ramseh Nouah, Lucky Ejim, Majid Michael, Odera Ozoka and John Osie Tutu for their roles in The Tenant, Sin of a Soul, The Figurine, Soul Diaspora and I sing of a well. In the same vein, Afolayan, Shemu Joyah, Shirley Frimpong- Manso, Leila Jewel Djansi, Jude Idada and Ejim will slug it out for the Best Director category. Speaking at the event, Peace Anyiam Osigwe explained the symbolism in hosting the event in Ghana on the eve of the country’s 53rd Independence Anniversary, adding that with the awards, Kwame Nkurumah’s quest for oneness of Africa through his Pan-African ideology is being realized. The Ghanaian government’s delegation to the event was led by the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mrs Hannah Tetteh, who said the creative industry in Ghana is evolving while calling Africa governments not to neglect the sector. Bayelsa State’s Commissioner for Special Duties and the State Director General for Tourism, Mr. Nathan Egba led the state’s delegation while Mr. Seun Soyinka and some senior staff of the United Bank for Africa Ghana represented the bank. Eminent artistes and celebrities at the event include Delta State Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Mr. Richard Mofe-Damijo; Rita Dominic; Segun Arinze; Osita Iheme; Paul Obazele; Ejike Asiegbu; Dickson Iroegbu; Kunle Afolayan; Steve Ayorinde; Muma Gee; and J Martins among others.

Benson’s High Blood Pressure in local cinemas
THINGS are beginning to look good for Nigerian movie artistes. They now have an opportunity to air their works in major cinemas in the country, contrary to the widely held view that offerings of the industry are not good enough to attract such offers. From Stephanie Okereke’s Through the Glass to Emem Isong’s Guilty Pleasure and much later Kunle Afolayan’s The Figurine, the cinemas are opening up to filmmakers, who have somewhat upped their game. While the industry awaits the cinema airing of Lilian Amah-Aluko’s Jungle Ride after an impressive premiere at the Silverbird Galleria last Sunday, one of the most sought after creative minds in the industry, Teco Benson, is set to air his latest movie, High Blood Pressure, in major cinemas across Lagos. Benson is working alongside his executive producer/financier, John Okonkwo, of GoodLife Production to have as many film buffs as possible see the film across the country. According to Benson, the film, which features Kanayo O. Kanayo, Clarion Chukwura, Lilian Bach, Yemi Blaq, Jibola Daboh, Jim Roach and several others, will be seen by movie buffs at upscale cinemas, such as Silverbird, Genesis Deluxe, Ozone in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and in other state capitals.

Celebrities, Lagos State endorse Walk Against Rape
THE much awaited Celebrity Walk Against Rape has finally got the nod of Lagos State’s Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Joke Adefulire, who pledged her full support for the event. Various celebrities such as Abike Dabiri, Kenny Ogungbe, Dayo Adeneye, Ara, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Fela Durotoye, Stella Monye, Bolaji Rosiji, Titi Adelagun, Tara Fela-Durotoye, Tosin Bucknor, Ashionye, Ego, Steve Yaw Onu, Timi Dakolo, Ofunneka Molokwu, Funke Akindele and Toni Payne and others have also showed great interest to participate in the walk. The walk is a special demonstration that will bring together Nigerian actors, actresses, sport men, media practitioners, musicians, comedians and showbiz personalities together to lend a voice to sexually abused women in the society, particularly young girls between the ages of 3 - 18 years. The campaign is also strategically aimed at helping the women folks fight against rape and sexual violence. According to the Project Coordinator, Esther Ijewere, “Our aim is to encourage victims to speak out and reduce the stigmatization attached to the victims of sexual abuse as well as use “Walk Against Rape” as a platform to inform the society about the soaring scourge of sexual abuse especially as it relates to young girls and women”. Packaged by Rubies Ink and Acada Magazine, the walk will start by 7am on Friday, April 16, at the Police College, Ikeja (the point of convergence) and end at the Ministry Of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Secretariat, Alausa – Ikeja (point of departure) where a speech, Rape: its effects, consequences and the role of Government, will be delivered by Esther Ijewere.

Waka pass…
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities

Dickson Iroegbu battles Fatai Rolling Dollars
THERE was a time he locked his hair, I think in protest over the state of affairs in the movie industry. Later, he shaved it, when he realised he had to wear the locks till thy kingdom comes because people were not willing to make things happen soon. Oh well, movie director and producer, Dickson Iroegbu has dared into a trademark reserved only for the legendary and 80-something-year old highlife musician Fatai Rolling Dollar: that is wearing dark shades even at night. It was nomination compere and President (yes oooo, Presido) of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Segun Arinze, that called our attention to this at the AMAA nomination event in Ghana. Arinze actually recognised the presence of Dickson’s dark shades at an indoor event. No one told oga Dickson to take off the shades and he remained without it until he returned to naija.

Memuna Yahaya heads to Idah
BY the time you would be reading this, popular actress Memuna Yahaya (nee Abaji) would have touched base with her people in Idah, Kogi State, as she commences the process of getting her pet project, a film on the legendary Inikpi off the ground. Before she left, the actress of After the Storm fame hinted that she was going to visit the stature of the legendary princess Inikpi, who gave up her life for the liberation of the Igala people. There is something that Memuna mentioned before she left: that people still drop monies at the Inikpi statue in Idah and you know what came to mind — that since sponsors are difficult to come by, may be Auntie Memuna should seek the permission of the local authorities to gather all the monies there as seed money for the film project! no, be laffin mata ….. na advice and as they say in my place, advice no be curse.

Akume Akume is a dancer
WHO said Akume Akume is just a filmmaker? Oh, well waka pass can authoritatively confirm that Nigeria’s Akume is also a confirmed dancer. For the fact that he has an already confirmed ticket and didn’t have prior plans to relocate, waka pass was sure that most Ghanaians, who were at the after nomination party organised as part of AMAA event held in Ghana last Saturday, would have asked Akume to stay back in Accra and show them more of those dance steps. True, we are not making this up: Akume swaggered and gingered. Ordinarily nylon shirts are not supposed to hold back sweat, but the yellow nylon shirt he wore that evening held back sweat as a proof of the Akumetious steps exhibited that evening. One waka pass said: ‘e be like say Madam Peace (AMAA CEO) go consider including award for dancing in the nomination list’.

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