BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
Dear Desmond Elliot,
I am concerned about you. Honestly, I am. You see, a lot of us have heard rumours of how people’s reasoning capacities tend to go South whenever they become part of the government. Some of us think it is a lie, that you don’t suddenly become unreasonable just because you entered government. We think that those who become whatever they become after they take the oath of public office in Nigeria were already that before they joined the government. Now though, I am beginning to question my unbelief. Maybe what we heard is true after all. Maybe people’s ability to reason goes South whenever they walk into the corridors of power.
I do not know how recent or otherwise this trending interview with HIPTV is but I want to believe it is not more than two years old. And if my calculation is true, that means you had “entered” government before the interview. That also means then that either we should be worried for you because you have suddenly become less of a thinker than when you entered politics, or you were actually not much of a thinker before you joined the bandits we call lawmakers. Either way, e be like say wahala dey. And that is why I am concerned.
Bros D, in case no one has told you, that 133-second video was a tough watch. I’ll tell you why.
First, your accent. How, somehow, your mouth got tricked into letting out your words in that manner, I might never understand. That accent is neither British nor American. Neither Scottish nor Australian. It has no place in Ireland or Canada. I am also pretty certain that the painful collection of vowels and consonants does not belong anywhere in Africa. You sounded horrible and I respect those who are condemned to listening to you speak like that daily. No one deserves to be subjected to listening to such horribility. That non-accent crime is worse than what we accuse many on-air-personalities of. And considering the fact that while you were battering our ears, you were calling on the government to ban something non-indigenous to us, does that mean we should have you banned on the basis of your accent?
That then brings me to the major reason why I wrote you this letter, Oga Desmond Elliot. I need to ask you something: At what point did you decide that government placing a ban on content will make our industry grow? Was that thought forced on you? Were you held at gunpoint to make such embarrassing claim? It is hard, very hard to imagine that someone who said that was at a time tasked with the responsibility of making laws in Lagos state. Now, I see why you were convinced it was a good idea to commission toilets.
Having no foreign content come into Nigeria is going to cripple the industry. Two reasons why (of course there are more).
There are not many films from 2000 to date that should be anywhere near a classroom where people are being taught how to make good films. The only example many Nollywood works – including plenty you have either featured in or directed – should be about is how not to make a film. Secondly, especially in the area of art, it is important for cultures, philosophies, creative reasonings and so on from different parts of the world to mix. Such mixtures help influence movements in arts as well as evolution and improvement.
This is Nigeria, and we think bannings solve all problems. So I’m also not too shocked that you have come up with this proposal. However, egbon Desmond Elliot, this is poor from you.
So, in a Culture Diaries video that recently surfaced, Nollywood filmmaker Ema Edosio told Wana Udobang about how FilmOne, arguably Nigeria’s largest cinema chain rejected her film, Kasala because it was “too boring”.
“I submitted it to Filmone and they said this is not our target audience, it is too boring and our audience will walk out. I looked at the email and it was a break ik my heart”
Full Culture Diaries conversation with Ema Edosio-Deelen in the linkhttps://t.co/W1ZkIyadl6 pic.twitter.com/X8jTIJzIUv
— Wana Udobang aka chop life ministry (@MissWanaWana) July 21, 2019
I don’t know where to start from with this. I admit it’s about business for these guys and I do not begrudge business people for thinking business first. However, using “too boring” to describe Kasala! is the kind of poor form I never thought FilmOne could hit. Now, I am forced to wonder if those who run that outfit actually know what good films are. According to Edosio, Silverbird also said it was too arty. Again, I laugh. I recently got to watch Kasala! again and that film is an easy blend of art and commercial appeals. I doubt, contrary to FilmOne’s laughable claim, that people would walk out of the cinema halls because they are not entertained. I know a section of the Nigerian audience think that the disturbing “comedy” films of AY Makun and Bovi represent the next best thing after sliced bread, but even those people won’t be unappreciative enough to walk out while watching Kasala!
Kasala! is a brilliant film. Totally enjoyable. It is also a good example of how to make a film that doesn’t slap all in the name of comedy. The film is socially conscious, witty, entertaining and arty. Rejecting it based on such flimsy excuses that FilmOne and Silverbird gave is one of the reasons why I think Nollywood isn’t in safe hands with these financial powerhouses. No wonder I can’t find the fortitude to rewatch any of the “record breakers” they had a hand in producing. Give me a Kasala! a thousand times over a Wedding Party. And I love entertaining films.
I admit that a few aspects of Nollywood have gotten better since FilmOne entered the industry. They have done some things right. It is a good thing that we have as many cinemas screens as we do now and some of it is down to their investment. But they need to make more decisions in favour of the industry they are playing in. Not just spit favours to a few financially privileged filmmakers and lobbyists. As I always say: it is important not to make the same distribution mistakes that Hollywood made in the 1930s and 1940s.
Another many thanks.