AS ANNOUNCED BY LANRE OLADELE
*To be buried in Oyo town, Oyo State.
* To be celebrated July 3 by iREP Film Forum in Lagos.
Pioneer Nigerian filmmaker, Francis Adetunji Oladele, who passed on in the early hours of June 22, 2015 at an Ibadan hospital, after a brave battle with prostate cancer, will be buried on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at his residence – Lapiti Estate, ‘The Forest’ (Opposite First Baptist Church), Oke Isokun, Iseyin Byepass, Oyo Township, Oyo State. He would have been 83 on August 30.
On September 21, 1965, he established Calpenny-Nigeria Films Limited – the first private film production company in Nigeria — with an intent to provide a platform for artistic expression in a more profound way and in the process, opening up the Nigerian arts for international scrutiny and acceptability.
Unknown to many, what could have become the very first indigenous feature film from the production stable of Oladele, was Trials of Brother Jero, the popular satiric comedy by Wole Soyinka. That was way back in 1966. However, the success recorded by Kongi’s Harvest (also by Soyinka) both at Ibadan as well as during the Dakar Festival around 1965, coupled with its thematic relevance, especially in respect to African despots at the time, made that work the preferred project ahead of Trials of Brother Jero.
Apart from being the pioneer in the Nigerian feature film industry, Francis Oladele achieved another first for Nigeria by deciding to make films based on the work of successful and internationally acclaimed Nigerian writers. By indicating a creative preference for historical epics, he also established for the Nigerian film industry the vital link between great literary works and film. This adaptation of novels into film not only assures future feature film-makers in Nigeria of a storehouse of material as manifested by the prolific output at Nigerian writers, but also serves as an inspiration for future writers who can now write with the wider and more immediate cinema audiences in mind. After the initial efforts, both established and burgeoning Nigerian storytellers have had their works adapted for the screen.
Therefore, armed with its Pioneer Certificate, Francis Oladele’s Calpenny Nigeria Films Limited, produced Kongi’s Harvest (1970), based on Wole Soyinka’s dramatic epic of the same title. Shot on location in Nigeria, with a Nigerian cast and a mixed technical crew of foreigners and Nigerians, it was directed by the popular Afro-American actor/director, Ossie Davis.
In 2012, Francis Oladele was conferred with the iREP Documentary Film Forum’s Lifetime Achievement award, which earns him a place in the prestigious iREP International Fim Festival’s Hall of Fame.
NB: Two days after his internment, iREP Documentary Film Forum in conjunction with his associates and friends, will celebrate his life and times on July 3 at the Freedom Park in Lagos.