Pirates use wheelbarrows to sell my new film –Tunde Kelani

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Veteran film maker, Tunde Kelani, threatens not to release movies in Nigeria again as pirates hijack his new film, Maami, AKEEM LASISI reports

At a time celebrated film maker Tunde Kelani should be very happy and laughing all the way to the bank, he is currently a sad man. The usually optimistic producer is indeed downcast and disillusioned. Reason: Maami, a film he released on DVD on Monday,  has been massively pirated.

“This may be the last time I will release a film in Nigeria,” TK said on the phone in an emotional  voice on Thursday. “Our industry is completely gone. I released Maami on Monday. Barely 24 hours after,  pirates are using wheelbarrows to sell it in Lagos.  They have pirated the film such that it has flooded every nook and cranny of Nigeria.  Interestingly, everyone quotes this miracle data about the development of  Nollywood and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product. What a lie! I can’t go on like this. This may be the last time I will release any  film, at least here in Nigeria.”

Years after Kelani finished work on the film that stars Funke Akindele and Olumide Bakare he could not release another one. While he screened it in different parts of the country and beyond, his experience with pirates on his earlier movies that include Arugba and Campus Queen did not encourage him to push Maami out immediately. Now that he has eventually released it, the goons have yet ambushed him.

Also in a statement released by Kelani’s Mainframe Production on Thursday, he  said he was called by fans to draw his attention to the activities of the pirates who recreated the imprints and the jackets of the film, dubbed on cheap DVD for sales. The original copy of Maami, marketed by Ajimson Integrated Services Limited, as mastered on DVD , is contained in a jewel box and is laminated.

Nigerian film industry, he feared, would continue to experience the menace of pirates and investors would suffer due to lack of infrastructure, especially when physical distribution channels are infested by pirates whose dangerous activities are unchecked.

“In the last 10 years, I have tried everything to survive the attacks. I have relied on donors and well- wishers to continue to make films but each time I loose all the investments, therefore I cannot continue to live the rest of my life in this dangerous place called Nigeria.”

So disillusioned is Kelani that he fears for young Nigerians wanting to go into film business.

He explained, “I pity young Nigerians aspiring to become filmmakers and my advice to them is to seek other media if they have the talent or they can go to agriculture because Nigeria one day will need to feed itself. Nigeria that Fela Anikulapo called BBC, the Big Blind Country is finally here.”

Kelani’s story is not different from what many of his colleagues have experienced.  Apart from distribution issues, pirates feast on films and musical works with impunity. The Nigerian Copyright Commission says it is doing its best but this is far from being enough to bring sanity to the sector. So bad has the situation become that many actors, producers and directors are facing hard times, not minding the fame and usual physical glitz they radiate.


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