Film & Theatre

 How Ambode’s ‘Five Theatre’ project May Revive Cinema at Grassroots 

By Tajudeen Sowole  

A recent pronouncement by the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode has brought hope of returning arts, particularly, cinema going culture to Lagos' grassroots beyond the  curent state of cinemas in shopping Malls. For several decades pre and post independence, traveling theatre of the Yoruba language, which had  its roots in the old western region, spilled into Lagos territory and later generated a vibrant cinema going culture that lasterd till 1990s. 

Gov Akinwunmi Ambode and other guests during the opening of Heartbeat The Musical…A New Beginning
The Governor, who spoke at a stage play titled ‘Heartbeat The Musical…A New Beginning’read more. 

93 Days Of Proudly Nigerian Courage… A Director’s Compactness Test 

By Tajudeen Sowole
Telling a story of how the dreaded Ebola was stopped in Nigeria comes with the challenge of not leaving key factors out as well as making a compact film. But despite the challenges of selecting what key parts of the real story makes contents of 93 Days...the Ebola film, a proudly Nigerian story of courage is not missing.
  
Patrick Sawyer (Keppy Ekpeyoung) in 93 Day

In coordinating the creative contents of 93 Days, the director, Steve Gukas, seems confronted with the challenge of compactness as the film brings same sides of a coin: so much details enacted as well as certain key events left out.
  And after nearly two hours, leading to the end credits scrolling in from the bottom of the screen, inside House on the Rock, Lekki, Lagos - venue of the premiere - 93 Days leaves one wondering if the efforts of Dr Ameyo Adadevoh in the Ebola battle was exaggerated in real life.   
  Currently showing in cinemas across Nigeria, 93 Days as a straight jacket, historical film is almost spotless, even when viewed through the prism of strictest critique. But within the context of art as essence of filmmaking, irrespective of whether it's a biopic or feature doc, something seems to be missing in 93 Days
  The challenges of merging compactness and art contents in 93 Days not withstanding, the effort of Bolanle Austen Peters, Dotun Olakurin. Pemon Rami and Gukas-led production crew intercepts Nollywood mediocre, that could have rushed to film locations and  basterdised subjects of national interest under erroneous claims of making 'epic' film. For now, whoever is making another film on Ebola knows there is a standard to beat.
  As regards late Dr Adadevoh, played by Bimbo Akintola, there is no doubt that the film, in at least two or three scenes establishes her efforts in stopping Patrick Sawyer (Keppy Ekpeyoung) from leaving the First Consultant Hospital, Lagos. Also, her coordination and inspirational efforts of the entire health workers at the hospital is also well enacted. But in creating artistic contents out of these scenes, specifically, heroic strides of Adadevoh, the scenes appear too ordinary. If Gukas was avoiding melodramatising the scenes, I think he also under highlights the fulcrum role of the late doctor in the widely reported battle against Ebola. 
  Perhaps, compensating for that weakness are the motivational and courageous lines as delivered by Akintola. "We must do it together. Lagos is watching. Nigeria is watching. The whole world is watching," she tells frightened colleagues inside the feverish environment of the hospital.
  Indeed, using the medium of film to refresh people's memory of a story that happened, almost animatedly, before everyone's eyes - constantly reported by the media just two years ago - could be a complex one for any filmmaker. Confirming that complexity in 93 Days, is when the film leaves out the key factors of how Lagos State Government constantly released information. As much as compactness is key in telling such story within two hours of digital motion pictures, just one scene where Yemi Shodimu appears as Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris underplays those crucial parts of government.
 In fact, a film about the battle against Ebola in Nigeria, as happened in 2014, is incomplete without depicting the constant and preventive speeches of Mr Babatunde Fashola, the then Governor of Lagos State. Fashola's image in the Ebola battle was like that of Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani during the 9/11 terror attack that brought the World Trade twin towers to grand zero. 

David Brett-Majors (Alastair Mackenzie) and Dr Ada Igonoh (Somkele Idhalama) in 93 Days.
 Also, the contribution of the Federal Ministry of Health, is also missing. Specifically, the much acknowledged non-partisan and collective energy from both Lagos state and Federal Government, which was a key factor is left out of the film. Even, if 93 Days goes into the real politics of who does what, perhaps, the film would have expanded the argument. Complete silence of these crucial aspects of government deducts from the essence of such a timely film project, particularly within artistic context.
  From the point where six health workers of First Consultant Hospital are quarantined, the texture of suspense is chilling. Particularly when expatriate doctor, David Brett-Majors (Alastair Mackenzie) leads Dr Ada Igonoh (Somkele Idhalama) to the ward and tells her: "Take a bed and start fighting."  Quarantined Dr Igonoh actually fights and wins, becoming the first of the quarantined persons to be freed of Ebola.
  The power of a film medium is stressed in 93 Days as the battle for population figure of Lagos appears to have been won by those who promote 21 million as against the Federal Government's questionable and unpopular official figure of over 10 million. Constantly, Lagos as a city of 21 million people was mentioned across local and international spaces, in the film.
 However, courage as a central and key essence of 93 Days is not lost. Even the making of the film itself, could be described as courageous effort on the part of the entire crew, given the controversy surrounding the concept from the beginning.

Dr Amevo Adadevoh (Bimbo Akintola) and other acts in 93 Days.  
 Shortly before the screen came alive inside House on the Rock, Austen Peters told the audience how she nearly rejected the idea of making the film when  she was approached with the idea. But having been "inspired by Fela on Broadway (the musical)," much earlier, she chose to extend her love for any Nigerian brand to the Ebola film idea.
  For Olakurin, 93 Days film teaches two lessons: having people do the right thing as exemplified by Dr Adadevoh who did not allow Sawyer to leave the hospital. He also argued that the film has boosted the image of Nigeria as a nation of filmmaking in the international space, after the film "enjoyed good reviews” abroad.
  Also, the Nigeria brand as a factor has been the attraction for the director, Gukas. "I am attracted to things that show the best of Nigeria; 93 Days shows Nigeria in its finest hours."
 As much as 93 Days adds to the Nigerian brand as a resilient entity and promotes the depth of creative incendiary abound, there are still spaces for future films on the Ebola, perhaps to expand the strength of the creative landscape. .




Ebola film, '93 Days', 'The Wedding Party' premiere at Toronto Film Festival



The much-awaited biopic about the dreaded Ebola, 93 Days and another film The Wedding Party have been announced as among works for screening at 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Canada, scheduled for next month.  
  
Scene from The Wedding Party
 Produced by Bolanle Austen-Peters, Dotun Olakurin, Pemon Rami and Steve Gukas...93 Days ...the Ebola movie starring Danny Glover, Bimbo Akintola, Keppy, Gideon Okeke, Tim Reid, Bimbo Manuel makes its world premiere in Toronto ahead of the Lagos, Nigeria cinema release on September 16, 2016.
  The Wedding Partya Elfike Film Collective "will premiere as Spotlight City to City programme" at the festival.  The premiere is scheduled for Thursday, September 8, 2016 at the historic Elgin Theatre. In its 41st edition, the TIFF runs from the 8th to 18th of September, 2016.
   After a controversial take off, 93 Days, the Ebola movie, directed by Steve Gukas was finally shown at a preview in Lagos few weeks ago.
  Loosely based on the heroic efforts of those behind the halting of the Ebola spread in Nigeria, 93Days, according to the  producers, honours "our gone but never forgotten heroes; we appreciate the living selfless fighters too!"
  Directed by Kemi Adetiba, The Wedding Party, a romcom, stars Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Alibaba, Iretiola Doyle, Banky W, and Adesua Etomi. Some of the stars of the film are expected to attend the premiere.
  “We are pleased to welcome The Wedding Party by award-winning filmmaker Kemi Adetiba to the Festival, and are proud to present it to a global audience,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. Adetiba has delivered an exciting character-driven film on a grand scale, while putting her own unique spin on a familiar genre.”
  According to Executive Producer, Mo Abudu “This will be the second time an EbonyLife movie is selected to screen at an international film festival of great repute. TIFF’s selection of ‘The Wedding Party’ is a true honour. I can’t think of a better place, or a better global audience for the film’s festival Premiere.”
  Written by playwright Tosin Otudeko and Adetiba, ‘The Wedding Party’ has been described as an "initiative designed to raise the bar in African storytelling through unrivalled technical achievement in filmmaking and creative media arts. Elfike Film Collective is a collaboration of Africa’s leading powerhouses - EbonyLife Films, FilmOne Distribution, Inkblot Productions and Koga Studios.
 Set in Lagos, Nigeria, The Wedding Party is the story of Dunni Coker (Adesua Etomi), a 24 year old art gallery owner and only daughter of her parents about to marry the love of her life, IT entrepreneur Dozie (Banky W). The couple took a vow of chastity and is looking forward to a ground-breaking first night together as a married couple.
  Alibaba and Sola Sobowale play the role of Dunni’s parents while Iretiola Doyle and Richard Mofe-Damijo play Dozie’s parents. Other notable names in the stellar cast include Zainab Balogun, AY, Beverly Naya, Emma OhMyGod, Lepacious Bose, Somkele Idhalama, Daniella Brown, Ikechukwu Onunaku, Ayo Makun, Enyinna Nwigwe, Kunle Idowu, Sambasa Nzeribe, Hafiz Oyetoro amongst others.
   The Lagos International Premiere of ‘The Wedding Party’ holds at The Landmark Centre in November 2016.


(First published 19/11/2012)
With the format of production such as a theme or screenplay, deliberately brought in to justify the mixed casts of Nigerian and Hollywood actors, it appears that the producer Tony Abulu and his financiers, Nexim Bank thought the prospect of Nollywood is outside the country.

The producer should know that it has been established that whatever accolades Nigeria had achieved in film, in the past two decades, started with 101 % local contents and humble beginning. 

It shocked me that Dr Bello, said to have gulped as much as $250, 000 will make its Nigeria premiere at just one center, Genesis Cinema at The Palms, Lekki, Lagos. The publicity materials I have received, so far, say Dr Bello opens this Sunday at Genesis.
On the set of Dr Bello
I am yet to see any preparation for a proper release to follow the premiere. Any Nigerian film project that has as much a budget as Dr Bello should be a pacesetter in cinema-chain format of distribution and not another hawking from one venue to another. I wonder how many people will get to see Dr Bello in Nigeria without cinema-chain distribution.

The director and producer of Dr Bello, Abulu and Nexim Bank should be told in clear language that the real challenge facing Nigerian film industry is not content: it’s distribution, specifically, lack of cinema value.

In theme, Dr Bello is a drama, and not thriller. It depicts an unrecognized or informal Nigerian Doctor based in Brooklyn, New York, and known as a miracle worker. With African incantations he miraculously ‘heals’ a child of Cancer.

One wonders what exactly you needed to spend as much money on just one production of such a movie, when the distribution outlets are non-existence. Half of the money spent should have been enough to can the movie, while the remaining half for distribution.

It would not be a surprise if President Goodluck Jonathan’s announcement of government’s $200m investment in the entertainment industry ends up another fuel subsidy scam or theft. Nexim bank, we have been told is one of the managers of the fund. 
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 Ajileye, Nollywood leading man bows out
By Tajudeen Sowole 
(First published October 17, 2006)
BETWEEN the early and mid-1990s there emerged a new phase in the Nigerian film and television industry, which unknowingly was to give birth to what is today known as Nollywood.
One of the front line actors and producers whose works contributed to that change was Yekini Ajileye who, sadly, passed on last week, October 11, 2006, nearly two years after his wife and actress, Mujidat died..READ MORE. 
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 'How I created Papalolo
comedian'


BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
(First published May 11, 2006)
IF one has to measure the advantage of mother-tongue in acting, particularly comedy, Ayo Ogunsina, a.k.a Papalolo, would be one of such rare examples of actors. He is also one of those early actors who, decades ago, have seen the prospects in today’s comic act business.
  Papalolo, a comic character from the group, Jester International, used to be a house-hold name for decades having invaded homes through such outlets as vinyl, stage performance, radio and TV.
  A week of TV viewing in the 1980s was incomplete without Papalolo and his co-acts, late Tajudeen Gbadamosi a.k.a, Jacob and Kayode Olaiya, a.k.a, Aderupoko.
  Jester, a break away group from Ola Omonitan-led Ajimajasan and His Awada Group, however, was on its way to extinction as soon as one of the leaders, Gbadamosi, passed on, in 1987. Today, the shadow of the impact made then however remains as both Papalolo and Aderupoko are still favourites of fans as stand up comic acts at social events.


Ayo Ogunsina a k a Papalolo
Ogunsina’s journey into the world of make-believe, like most actors of his generation, took a start from the late theatre icon, Adedeji Hubert Ogunde. "My first contact with acting came when I joined Ogunde in 1962 – then I was in my early 20s. Being with Ogunde was like in school, it was an experience well cherished even though I left two years after, in 1964," he recalled.
But Ogunsina quickly addd that he already had a READ MORE.  

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