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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Nollywood: Exuberance @ 20

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While it may seem exciting that we can reach the president without going through their appointees (regulatory agencies), it also negates the principles representation, due process and proper structure that the filmmakers have been crying about

JUST 20 years more to confirm the folly of an industry called Nollywood. It is two decades since the acclaimed first video film, Living in Bondage was made, and indeed, the industry may have passed its formative stages but maturity is still far in sight. And unless another cliché is born to measure the 21st century man, one cannot but make do with the ‘Fool at Forty’ chestnut and see what the next 20 years holds for this notable industry of film quantum in the world.

If the psychological progression of the human person is anything to go by, then age 20 finds succor in the traits of youthful exuberance. Nollywood can be said to be in that equation at the moment. Therefore, if celebrating Nollywood at 20 comes with so much drinking and getting drunk, some rapping and unwanted pregnancies, as well as some tall dreams with little vision, it is indeed understandable.

However, telling a young chap about the dynamics of life and making him see the likely consequences of his actions is the justification left for an elder who must not fail in his responsibilities. Or didn’t they say that what an old man sees sitting, a young man does not see, even when he stands? Nollywood practitioners are too divided to be united. Everyone is pursuing a personal agenda and posterity is watching.

Series of meetings had taken place between President Goodluck Jonathan and representatives of the film industry. By representatives, I mean, few, select members of Nollywood – theoretical and practicing filmmakers. In all of these get-togethers, including those convened by representatives of the president, hardly can one find heads of the regulatory agencies in attendance. Not even the Minister of Information and Communications under whose Ministry the film industry resides.

While it may seem exciting that we can reach the president without going through their appointees (regulatory agencies), it also negates the principles representation, due process and proper structure that the filmmakers have been crying about. This alienation of key officers in an acclaimed business, that is meant to decide the destiny of an industry, is merely reduced to a tea party if you ask me. Otherwise, who took the notes at the last Presidential dinner with Nollywood in Lagos last Saturday? Who will pursue or remind Mr. President of the promises he made that night? Will the industry need another dinner with the president to reiterate what they asked last week? When will another opportunity come for such meeting with Mr. President? Has the president or the presidency done anything on the more articulate, consultative and widely representative parley held with various art and entertainment associations on Monday March 21, 2011 at Eko Hotel & Suites?

At the risk of sounding judgmental, I think the industry people have continued to fuel that perception that has made people to look at them as mere entertainers rather than Showbiz minded men. Hypocrisy is one aspect of what makes politics a dirty game. Therefore, when filmmakers (in our case) ask for an audience with the government, it is for government to watch a shoddy remix of their political antics and get amused than entertained. Worst still, for an unwilling government, divide and rule is just made easy when the filmmakers continue in the disarray and animosity that they are presently in. The guilds are obviously divided. Personal interests are placed above collective goals. It is pitiable when individuals, rather than associations continue to drive the process of engagement between government and the industry. How official can that be? But why will such not happen when the association heads have assumed a political rather than technocratic position? When the leadership fights members over whose right it is to organize Nollywood @ 20, it only fuels the embers of division rather than building bridges.

This Nollywood @ 20 is a series film, and this script will go on for as long as possible. With so many flashbacks in the offing, we shall look at the mud that this 20 year-old boy called Nollywood has brought to present times from his toddling stage. But just before we close this episode, last Saturday, President Goodluck Jonathan at a presidential dinner to celebrate the film industry at 20, promised a N3 billion package to help the movie industry. The event took place at State House, Marina, Lagos.

The president said the package, to be launched as “Project Nollywood”, will include grants for the best film scripts, capacity building and infrastructural development. He said the scheme will be launched in the first week of April, and will be managed by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Jonathan noted that he had invited the private sector to the dinner because he believes that they can also support efforts to further develop the creative industry.

On the previous revolving loan scheme of $200 million (N32 billion), announced by the president in 2010, Jonathan said only N766 million of the money has been accessed by practitioners. He said he has asked NEXIM Bank and the Bank of Industry to redouble their efforts in assisting the industry to access loans.

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