Tag Archives: C.J Obasi

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.


FilmMaking is a tough business to crack financially and creatively. You may have all the ideas but no money, you many have all the money, but can’t put something great together . It’s a little bit of Art,Science and Business . But some people , manage to crack the code, fully or partially, and tell their stories. We’ve heard of how Robert Rodriguez did it with El Mariachi for $7,000 and years later, Shane Carruth (a former Software Engineer), with PRIMER for $7,000, wining the Grand Jury Prize at 2004 Sundance Festival.

As inspiring as those stories are, their realities are quite different from ours. There are lot of things we can take from them, but at the back of our mind, we know that stories of those Stateside, arent easily transplanted to everyday Nigeria.We need our own stories.

Glad to let you know that there are also inspiring stories, right here in Nigeria.

Here is one, that of C.J “Fiery” Obasi, the writer/director or OJUJU , a no budget zombie film which won him the 2014 AFRIFF Best Nigerian Film and AMVCA Trail Blazer award winner, Not bad for a feature debut.

In his own words.

For me, it wasn’t really a conscious choice or decision. Most people I know at some point had to make that decision to become filmmakers, maybe as a result of an experience or whatever, for me I don’t remember ever making that decision. I just know that ever since I had consciousness of seeing movies, I knew I wanted to make films. As a child film was such a wonder to me, such magic to me, and I always wanted to be a part of that. So growing up, as an adult was always about chasing that wonder. It was never just purely about making films. It wasn’t that simple. It was more about chasing an ideal, a purpose…something idealistic like that.

As a young filmmaker in Nigeria, if you don’t have a rich Uncle who’s going to bankroll your every whim and fantasy, or you don’t have Dangote on speed dial, you have to confront one bitter truth, which is that you’re on your own. Once you’re able to swallow that bitter pill, and let it work its magic in your system, then you can wake up to reality and start making things happen for you. ‘For you’ being the key phrase here. Jim & Joan was a result of ‘swallowing that bitter pill”. Unfortunately we were never able to finish it. But we took a lot of lessons from it, moving on to make and finish OJUJU, and then O-TOWN.

I kinda figured earlier on, that if I was going to abandon a lucrative 9-5 and venture into the unknown wild of indie filmmaking, with absolutely no real prospects for success, the only way it would be worth it was, if I did it on my own terms. Maybe if I got bankrolled at the early stages, I would have made soul less films, with no depth or vision, who knows, but I always had a conscious belief in my storytelling, in my background, in my influences, and in my voice…It had to be my kind of storytelling or nothing. Some people will call that ego or narcissism but we all chase after something. If what I chase after is purity in my own art form, in my voice being unhinged, then who’s to say what. So long as I’m happy.

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