BY ESE DIBEBI
Nollywood actress, Ireti Doyle has admitted that many of the stories being produced in the Nigerian filmmaking industry are of poor quality.
Ireti Doyle who gave a widely-praised performance in Niyi Akinmolayan’s TIFF-bound film, The Arbitration thinks that a shift in focus from the artistic side of filmmaking to the technical side is to blame.
Speaking exclusively to TNS, the actress also condemned plans by the government and a section of Nollywood introduce laws that will see the industry “regulated” in the form of the controversial MOPICON Bill.
When asked about her opinion on the proposed bill, she said, “Would it be great if there were some rules and regulations guarding some areas like distribution, copyright, marketing… things like that? Fantastic! We need that in order to make it work.”
“But when you want to begin to set boundaries that would begin to discriminate between who can be a part of the industry and who can’t, then you’re beginning to violate individual rights.
“You cannot tell me that I cannot paint or write a script unless I’m registered or paying you dues. It’s not like in Medicine where I have to go to school for X number of years and do medical exams. Being artistic is subjective. I think everybody has the right to express themselves. We need to be careful when we use the word “regulate”. It means so many different things,” Ireti cautioned.
On whether she agrees that stories are not as iconic as they were in the earlier days of Nollywood, she said:
Yes, there is a dearth of strong stories and scripts. Beautiful scripts like The Arbitration are few and far between. But that has always been the case. You mentioned Amaka Igwe, I challenge you to name five more. Don’t forget that TV is what gave birth to the kinds of memorable characters she created. Things have changed now. You barely have time to absorb a good film before another one hits you. And another one. And another.
However, I do believe that beyond not having strong stories, if you’re known as an actor for giving strong performances, you will remain evergreen in the mind of the viewer. I have people who talk to me about Riddles and Hopes That was 1997. I think we just have to do the best with what we have. A few years ago, we were strong on stories and weak on technicals. Now we are very strong on the technicals. There will come a time when we will marry everything and it will become a norm. Right now, we have a few people who are able to marry the two. It’s going to get better.
On if there are enough conversations in the forms of workshops, conferences and seminars which focus on how to move the industry forward, the actress who also stars in The Wedding Party, another film in the Toronto International Film Festival lineup said:
Conversations are ongoing. Are they having the right kinds of conversations? I don’t know. But Nollywood is growing? Or have we not grown? Faster? Maybe not. Don’t forget that Nollywood is not operating in a vacuum. Nollywood has to live, survive and grow within this conundrum known as Nigeria.
We are not the only industry facing these challenges. There’s no continuity in any industry. Everything is in doldrums. We’re trying to salvage and work with what we have. And that’s the reality of our existence as Nigerians.