It was a smart move on the part of members of the Project Act Implementation Committee that they met with practitioners of the movie industry up Northern Nigeria called Kannywood last week. There have been high level of apathy by the practitioners there towards the Project Act grant- a N3 Billion intervention grant approved by President Goodluck Jonathan to alleviate the obstacles to the sector’s growth and promote key components along the movie value chain through the provision of grants to support existing or aspiring practitioners within the industry, including those in the Diaspora.
The thinking amongst practitioners in Kannywood is that the grant was not meant for them as much of the interaction on the grant has been between the grant handlers and those categorized as ‘core Nollywood practitioners’. Which is why not a single application has come from Kannywood to either access the capacity building and film production component of the grant since the Project Act Implementation Committee launched the application portal in July. ‘’You know they always say that the fund is meant for Nollywood. Those in charge have had so many meetings with those they know as Nollywood. We are not Nollywood. We are Kannywood. So until the call circular for this meeting, we didn’t know that we are also beneficiaries of the grant by Mr. President’’ a Kannywood practitioner said last week.
And he is right. Much of the interaction on the grant has been between the handlers of the grant and those they recognize as practitioners in Nollywood. Information on the grant has not been able to go round. Even though the handlers of the grant claim that they have been placing notices on the grant in the media and even have a website where people can source information, there are still so many motion picture practitioners who don’t belong to the ‘’circle of those that are recognized as practitioners in Nollywood’’ that are at a lost on how they can access the grant. ‘’This is not how to administer a grant’ an elder practitioner said last week. ‘’Elsewhere information on grants are widely circulated. There is even an office you can go to, to source information. There would have been an office in Lagos, in Kano, in Enugu and in centres where movies are produced in commercial quantities so that people can go and get information and additional information that those newspaper adverts and information on websites don’t contain. You even know some of the grant handlers that you can call and get information from but in this case, the grant handlers are faceless.
Day Ibadan Hosted Stage and Screen Stars
The all glamorous Yoruba Movie Academy Awards (YMAA), which held on March 30 at the prestigious Civic Centre, Agodi Ibadan, Oyo State almost didn’t hold. Lack of sponsorship and the attitude of Corporate Nigeria and officials of the Oyo State government nearly put paid to TundeOshinibosi’s dream of hosting a world -class movie award event that aims at propagating ‘’the great Yoruba culture and race through the popularity of movies in line with the Yoruba agenda for Western Nigeria’’.
In fact the reason the very colourful event that attracted prominent screen and stage personalities eventually held was because Oshinibosi who is popular as Laface had to sell off ‘a property’ to be able to raise the funds to stage the awards. “The major challenge I encountered was funding. It was so alarming and heart breaking experience for me. We had to beg for sponsorship, I had to sell my property (an uncompleted building) at a give-away price of N30m to fund the awards event. We spoke to the government and it took a lot of talking back and forth. I don’t know why we have to sell Yoruba content to a Yoruba speaking state’’ Laface said, days before the award ceremony.
Laface also decried the attitude of the officials of the Oyo State Ministry of Culture and Tourism whom he said didn’t even key into his vision. He had said: ‘’they didn’t key into my vision. Yet, they are supposed to be promoting culture and tourism. We were talking to them for close to a year. But, because of their indifferent attitude, we felt that if we didn’t take a stand and move on, the whole project would flop,” he says.
But the YMAA’s did not flop. It turned out very successful. Observers say it was better than the maiden edition, which enjoyed the support of the Ogun State government. A red carpet session preceded the award ceremony, which saw talents of the Yoruba movie industry picking awards in the different categories.
The award for best comedy actor went to Hafiz Oyetoro who is popular as Saka. The stage and screen actor was named winner for his role in AshiruEjire. The award for most promising actor went to TundeOwokoniran who impressed the YMAA jury in his effort in the movie Penkelemesi while MemunatYunusa was adjudged most promising actress. Memunat got the crest for her effort in the movie Mimiano. Top movie and stage director NijiAkanni continued his screen and stage medal haul as the alumnus of the prestigious Film and Television Institute in India was named best director of the YMAA. NijiAkanni’s directorial chop in the epic movie Aramotu was what earned the University of Ife and Ibadan trained stage and screen director the YMAA directing crest. The movie also received two other awards—that of best cultural movie and best picture. The best picture award is considered the biggest award of any award scheme. So it is a big win for Niji and the Aramotu crew.
Indeed it has been a good release period for the movie Aramotu. It has won more awards and received more nominations than any Yoruba film in the last three years. The movie was voted Best Nigerian Movie at an edition of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). It also received several nominations at that edition of the AMAA including a nomination for the leading actress category. A year later, Aramotu was voted best movie at the second edition of the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF), which held in Lagos in 2011. It has also gone ahead to receive countless nominations at several award schemes in and around the continent.
The award for best editor went to BayoAransiola while the award for best musician in an acting role was awarded to Fuji musician WasiuAlabiPasuma. Wasiu’s performance in IrawoMeji was what impressed the YMAA jury.
The award for best marketer went to foremost movie marketer Olasco Films while the actor of Igbo stock Kelvin Ikedugba was adjudged best cross over act. The best cross over act is given to an actor or actress who acts in a language other than his or her native language. Ikedugba speaks Yoruba fluently even though the stocky actor is Igbo. The other actors in the industry who are non-Yoruba’s but act and speak fluently in Yoruba movies include Clarion Chukwurah, Grace Amah and Charles Okafor.
The next award for the evening was the award for best supporting actress and it went to Joke Muyiwa for her role in Ayitale while popular actor Dele Odule got the best supporting actor crest for his role in Feranmi. The cinematographer Richie Richie got the best cinematography award, while the awards for best actor and best actress in a lead role went to OdunladeAdekola and FathiaBalogun respectively.
But it was not only the active players that were honoured at the award ceremony. Some pioneers of the industry were also honoured. This year the organizers honoured the late DuroLadipo, the late Kola Ogunmola, late star actress BisiKomolafe, Professor AkinwunmiIsola, Chief Adebayo Faleti and Chief Lanre Hassan aka Mama Awero.
It was an elated Oshinibosi who remarked after the award ceremony that in spite of the attitude of corporate Nigeria and government officials, he would not be frustrated into giving up his vision of contribution to the socio-cultural development of the Yoruba race. ‘’I have facilitated trips by international pop stars, such as Wyclef, ShakaDemus and Pliers, the late Lucky Dube and Naughty by Nature to Nigeria in the past and so I cant see why I cannot use that connection and link to better my race. So this is like giving back to my roots-the Yoruba race’’ he enthused. . Oshinibosi, who said he will start early planning for the 2015 edition also stated that his vision is to help organize a Yoruba movie industry that will become a force to reckon with in Africa and the Diaspora. “I have a dream that the Yoruba movie industry will become a global entertainment brand and will not have to continue to plead for recognition, even within its own region, the South West. I have a dream that the governments of the South West, through their respective culture and tourism ministries, will see the Yoruba movie industry as a major platform for strategic investment’’ he said.