LETTER TO GREGORY ODUTAYO…..THE PROBLEM WITH NOLLYWOOD. BY JAIYEOLA AJASA.

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LIGHTS….CAMERA….What you notice in Nollywood is the lack of sustainable ACTION. When Will Smith, played the Nigerian forensic pathologist, Bennet Omalu, he mimicked the Nigerian accent albeit in a hilarious way. When Idris Alba starred in Beast Of No Nation, the movie based on the 2005 novel of Uzodinma Iweala. The movie was shot in Ghana. To make a Nigerian blockbuster movie we have to travel all over the world but Nigeria. We fake the American accent and are ashamed to speak with the accent God Almighty gave us. We have a movie industry that refuses to take the road less travel. How do we expect people to find us when we run away from ourselves?

One word to describe Nollywood: fantasy. One word to describe the Nigerian movie industry: chaotic. The Nigerian movie industry like I stressed above lacks identity. We celebrate what has become a pathetic caricature of Hollywood. Lost on the Nigerian filmmaker is the term art for the sake of art. Where is the social responsibility to make the country better through the lens of the movie maker? The problem sir is not that our movies are predictable. The problem is we have an industry where mediocrity is celebrated to high Heavens. Everybody plays a leading role and every star is a superstar. Our films lack culture and do not tell the Nigerian story. It has become a buyer’s market because we have failed to identify our target audience. In trying to be Americans we have become more Yankee than the Americans themselves. There is awfully too much sex and unnecessary violence displayed in our movies. This has managed to squeeze the pleasure and patronage out of decent Nigerians. The risque is bilious. What we are being inundated with in the name of movies is a travesty. A charade of convoluted panegyrics that the world would not buy from us. Where is the common sense in most of these movies? Where is the verisimilitude? We see a genre that has lost its moral compass. Nollywood is an embodiment of the film industry. What we see is self-delusion and self-mythology. The portrayal of art and dialectics is not entertainment. It is melodramatic and way too supernatural to be taken seriously.

Pardon my language, I am not here to excoriate good movie makers like you and Kunle Afolayan. But the truth is that what we have in the industry is a failure to launch. The good old days was not capitalized on. We did not take advantage of the Hubert Ogunde, Eddie Ugboma and Ola Balogun legacy. I am treading cautious to avoid coming across as an armchair critic. Which I am. LOL. We spend millions to make the movie but not a cent is invested on the technology to battle the pirates. They boldly prowl the streets and have become a colossus that bestride the filmmaking world. It is a topic that the government is seen meandering around. Obviously, those in power are not interested in the plight of the filmmakers because they are not invested in the industry. Or is the movie maker expecting too much from a government saddled with its own myriads of problems? No doubt it has been a rough transition. A case of a few masterworks and an avalanche of duds. Creating an industry devoid of form, style and organization. We have only three marketers for the whole country. Film one , Silverbird and Blue Pictures. Figurine by Afolayan and Beyond Blood are few of the movies regarded as marking a major turnaround of the contemporary Nigerian Cinema and a steady return of the cinema culture in Nigeria. We have come a long way from Papa Ajasco by Wale Adenuga which grossed 61,000 Naira in 1984. A year later Mosebolatan by Moses Olaiya made 101,000 Naira. Last year the Nigerian movie industry grossed over 126 billion Naira. But unless until we take the road less traveled and learn to be ourselves in our movies. All this efforts will be anticlimactic. MY TWO CENTS FROM A DISTANCE

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