BY ESE DIBEBI
Tope Oshin is respected as a filmmaker and producer in the Nigerian filmmaking industry. She has shone, in a male dominated endeavor, alongside a handful of other women. Her works have traveled far around the world.
Her works as a director/producer/writer/showrunner include The Young Smoker, Relentless, Journey To Self, New Horizons, Fifty, Hotel Majestic, Hush, Ireti and Tinsel.
Due to her being an authority in the industry, her latest work – a documentary that attempts to profile and spotlight female the very few directors in Nollywood – Amaka’s Kin – The Women of Nollywood is quite highly-anticipated.
In this chat with TNS‘ ‘Segun Odejimi, she talks about the challenges of making a documentary about women directors in Nollywood, Amaka Igwe, how she thinks women are still not taken seriously in the business, mentorship and more.
TNS: What should the world expect from Amaka’s Kin?
Tope Oshin: Amaka’s Kin carries the voices of Nigeria’s working female directors, their backgrounds and individual journeys to becoming Directors of Film/TV, a very male-dominated job. They talk about how they overcome, and indeed ignore the challenges, rising above them to deliver beautiful stories to their audience and setting a pace for others to follow. Amaka’s Kin is dedicated to Amaka Igwe, and we discover exactly how big an impact she left on Nollywood in general, and the strength she gave to female directors in Nigeria practising today, and those to come.
TNS: Considering the poor documentation culture in Nigeria, how challenging was it making this film?
Tope Oshin: It was quite challenging on different levels, especially on the logistic side of things. Scheduling interviews with these very busy women, one of whom I am, was quite a daunting task. Collating and collecting support material as well as the ongoing research and fact finding to tell a true and wholesome story. Amaka’s Kin is about 2 years in the making, and I had tremendous support from my closest friends and colleagues, to keep pushing even at the times when I gave up severally due to the many challenges along the way. Amaka’s Kin was totally self-funded, because it was a personal quest for me that I needed to do. I needed to immortalize Amaka Igwe in my own way, as well as celebrate the amazing female directors thriving in this clime. The best part of the process for me was learning. I didn’t set out to make a statement. I set out first, to celebrate my film mum, as I call her, Amaka Igwe, and then as an extension, every other woman who works in her stead, walks in her path today, and called a Director. I set out to examine our many journeys, differences, challenges, strengths and victories. It was a worthy cause, and I’m really grateful that it’s come to see the light of day.
TNS: Do you think women get the recognition they deserve in Nollywood compared to other filmmaking industries in the world?
Tope Oshin: I still see a certain level of humouring female directors as being “cute” or “trying”, or boxed into being “less technical” than men. A director is a director, irrespective of gender. A good film is a good film, irrespective of the director’s gender.
TNS: You have never missed an opportunity to highlight how Amaka Igwe influenced you as a filmmaker. Do you think established filmmakers today do enough to influence and mentor those coming after them?
Tope Oshin: I say it and keep saying it, because I’m eternally grateful and still amazed at how ONE giant, who was not afraid to make other giants, could be responsible for encouraging and pushing another individual into becoming better and bolder and stronger and into purpose. I do not think that established filmmakers today are doing as much or even enough to encourage and mentor a newer generation. A yoruba adage says, “When a banana tree dies, it replaces itself with its child”. This is what we should do, encourage, mentor, guide, empower every and anyone around us willing to do more, and be more. I believe solidly in giving back and encourage other filmmakers to do same.
TNS: Apart from showing the world how major the women in Nollywood are, are there any other things you hope to achieve with this project?
Tope Oshin: Apart from celebrating Amaka Igwe, and the current female directors of Nollywood, it’s my strong aim to encourage and embolden younger women, or even already mature ones who are afraid to start, who are still questioning themselves based on their gender, that it can be done! They can seek and chase and achieve their dreams by taking a first step, by realizing that there are women in Nigeria, young and mature, in the director’s chair, calling the shots, telling their stories, disregarding cultural and traditional norms or gender set boundaries. Amaka’s Kin sets out to breed new and bolder generations of brilliant female directors in Nigeria, in Africa, to the world.