BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
The 2016 edition of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) came to an end last night at the Convention Centre of Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. It brought to an end what had been a week of film screenings, industry sessions, masterclasses, networking and parties.
Before I proceed, I must commend the founder, Chioma Ude and her amazing team and volunteers. Once again, they did a good job of what has arguably become the biggest film festival this part of the world. Kudos!
There were brilliant films on show and there were poor ones too. Yes, poor! I saw three of those. One was from Ghana. But that’s not why we are here. I will rather talk about the better ones I saw.
AY Makun and the box office illusion.
Bros AY. There’s no denying you are a good businessman. No, scratch that. You’re a brilliant businessman. But please, you and Uncle Opa Williams should not ever repeat what you people said at your AFRIFF session. That thing about the box office successes of 30 Days in Atlanta and A Trip to Jamaica justifying them as good films. Please. Abeg. Don’t. They are poor films, and this is not a beefing something. A Trip to Jamaica isn’t even in the top five best films released in 2016. You obviously were simply after making money. You have. Stay in your lane. Don’t come and be making such statements that are insulting to proper filmmakers who make brilliant films. Those who painstakingly pay attention to the quality of films they put out.
Are we clear on that? Thank you.
In case you missed it, Akin Omotosho is something else.
Omotosho’s Vaya was the best film I saw at the festival. By a mile. There were other brilliant films – Green White Green, Amaka’s Kin, ’76 and Ojukokoro for example – but Vaya was storytelling at its finest. Watching that film was for me like watching a genius artist paint on a canvass. Contrary to the popular Nollywood belief that if a film isn’t made in English, regardless of the story’s locale, it won’t be a good one, Vaya would have tanked if it had arrived in all the glory of the English language. I still cannot get over the pain of Rogers Ofime and co deciding to tell the Oloibiri story in English. And to think that most of those who played in Vaya are first-time actors!
Story is king. It has always been, it will always be.
One Nollywood film that proves that if you get your story and its scripting right, 75% of your success is already guaranteed is Dare Olaitan’s debut film, Ojukokoro. The brilliant performances from Seun Ajayi, Tope Tedela, Wale Ojo and co were simply toppings on a tasty cake (This is not to take away from the awesomeness the actors brought to the table). Ojukokoro had errors but I will gladly watch this film three times, back-to-back than sit through some films that gulped scary budgets or entered some record books. The plot twists in the film no be here. Produced by Femi Ogunsanwo, Ojukokoro is one to look forward to its release in 2017. After its screening at AFRIFF, a standing ovation from the hall packed with filmmakers and enthusiasts followed.
Nollywood finds it hard to hide its ‘disdain’ towards Kannywood.
The British Council facilitated what has long been overdue. An industry session with a focus on Kannywood. The Hausa filmmaking industry domiciled in Kano (hence the name, Kannywood) has long been touched with only very long poles by our dear Nollywood. Unlike Asaba-Nollywood, this industry has over the years found it hard to get attention beyond the Northern Nigerian borders. This can be attributed to quite a few factors. Language, style and the conservative nature (due to culture and religion) of Kannywood can all be pointed at in a bid to try to understand why an industry that began way before Nollywood and which has a massive market in its domain attracts little or no interest from our Lagos people. “Kannywood Calling” was supposed to provide an avenue for Lagos to meet Kano at AFRIFF. That was the idea. Until Lagos decided to disappear. The hall where Kannywood Calling held was well-populated only minutes earlier when Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Rita Dominic were panelists at an earlier session. But as soon as that session ended and it was time for Kannywood to take centre-stage, this happened.
What a wonderful way of telling Ali Nuhu and co that we are open to a Nollywood-Kannywood collaboration. Tah!
Nollywood doesn’t even care about copyright.
Another session which was alarmingly under-attended was the one about copyright protection facilitated by the folks from Gunuka and co. You would think that considering the recent copyright sagas involving Aunty Omoni Oboli, that Uncle Niyi Akinmolayan one and the other one involving that UK-based Aunty, many people will want to understand how this works in the entertainment business. For where? Only a handful of Ndi Feem people were there. The others? Well, some were waiting patiently for last night’s gala ceremony where they could flaunt their non-things on the red carpet.
After now, Aunty Omoni will go and take somebody’s this thing again.
Until next year, when AFRIFF shows up again. I’m out.