BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
I host a show on Top Radio, Lagos about Nollywood and one of the times I am forced to stroll into an argument with the wonderful listeners who decide to call the show is when they say something like, “I don’t watch Nollywood. They make bad films.” And times like that come pretty often. There’s an average of at least one caller who says something close to that per week.
It is on radio though that I can still find the strength to argue, or better put, the strength to attempt to set the records straight. I have since given up on that on Twitter. Not only is Twitter full of anger, it is also heavily littered with infants who will not hesitate to throw insults and disrespect in the midst of your conversations. These days, savage is the new cool for this set of social media users. But radio is still a safe space to have matured conversation, therefore I am quick to listen and then disagree if need be with a caller’s view especially when it is on the walkway of the stereotype a lot of us have slammed on Nollywood.
I am a keen observer of the industry. I have been, professionally, for the past five years and those who have followed my writings know that I am quick to call out subpar productions and performances or downright ridiculous happenings when I see them. Consequently, more than once I have been labelled a hater because of my strong opinions of some people’s works. A case in point: Uche Jombo.
But Nollywood is doing great work. It has done so through the years. A few things have become better. Production, for example, is much better in most of the films that have been released in the past few years. Thanks to the advancement in technology, many Nigerian filmmakers have their motion pictures shot with as sophisticated a camera as their budgets can allow. And consequently, most films can now boast of crisp and clearer pictures. Despite it remaining a constant problem in Nollywood, sound design has become better. We are still some way out but the sound you hear in a lot of the productions today are not as bad as the industry had it in the late 90s through the early 2000s.
Now also, many films take the viewer more seriously than before. Ridiculous things like a ghost looking left, right and left before crossing the road or a wife tasting the food she has just poisoned before setting it in front of her husband now happen far less regularly. And for every five or six boring romantic comedies that feature about a dozen shots of the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge, there is at least one brilliant thriller, comedy, or crime action film. For every producer or director who isn’t bothered about putting out lazy work, there is one director who rarely compromises in their work. So, rather than dismissing beforehand the works that come out of the industry because of the few bad ones you watched almost a decade ago, why not watch out for the works of those filmmakers who almost always ensure their films are not expensively put together unwatchables.
Since he broke into the mainstream Nollywood space with his brilliant work, Confusion Na Wa in 2013, Kenneth Gyang has not disappointed with his feature and short films. Judging by the reviews it has pulled so far, his latest effort – Oloture is a work to watch out for. If his debut feature (Green White Green) is anything to go by, Abba T. Makama‘s upcoming project, The Lost Okoroshi will be worth the wait too. There are other young filmmakers whose works hardly disappoint. Dare Olaitan is one. His latest film, Knock Out Blessing presents Ade Laoye in a way none of us had seen before. Ojukokoro was a brilliant one too. There are several women who are making amazing films. Films you will want to watch again. Ema Edosio made a stunning work of art called Kasala! Tope Oshin makes really good films. Kemi Adetiba made King of Boys which was not only critically acclaimed but also commercially successful in the cinemas. Another female doing awesome stuff is Jadesola Osiberu. Mildred Okwo‘s The Meeting remains a very good comedy film. There are many more names you should always expect to not disappoint. One is Izu Ojukwu, another of course, is Kunle Afolayan who recently released a film I enjoyed – Mokalik. Niyi Akinmolayan‘s works are pretty sound too. Since his days of Fuelling Poverty up until the recent Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Ishaya Bako has proven that he knows his onions. As safe as it was, Genevieve Nnaji‘s Lionheart was a nice debut film, you should see it. There are several other directors too.
Damilola Ogunsi in Kunle Afolayan’s “Mokalik”
The statement that Nollywood makes only bad films is false and highly uninformed. Keep in mind that the noise a filmmaker makes about their film isn’t a reflection of how good said film will be so don’t go to watch a film because of its social media noise and then feel cheated when you walk out of the cinema. Like I advised a caller on Screenshots two weeks ago, make it a habit to watch the trailers before going to see any film in the cinema. Also, follow the filmmakers that do good work and watch their films. You do not have to watch every film that is released, except you’re a critic or a journalist who writes about the industry. Most of all, stop stereotyping Nollywood as a synonym for “bad”.