:: Cover Story...

Friday, November 8, 2013.

'Nollywood Is The New Name For Bad Films' - Publisher, Biodun Kupoluyi 

Publisher of all about entertainment publication, E24-7 writes about the Nigerian movie industry, bringing the correlation of the past and the present into contrasting perspective.

The experienced industry follower originally published this reproduced piece in magazine.

'Like George Elliot, the English novelist wrote: “Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult”. I thought as historians and sadly, journalists that we are, ethnicity will not guide our views and submissions on an issue as salient as this, a matter that not only oral tradition supports but have living witnesses with loads of archival materials that lend credence to the works of these pioneers in filmmaking and whose efforts have helped to grow the industry that has now become an all-comers affairs, writes BIODUN KUPOLUYI

Biodun Kupoluyi

Why Nollywood? Celebrating what at 20? Nollywood? That is a word used to describe mediocrity, incompetence, total disconnect from history, culture and lack of knowledge and skill to make a good film. Nollywood is the new name for bad films. The culture of shooting on optical, reversal and even video started long before Living In Bondage. Facts and checks revealed the first video film was shot by the late Prince Muyideen Alade Aromire in Ishinigbo town, near Akure precisely at Akure North Local Government in Ondo state in October 1988. The launching and public viewing of films started at the National Theatre in November 1988. The screens showed more Yoruba films than ever.

Commendable too is the involvement of Kenneth Nnebue who was running a video rental club, NEK Video then. He saw the future and supported Aromire to shoot Ekun and just as he did to the success of the phenomenal home video, LIving In Bondage. That did not make him a pioneer; neither should the period be documented as the first attempt at video shoot or filmmaking in Nigeria.

'The industry is gaining moment today due to the efforts of some people, the founders who were led by passion and not commercial crass. They have helped to grow the industry that has now become an all-comers affair. Why subject such heroic deeds in our history to distortions? Why ethnic colouration? It is pertinent for us to know that ethnicity is created and developed by politicians to suit their whims and caprices.

Anybody can shoot a film in any language but the fact remains that the language of film is picture. How well have we made our pictures to speak for us or tell our stories?

That the industry is gaining momentum and relative recognition today is a collective effort. Fact is, Kunle Afolayan's foray into the international film circuit was not because he is a Yoruba filmmaker, and he got the support of an Igbo lady, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe after he won the AAMA's prize to be at the Berlinale. It was his open sesame to greater strides.

'That day in far-flung Berlin, it was a glorious moment for Nigeria as he joined other filmmakers to talk to a variety of audience in a capacity-filled hall on how he was able to source fund and shoot his films. That moment all the Black men in the bowel of the hall felt proud and it was a glorious hour for Nigeria. He flew Nigeria's flag in Japan some months ago and he is currently in Birmingham, United Kingdom for the International Film Festival.

Commendable too is his mentor, Tunde Kelani, he has been in international film circuit as a participant, either as a speaker on African films or his films are listed for screenings and exhibitions from Jo'burg, to London, Canada to New York. Enviable too is Kelani and Afolayan's relevance and recognition by the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, on the administration's Nollywood Upgrade's project in conjunction with the Harvard's scholars.  

'The project took them to India for a case study. Recently, Kelani was in the Jury at the Dubai International Film Festivals Three years ago, at Del-York-organised Ben-Vido programme to introduce Nollywood to Brazil and the Carribbeans, his films were not only screened, there was a retrospective on his works .

Like aprophet without honour in his home, the Brazillian film authority  chose to archive his works for posterity. That historic visit was many years after foremost filmmker Ola Balogun was in the Samba country. For the record too was his knowledge transfer to Haiti on the invitation of the country's film industry and the Jack Main Film Institute.  

'Kudos too to Jeta Amata for his Black November, a huge budget movie. It shows the future is bright and promise that the American market is waiting. Commendable too is Biyi Bandele"s effort in Chimanmanda Adiche's Half of A Yellow Sun, another good example of a product with the collective efforts of Nigerians irrespective of tribe and tongue.

To those who for reasons best known to them and want to remove facts and turn to fiction in our history, I say to them that they can change their skies, they cannot change our souls. My prayer is that they will achieve their aims and that is futility.

'Futility is working against TRUTH, and GOD is against it. It is injustice to ignore in history these great men- Francis Oladele, Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Ola Balogun, Ade Love, Moses Olaiya, Wole Soyinka, Eddie Ugboma, Kola Ogunmola, Wale Adenuga, Alade Aromire, etc, who these 'Nollywood rascals' don't want to respect and acknowledge. Too bad they have eyes and do not see. Film culture did not emerge with these Kpa, Kpa,Kpa Nollywood advocates, the Ogundes travelled the length and breadth of Nigeria with their films.

Yes, they were shot in Yoruba language but the fact remains that the films were successful. It was the language his people understand and as expected, his films like others entertained, educated and informed. From Ogunde's Aiye, Jaiyesimi, Aropin Tenia to Ade Love's Taxi Driver and Omo Orukan, and with the success Kelani and his protégé, Kunle Afolayan have made, it shows that they are leading light of the industry today.

The records are there and the titles, stories are not only fresh in our hearts, we regale them. Their success at every time they release their works show that the future of film in Africa is using our language as the medium, afterall, it is working for Bollywood. Some claimed Nollywood, a derisive name given to our film industry by the Western media due to our guerrilla approach brought glamour. What a spurious claim?

'Fame comes with glamour. 0gunde, Baba Sala and Ade Love, Wole Soyinka wore glamour like a toga. Like Yoruba says' Omo lole lo gba esi.' Ask your parents. They were hugely popular. I remember Baba Sala came to KS Motel, Yemetu, Ibadan during the screening of his film, Mosebolatan. He came in a Mercedes Benz and in screaming droves children including me went to touch him. We hailed him and he was very warm towards us. In my early days as a reporter, I went to the late Ade Afolayan's house in Orile Iganmu, a four or five storey building standing alone in the sky. His garage had not less than 10 cars, from Volvo, Santana to LandRover. Glamour cannot come better. Ogunde's sprawling country home in Ososa, Ogun State is still there- an architectural masterpiece. In his life, he rode on the best of cars- Mercedez Benz, Land Rover and Volvo- all of them were bought brand new. Duro Ladipo left a huge legacy. Wole Soyinka nko? Still glowing. I can go on and on.

'Where are the Nollywood's men? Men who got loans from banks and squandered. Men who got bank's facilities and turned hotels' room to their harems, sexually abusing 'innocent' girls for cheap' waka pass' roles. It is ironic that the girls have outlived them with their talents. Where are those Nollywood's sheikhs, the Mr. Prolific today? They are gone, holed up in the attics of their rooms, blacklisted by financiers and banks for misappropriation. Now they bandy about with their old film credits and staled scripts on their dusty shelves, tottering on the edge of their graves with little or no importance. Everywhere they go, their past haunts them. But they have found a new trade- ethnicity and politics of the industry- while the real professionals are committed to churning out the next movie that will go to cinemas.

While committed filmmakers attend to the business of films all over the world and chosen to be away from the politics and deafening noise from their ethnic drums, they engage in macabre dance over cheap funds dangled at them by politicians to score cheap points during campaign. Their works, they reasoned will speak for  them. To all advocates of truth and agents of change, there is a profound consolation in the Yoruba proverb,' Ti iro ba lo fun ogun odun, ojo kan ni otito ma ba,' that is, if falsehood travels for twenty years, it is one day that TRUTH will catch up with it.'' Everyman to his tent.'
NB: Some online news spotters pick and use our stories down to the dot of 'Ts' and 'Is'  without recourse to credit. We demand that this anormaly is corrected. Plagliarism is a crime.