BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
Oloibiri premiered to an elite audience on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at MUSON Centre, Lagos. Directed by Curtis Graham and featuring acting legends Olu Jacobs, Richard Mofe Damijo, Taiwo Ajai Lycett, as well as Ivie Okujaye, Daniel K Daniel, Bradley Gordon and more, Oloibiri tells the story of the town where crude oil was first discovered in Nigeria in 1956.
The film is an eye-opener, as is the short documentary the audience was treated to before the film, about how successive Nigerian governments have looked the other way while foreign oil companies pillaged Oloibiri without bothering themselves to give back to the town and its people.
Very shocking was it for me to hear that the closest hospital to the people of Oloibiri is more than one hour away. The short documentary showed the horrible state of the community school and medical centres.
Oloibiri was shot during the country’s ebola crisis and it was for this film, two years ago, that RMD had to lose weight leading many to worry and conclude that he was ill.
After seeing the film, here are my thoughts:
- Oloibiri is another breath of fresh air. In a Nollywood recently dominated by love stories, Lekki-Ikoyi bridges, characters taking trips to different parts of the world and slapstick comedy, it is good to see another film after 93 Days actually telling a Nigerian story which needed to be told. Many never paid any attention to the story of Oloibiri before now. Many more have never actually heard of Oloibiri. But with this film comes the potential to bring the town into our collective consciousness.
- Richard Mofe Damijo is a legend. If you were waiting for one more acting masterclass from RMD before regarding him as a legend in your books, here it is. RMD is so at home portraying “Gunpowder” in Oloibiri you may be forgiven for thinking he was a militant in his previous life. RMD has blessed our screens with great acting for about three decades, it’s easy to take it for granted. RMD is a genius.
- Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and Olu Jacobs complete what you may regard as the veterans’ show of class. Add the brilliance of Ivie Okujaye and it doesn’t take you long to discover that this film’s strongest point is the acting on display. Wale Adebayo also makes a brief appearance in what I believe to be a role heaven-made for him.
- Other than acting and the gun battles, there’s hardly anything more to love about the film. Oloibiri promises much but falls short in its delivery. The makeup to portray gunshot wounds goes into a straight battle with the film’s horrible sound for the worst technical element of the film. Thanks to the makeup artist, there are more boils than gunshot wounds on the actors.
- Can’t Nollywood, for the love of God, find white actors who are actually actors and are good at acting? The increasingly worrying trend of Nigerian filmmakers not caring about the acting capabilities of foreigners they throw into their films continues in Oloibiri. The beautiful acting performances put in by Mofe-Damijo, Jacobs, Ajai-Lycett and Okujaye was almost ruined by the poor acting of Bradley Gordon, William R. Moses and co.
- The story and its development – absolutely shocking! Just as you would with undercooked rice, you immediately discover how undercooked the story of this film is as soon as you have a mouthful. The filmmakers, it seemed, were too much in a hurry to make this “big” film with white people and big Nollywood names that they forgot to pay some attention to the most important element of a film – the story. The writer kept throwing characters, places and “twists” in the audience’s face at every opportunity. Only Gunpowder and Elder have anything resembling a backstory. 80% of the others only appear when the writer wants them to, despite no previous mention of them and, of course, they disappear as soon as the writer is done with them.
Watch Oloibiri trailer here. The film has been in cinemas nationwide since Friday, October 21.