Tag Archives: AFRIFF

Could this be the emergence of a Naija New Wave?

Cinema has seen various evolutions and movements since its birth, Italian Neorealism, German Expressionism, Third Cinema, Cinema Novo, Nouvelle Vague,Japanese New Wave etc

These movement were a contrast and somewhat rebellion to commercial filmmaking, which was all about beautiful stars, box office profit and opening weekend, leading to formulaic films, less risk and everything looking the same. These movements also existed to enable artists who didn’t have the resources of  studios, to make films on smaller budgets.

Lovers of cinema who saw the possibilities of artistic expression, unconventional thought, social or political messages started movements which went away from what commercial films demanded in how they’re shot,directed, edited, narrative structure and even casting. The most prominent being the Nouvelle Vague aka French New Wave and years later would come the Dogma 95.

Started by two Danish Filmmakers , the idea was

“In a business of extremely high budgets we figured we should balance the dynamic as much as possible.

Their intent was to “purify” filmmaking by focusing on story and actors performance and no reliance on special effects and technical gimmicks. Like the French New Wave before them they wanted to try new things outside of whats’ expected of traditional filmmaking. They wanted have films to have  personality, be expressive (auteur film) .

There hasn’t been a film movement in Africa or its largest producer of films, Nigeria’s Nollywood; which is why,  inspired by the French New Wave and Dogma 95 movement, 3 Nigerian filmmakers are working  on jump starting one.

The trio of Abba Makama(Green White Green) , C.J Obasi (Ojuju) and Michael Omonua(Sun Eje) make up Sureal 16.

According to a press release The collective is designed to create a new kind of Nigerian cinema that’s unhinged and unconventional – based purely on artistic freedom and expression.

The name Surreal 16 “because pure cinema transcends the physical in it’s size and scope, and isn’t limited to the tangible. 16 because the collective was formed in 2016”.

Each has directed a short film forming the anthology, Visions.

In an industry that’s been commercial from start, there’s never been room for films made for art or expression, resulting in anything not deemed highly profitable dismissed; this led to the current incarnation of Nollywood ignoring entire genres, limiting patrons options to comedy and romance.

Their contribution to spark a change:

By making films which question the status quo and confront audiences with questions. Inspired by the DIY attitude of the French New Wave, Dogme 95, and more recently the mumblecore films, we set out to make our first anthology of three short films titled VISIONS.

The films will première in November at the 2017 Africa International Film Festival(AFRIFF) the fastest growing film festival in Nigeria, where they unveil their manifesto.

 

Those previous movements gave rise to some of the greatest eras in filmmaking ;  the French New Wave influencing the film brats and that cascaded into the 90s indie film revolution which had filmmakers who influenced many of todays’ young Nollywood directors under 40.

It would be interesting to see what could become of what the collective aspire to do.

Nollywood’s Generation NeXt- The Evolution

2014 was an interesting year in filmMaking, and to be specific in this case, Nigerian filmMaking. One of the films that managed to make a lot of waves was a little Low/No Budget film called , “A Mile from Home” directed by Eric Aghimen , a first time director that managed to pull of a feat whose production story is reminiscent of how Robert Rodriguez made “El Mariachi” and Christopher Nolan made “The Following”. He had a vision, some equipment and no money, but he got some young actors to catch on to the vision and after many months of sporadic shooting schedules, they had a film which put them all on the map, racking up numerous awards and several wins.

Another triumph was OJUJU, which came later on in the year, as it made it’s screening debut at AFRIFF . Another low/no budget film which started with a vision , a love letter to George Romero and his creation of his much loved Zombie movies. Director CJ Obasi tried to raise funds to pull it off but to no avial, he didnt let that stop him. He called in favours , made barters and did all he could to assemble a team that believed in his vision. The film went on to win Best Nigerian Film at AFRIFF.

Gone Too Far started life as a play by London based writer Bola Agbaje, a coming of age tale, about culture clash/shock and identity, a insightful but absolutely hilarious fly on the wall journey about being African in England. It would soon become a film sponsored by the British Film Insitutue(BFI) and directed by Destiny Ekaragha , a British Nigerian director. Though their film was sponsored and developed by the BFI , doesnt mean it was smooth. They faced a lot of opposition, they were asked and expected to make a lot of changes to the story, mostly based on assumptions and tainted perceptions of what a “black/ghetto” film should be. They stood their ground and found a producer that beleived in their vision the way that was true to the story. The film got made and did very well, winning several awards in the comedy category and also taking away the Viewers Choice Award, one the everyone felt was well deserved at it has a very well received screening at the University of Calabar  earlier in the week.

These are all films by directors in their early 30’s, and it’s a very good indication of the constant evolution of the industry . There has been a lot of talk of Old Nollywood and New Nollywood, sometimes it has been taken up to the extent of Old Nollywood vs New Nollywood.  While it’s understandable to see where some people want to draw a line of distinction, all one has to remember is the evolution of Hollywood. Starting from the Silent to the Talkies to the Golden Age to the era of the Film School Brats(Copolla,Speilberg,Scorcese etc) to the Indie Stars and Rebels(Soderbergh,Tarantino,Spike Jonze,Fincher) to present times. It was not a New Hollywood, just simply one that evolved due to times and new voices entering the picture.

“There is no Old Nollywood or New Nollywood, there is simply an evolving Nollywood, which has the pioneers whose voices rang around the world and laid the foundation that has allowed the new voices that are stepping up to the microphone to let their voices be heard” – Scribe Speak

As more voices of young filmMakers, both home and abroad step up to the mic, it’s an exciting time for me both as a film fan and a filmMaker , as this is just another stage of evolution , and is just the beginning of the journey . 2015 should be an exciting year.