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.