Tag Archives: Naija Auteurs

WHERE ARE THE NAUTEURS ?

In film criticism, auteur theory holds that a film reflects the director’s personal creative vision, as if they were the primary “auteur” (the French word for “author”).

In spite of—and sometimes even because of—the production of the film as part of an industrial process, the auteur’s creative voice is distinct enough to shine through studio interference and the collective process.– Wikipedia

The Auteur theory is one that has never gotten unanimous agreement. Many strongly disagree and emphasize the contribution of the crew. While this is a valid point, the auteur theory is quite an interesting one.  Proponents of the Auteur theory advocate that,

Auteurism was to make a distinction between films and the films that are worthy of serious study, making them unique in style and voice.

You can see this in the work of Directors like Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorcese, Steve McQueen, Spike Lee, Tim Burton, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Nicolas Widn Refn, David Fincher and others who do work with studios, but still show an indie spirit, there is a consistency in their body of work, a unifying thread and voice that you recognize, especially when others are trying to imitate the. The stories they tell, their dialogue, their cinematography (framing &composition), use of music, use of colour, the kind of characters who always appear in their stories, recurring themes

Which leads to the question, Do we have Auteurs in Nigeria? Andrew Dosunmu and Newton Aduaka, Akin Omotoso  can be said to be auteurs . They tell African Stories, have identifiable cinematic voices, but how about those living and practicing their craft in Nigeria?

As this is Nigeria where everything is a little different, I’d like to propose the word Nauteur

NAUTEUR :A Nigerian Auteur who overcomes insane odds without compromising and executing a unique creative piece of cinema

Not to be confused with British Slang, NUTTER, a crazy person.

But we’ll revisit that another day


“Auteurs are directors who put a strong personal stamp on their films, usually through the mise en scene. They are contrasted with the metteur-en-scene, the director who merely functions, more or less, at the service of the script”.

I know, we don’t have a studio system (though marketers dictate terms like studios do) .

Do we have Directors whose body of work distinctively carries their voice in a very recognizable way, Has traits that are distinct to their style of filmmaking and shows up in all their films? Distinct enough that you can miss the opening credits, haven’t previously heard of the film, but are familiar enough with their voice that you can recognize it (or an imitation of it),

If so. Who? Not a rhetorical question. I really want to know them cos they could be flying under a radar cos cinemas and marketers just don’t know what to do with the types of films they make.

The aforementioned names have all significantly contributed to American cinema in the last 30 years , and have influenced many young filmmakers world-wide; while you may not like some of their films (or any) their impact on cinema is undeniable

Their voices are able to stand out in a marketplace that is flooded. Their films have a distinctive flavour that makes it different from the journeymen directors, directors for hire and others. Auteurs have turned the tide, created milestones and sometimes set the tone for the next decade(s) in film. They’ve started movements, opened doors and blown us away with their brilliant films.

Think about it in today’s world. Where a large proportion of what is available are generic rom-coms and comic book movies. Do you like that?

Where would cinema be if we didn’t have The French, American, Asian new wave, Dogme 95 et All the work of mostly auteurs, who wanted something different and put their stamp on it.

While generic (sometimes, widget) commercial filmmaking which is what keeps the doors open and the lights on, Auteur filmmaking is what keeps it an interesting art form and mode of expression, and while there are lots on non-auteurs with interesting and unique work, there is a reason artists like Fela Kuti, Basquiat, Hendrix, Miles Davis, Bob Marley all stand out in their fields, they weren’t just great, they were unique and their work is studied for its contribution.

 

The good news is, Nollywood is still very young, and evolving and can still define its cinematic voice in Nigerian, African and World Cinema.

The change in tone, ambition and production aesthetics in the last 10 years alone is very encouraging, and as filmmakers develop, evolve and transcribe cinematic language; the audiences will be in for a treat; and as technology improves, further democratizing the process by lowering some costs and directors are able to stamp their identity on their films, it will be a very exciting time for the future of Nollywood.

What do you think? Leave a comment and lets discuss.

Naija FilmMakers in diaspora telling their story

Representation in recent years has gotten the attention it’s long been denied, with more demands for diversity on-screen and behind the camera being taken seriously; Wonder Woman getting a female director, Black Panther getting a Black Director, Queen Sugar having all female directors, Donald Glover on Atlanta as; star, writer and Executive Producer. Issa Rae doing the same on Insecure. The idea being creators, directors of the same gender/race of the character are in the best place to tell that story best.

I think this applies to nationality/ethnicity and how they’re portrayed. Hollywood and Western media in general don’t have a good track record of portraying other nationalities. Nigerians in American have always gotten the short end of the stick, as television shows have a certain way of portraying them as criminals, drug mules, voodoo practitioners or goofy comedic stereotype of a naïve or clueless African, when in reality; many are College graduates and highly qualified professionals in Engineering, Law, Medical and other professions.

There’s a growing number of filmmakers of Nigerian heritage, some who immigrated and naturalized and others born in the diaspora (North America & Europe) . These storytellers identity with both worlds, one rooted in their culture/heritage the other in an often contrasting environment they live. They know both sides of the coin and are able to tell stories in a way only they can.  Stories of the immigrant, culture clash, identity, racial politics and much more, with characters who are more than a punchline or token in somebody else’s story.

Nigerian Americans, Yvonne Orji(Insecure) and  Damilare Sonoiki(Black-ish) created First Generation and  African Time respectively, webseries on growing up with immigrant parents and the expectations which come with that. Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar) wrote his lead character in DOPE as the son of a Nigerian Immigrant. British Nigerian Destiny Ekaragha directed Gone Too Far adapted from the Bola Agbaje play about a London born Boy who meets his Lagos born brother and the hijinks which ensue when they hit the streets of South London. South Africa based Akin Omotoso(VAYA) tells the story of a Nigerian man in S.A investigating the death of his brother who death was a Xenophobic attack.  Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George follows a young wife new in the States and under pressure to have a child by any means necessary. All stories requiring that unique worldview.

A proportion of the bad reputations’ deserved, every country has its bad eggs, just as guests on Jerry Springer or Maury aren’t representative of all Americans that’s not the entire story. That’s why in a world where most of the West’s only exposure to Nigerians are email/Nigerian Prince jokes in sitcoms and adverts,  self-narrative is essential .

Rise of the Naija Auteur 3

So it’s been an interesting 9 months, there have been several short film competitions, the biggest being the Afrinolly competition which sent a creative ripple across the world; displaying the film making talents of Nigerians both at home and abroad. The competition managed to bring to light many talented directors, just proving that the future is very bright for Nigerian Cinema.

So many voices doing great things with little budgets; just think what would happen if they weren’t limited and had a good budget to play with

Of the many shorts i’ve seen in this period, two particularly 

LOOP , a mind shagger that will leave u wondering. Written and directed by Stanlee Ohikhuare

BLINK by Tolu Ajayi

When i saw this one is was like WOAHHHHHH, Left me with a big smile on my face cos of how ambitious it was 

Dunno about y’all, but i look forward to the future releases of these two gentlmen.

The Rise of the Naija Auteur

A short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits”.

Shorts have been the means by which upcoming film makers show the world and more specifically the industry what they are capable of doing. Many of the legends of today made short films which enabled them to be recognized and get the opportunity to make feature films. Directors like Speilberg, Scorcese, Chris Nolan ,George Lucas and other went through this path at some point.

I want to dedicate this post to the young film makers from Nigeria.

I won’t write much but i’ll let their work speak for them. You form your own opinions on what they’ve produced. Some of them are based in Nigeria others are outside the country, But they are all Naija Bred .

They vary in genre and tone. Some are socially relevant, some are art house and indie, and others are just entertainment,your opinions on their execution may vary. but they all show something different about their craft and the capabilties and potential of their directors. So
ladies and gentlemen, say hello to The Future

First up SIGNS by London Based SUNNY KING

Follow @IAMSUNNYKING)

Second up WAITING LINES by Lagos Based Daniel Oriahi Follow @Filmic25)

Next up, it’s not a short but a trailer for a feature called BLOOD AND HENNA by Kaduna based KENNETH GYANG, ok yeah, im sneaking this one in 😛

Follow @degyangs

Our first female entry is by Lagos Based TOPE OSHIN OGUN called THE YOUNG SMOKER

Follow @topeoshinogun)

Next ASSAILANT by Lagos based ABIOLA SOBO Follow @abiolasobo)

Ok, this one is a lil long, so if you need a bathroom break, take it now, and grab your pop corn on the way back(WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST OH,Lol)

This is by Lagos based IMOH UMOREN, also known as MAJORBOY titled ALL SORTS OF TROUBLE

Follow @majorboy8

Finally,(for now) a short BLISS by Lagos based OLU YOMI OSOSANYA, yup, moi. You know what they say, charity begins at home. 😉

Follow @oludascribe

As i discover more i’ll put them up and maybe at some point a little interview(maybe oh can’t guarantee), but for now, i hope you enjoy.

Please as you watch go to their YouTube pages, drop your feedback and show some love and for those with IMDB accounts you can go to their pages to vote and review.

The Young Smoker by TOPE OSHIN OGUN
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2107841/

Bliss by OLU OSOSANYA
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1622583/