BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
Femi Odugbemi is fifty-two years old and he has spent decades out of that time being a filmmaker. He however confesses that even though he has lived all his life in Lagos, he has never been to Makoko, talkless of experiencing the community the way filming his latest work, Gidi Blues,has made him to.
Gidi Blues tells the story of Akin, an indulged playboy from an affluent family who accidentally meets an interesting beauty in an unpredictable place and Nkem, a beautiful, confident but unusual young lady who devotes herself to her work as a community volunteer in the belly of the city’s worst slum.
The film which features Gideon Okeke, Lepacious Bose, Banky W, Hauwa Allahbura, Lepacious Bose, Daniel Lloyd, Tina Mba, Bukky Wright and singer Aduke is currently showing in cinemas across the country and has received several positive reviews including one from respected fimmaker, Tunde Kelani.
In this exclusive interview with TNS, Femi Odugbemi talks about making the film, the Makoko experience and the one thing that would make him happy about the film in future.
On what gave birth to Gidi Blues…
I just liked the story. I thought that the story resonated with me on many levels. One, I thought that it was a very simple love story and everybody loves a love story. But it is also a love story that had several lessons of life. Nigeria is full of talented young people and they need to think of how to use their talent to build their environment. Also, Lagos has an energy that is so different so I wanted to capture that.
On the challenge of filming in Makoko…
Makoko is challenging for any filmmaker because first and foremost, it’s a slum on water. It’s also a community with its own ways. You couldn’t have gone in there and shot a film without proper planning; without the cooperation of the people of Makoko themselves. But I think it is a romantic environent in itself.
Yes, there is poverty but there was a way which I felt the humanity of the people. I felt a community with a sense of togetherness even in the depriavation of that environment. They have been able to retain who they were. They have an economy that worked. They were sitting right before our very eyes but we never saw them. There’s this row of houses you see while passing through Third Mainland Bridge and nobody really gives them any attention.
So, when the story itself takes the audoence there, they feel a sense of how varied Lagos is. Lagos is as rich as Banana Island and as poor as Makoko. There’s got to be a way in which we are able to provide for this community of people that have less.
On how the people felt…
I was very glad to take on the challenge of filming there. I was very glad to be able to invest in a small way in the economy of the place by ensuring that we took actors from there, we got food from there, we got people to help us, we got boats from there. It was fascinating an experience for the local people to see us. My hope is that, just from that experience, one day a child from Makoko would say that their life ambition is to be a filmmaker. That would be great.