Friday, February 15, 2013

Abuja Agog For ZUMA 2012

Event Themed To Connecting People By Al-Amin Ciroma Sunday 6th May, 2012, marked yet the opening ceremony of yet another edition of the nation’s biennial film festival, the Zuma. Over the years, the event has attracted filmmakers, professionals and stakeholders, film enthusiasts and practitioners of the motion picture industry in and around the country. One can judge that each edition passing, Zuma Film Festival (ZFF) has made remarkable strides with a consistent growth pattern and heightened participation profile, robustly attesting to its flagship status in the country and equally reinforcing Nigeria’s enviable profile as the largest film market in Africa. This year’s edition, which is the 6th came with ministerial promises with Mr. Labaran Maku, the nation’s Minister of information has assured film practitioners of the acceleration of the functionality of the much anticipated national film fund. The minister told excited participants at the opening ceremony of the event, that he pushed to ensure a quick consideration of the film fund policy by the federal executive council, through the resilience of film practitioners for the growth of the motion picture industry. Earlier, in his goodwill message, the minister has said the performance of the Nigerian film industry has continue to elicit positive comments from well meaning and candid assessors on the giant strides recorded in the history of motion picture development in Nigeria. He said, from the forces of sheer determination and a creative endowment, an industry that has become a source of great national pride was created. “It is to the credit of resilient and ardent film practitioners in the Nigerian motion picture industry that we now have a truly indigenous exportable product ranked by UNESCO as the second most important product after petroleum in Nigeria. “I therefore commend the vision and assiduity of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), the organisers of Zuma film festival for sustaining an event that serves as veritable rendezvous to celebrate such indomitable spirit of enterprises and rallying point for domestic and international filmmakers and enthusiasts alike to network and showcase audiovisual products that have heightened Nigeria’s global status as a foremost film destination and Africa’s production hub.” Said Mr. Maku. He also assured the motion picture professionals that the Goodluck Jonathan administration is convinced that Nigeria has the rich cultural base to lead the world and is committed through its transformational agenda to vigorously pursue the policy an legal needed to assert the veracity of the film medium as patent tool for cross-cultural integration as succinctly captured by this year’s theme of Zuma Film Festival, “The Human Story: Connecting People.” In his welcome remarks, the Managing Director, NFC, Mr. Afolabi Adesanya said that their preparation for the 6th edition was significantly boasted by the gracious acceptance of the president to the Grand Patron of the Zuma Film Festival. According to him, this is a confirmation of the present administration’s support for the Nigerian film industry and the objectives of the festival. Mr. Adesanya said the event will be graced with the annual film lecture, titled, ‘Filmmaker as a social realist and cultural advocate.’ Adding that the theme was chosen to identify with the nation’s present dynamics and project the potency of film to grapple with it. He said, “I am particularly enthralled by the new waves of collaboration that birthed the idea of the colloquium on meeting the vast challenges of the Nigerian film industry at this edition. My excitement stems from the support we have received from other agencies who are convinced the industry deserves more attention than it us getting at the moment to take its pride of place in the comity of filmmaking nations.” Said the NFC boss. Top highlights of the event were conferment of lifetime achievement award to some eminent personalities, among them, His Royal Highness, Oba Sany Dosunmu, the Olu of Owu Kingdom of Abeukuta, Ogun State, who lead two others, Professor Jonathan Hayness and Mane Cisneros Manrique to received the coveted award. Oba Dosunmu waz honoured for his notable contributions as foremost contributions to the growth of the Nigerian motion picture industry, Hayness was honored for his endless contribution to the growing and the giant industry in Africa. While Manrique was also accorded with the lifetime achivement award for the organisation of film festivals dedicated to the projection of the works of African filmmakers, domestic and in the Diaspora. Also commenting on the event, the festival director, Halima Oyelade says the ZFF has fles Nigeria’s cinematic muscle and proved to be a rendezvous for celebral celebration of Nigeria’s rich cinematic cultural heritage. She pointed out that the general excitement which has gripped Nigerians and film enthusiasts knows no bounds. The festival, according to her, has surely met all its expectations. The four day event ended up with grand dinner and award night where so many prominent Nigerians graced the event. His Excellency, Katsina State Governor, Barrister Shehu Shema was accorded with an award for being the best governor that supports the growth of entertainment industry in Nigeria and national development. The Information Minister, Labaran Maku highlighted that Nollywood has become a source of national pride. So many film professional received award of excellence, with Tunde Kelani, aka TK emerged as the best director for his film, ‘Maami.’ Also honoured is an aced journalist Shuaibu Hussein of Guardian Newspapers as the Best Film Journalist, 2012. ___________ Published in LEADERSHIP (May 2012)


I Want To Be Remembered For My Positive Legacies -Soultan Soultan Abdul started singing at an early age of 11, way back in Arabic school in Kaduna where he learn the skills of Arabic notes which is mostly found in his vocal style. He became a strong and versatile performing musician. His first demo was recorded in Kaduna, which he brought to Lagos in his quest for limelight. He got signed on to salt records in 1998 with a hit single titled, ‘Any how you want it,’ which received a massive airplay on both radio and Television stations. This created a platform that got him nominated to take part in the team song for the under 21 world cup, tagged, Nigeria 99, which he did in an outstanding manner, singing the Hausa lines. However, his debut album which was to be released under his maiden record label was aborted, following some difficulties encountered by the record company as at that time. Meanwhile, his outstanding performance in the world cup team song, including other top Nigerian artiste like Sir Shina Peters, Stella Monye, Orits Wiliki got him recognized and signed by another record label, Cowrie music, owned by Orits Wiliki. After 2 years with Cowrie music, Soultan moved from Lagos back to Kaduna where he recorded another hit single with Ibro Records. His single, ‘Nigerian girl’ became popular in the north, also ‘Tazama,’ which got him performing in events. Meanwhile, He had to come back to Lagos which is the centre base of Nigerian music industry, where he met other producers including James Elukpo who made most his production arrangements as he dishes out several song expected in his forthcoming album. These includes ‘Halima,’ produced by Emeka Phat-E, featuring Buckwylla, and ‘Welcome to the club,’ produced by Kesh, featuring Ruggedman, which are already making waves on the media network. Other producers he has worked with includes Rymzo, Kani, J-Adict, etc. The videos were shot and directed by Bobby Hai of Sauti Cenemaz who is currently managing his affairs under Sauti Phasaha group. In this brief chat with AL-AMIN CIROMA, the Soultan, a.k.a The Prince of North bares his mind about his experience in the music industry and way of life: Excerpt: Please share with us your experience in the industry. My experience in the music circle has always been very challenging. Challenging in the sense that one has to work hard to remain on the spotlight. I do my song-writings and arrangements at times with the help of my producers, who ensure me successes and stuffs like that. They help in supporting the use and application of proper instrumentations to get the right and well-meaning end result. It’s also been very interesting and full of fun as you get to meet with great artiste, performers and producers. What genre do your music fall into? My music is a blend of traditional Hausa music with a fusion of the more than English brand of music. Artistes are known for their unique dress code or emblem. We also know a little about your uniqueness. What is your general style? (Laughter) I have a style that is unique with its kind of flavour. I sing about reality, love, peace, inspirational to motivate the weak to be strong, for the hopeless to have hope. etc. My uniqueness in dressing is outstanding, especially this special cap made of material that looks like a Giraffe skin. I wear it with passion and with anything I choose to wear, depending on the outing, but my major brand of costume of regalia is the local ‘Kaftan’ like kind of attire made from ‘Shadda’ materials, brocade, etc. There are so many intrigues and misconceptions about artistes to the extend some people stigmatise them. Do you also experience such with your people? Artiste or musicians are usually seen different from normal everyday people. They are kind of different professions, but that depends on what you do and how you do it, depending on values you attach to your content of philosophy in what you do musically, and as for me Alhamdulillah, it’s been rewarding because I have chosen to be a worthy ambassador and the society takes me as I am. How many albums have you released so far and which one is your blockbuster? I have five recorded CDs later. And have worked with great people like. Lemy Jackson, Segun Samuel Bashegs, OJB Jezreel, Rymzo, Orits Williki, Shina Peters, Phat E, James Elukpo, Ibrahim Yunusa, my C.E.O, Idris Usman Freshkid Bcbby Haph Kesh and host of others. My biggest break was my performance on the theme song for world cup hosted by Nigeria tagged: “NIG 99.” I sang the Hausa alongside Shina Peter, Mike Okri, Orits Wiliki; my boss, etc, beside that I had a song tittled, ‘Duniya Labari,’ ‘Tazama,’ ‘Nigerian Girl,’ ‘Assalamu alaikum,’ etc. What are your aspirations? My aspirations are a million tonnes in one simple word; to achieve greatness, to build an empire that will positively affect generations after generations. What are you working on now? Presently am working hard to promote my new CD which features great stars like RUGGEDMAN in a song titled ‘Salamu alaikum,’ which the video was shot n directed by Bobby Hai, and a song titled ‘Halima’ ft BUCKWYLLA video also shot and directed by Bobby Hai and my main joker a song titled ‘ABOKI PARTY’ ft BOBBY HAI video shot n directed by Bobby Hai. I will like to tell my fans that this project is massive, so they can be rest assured they won't be disappointed. What would you like to be remembered for? I want to be remembered for my powerful messages and positive legacies. What are your advices to the northerners, most especially the upcoming artistes? My advice to northerners is that we need and have to put the interest of the region at heart and to uphold it up high, to regain its integrity, credibility and dignity. We have to make peace and unity a basement and also the pillar in which we stand to project, protect and move forward, Nigeria is one and indivisible entity GOD will help us but we must help ourselves. To the upcoming artistes, they should keep up to their producers’ words and be very well committed with interest and objective minds. They should know that nothing good comes easy, so they should be prepared, get yourself educated it will help harness your talent and open your mind to the realities of life. Never be retarded by any jinx, it takes bravery to conquer and strength, courage to rise when you fall because the world is a jungle but we all will survive it. And to your fans... To my fans, you are a source of inspiration to me because knowing you are there makes me more creative and determine to create and make good music jus to keep you satisfied. I really appreciate your care love and appreciation for me, ‘Allah Ya bar zumunci, na gode.’ _______________________ Published in LEADERSHIP

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Actors Don’t Remain With One Lady For Long -Nafisa

Born and raised in Jos, Plateau State, Nafisa Abdullahi is one of those faces you always see popping up on the big or small screen as far as Kannywood home video is concerned, and you invariably find yourself asking, “Wasn’t she the queen and star of ‘Sai Wata Rana',? a movie that really became the test of time, and you would be right. Also referred to as ‘Sai Wata Rana’ by her teeming fans, Nafisa made her film debut in 2009, in Sani Mu’azu’s ‘Haaja,’ and literally continued to earn her stripes to date. Recently, the beautiful, actress was honoured with Best Actress Award by The Young Northerners For Excellence, at the prestigious Arewa House, Kaduna. The award, according to her is the best thing that made her dream come to reality. In this interview with AL-AMIN CIROMA, Kannywood’s own Preity Zinta' discussed her experience in Kannywood and issues bordering scandals in the industry. Excerpts:

When I first watched ‘Sai Wata Rana,’ I kept wondering and thinking of some Bollywood stars, Pretty Zinta, Rani Mukherjee, etc. Your performance was absolutely remarkable.
Oh, I like hearing that! I am thankful to God who gave me the courage to deliver my lines and to my producer/director, Ali Nuhu for helping me come out victorious. I really enjoyed the set of ‘Sai Wata Rana,’ it made me camera-friendly. I have passion for show biz, I love it and I love what I am doing. I also believe any other person could’ve done better. So yes, I’ll take your statement as a compliment, thank you! (Laughs).

Tell us about your first experience on set
(Inhales deeply) filming, like I said earlier is an obsession, kind of fixation deep inside me, I have been nursing it for a while, although my parents wanted me entirely on another platform, but I believe this is my destiny. Presently, I am studying Theatre Arts in Unijos (University of Jos). One can agree with me that in all aspects of life, there has to be a beginning and an end. My coming into show biz was like a dream come true, kind of. Acting for camera is heroic you know. I felt like the whole world is watching me, I really had to put myself together to face the challenges, having in mind that I am doing what I love most and thank God, I made it and it is now part of me.

When you came into the industry, did you have any misgivings about acting for camera choice?
Why? No! I had no doubts about my chosen career because I was determined and I know I will make it since it is my talent. Acting is not just something you can pretend about, it is either you have the talent or you don’t. I don’t see any reason someone will force himself or herself into something he or she was not born to be.

Your resume has an incredibly diverse mixture of professionalism and skillfulness and as a student of Theatre art, how do you access the Hausa home video produced in Kannywood?
That’s something that would be worth spending a little time talking about. Although as a student, I should have my limitations, but I think Kannywood is coming up, they are gradually bridging the gap. Professionally, the Hausa movies are quite appealing and everybody is now engaged in collective efforts. Go to the locations and see for yourself, the production crew are doing exactly what is expected. Sound mangers, line producers, lighteners, directors of photography, cameramen, etc. name them; everybody is doing his work professionally. Unlike before where you see a producer with a kind of ‘jack of all trades’ format of operation. Kannywood has incredibly gone international and above all, the stories appeal to all ages.
It’s very noteworthy that most of us in the industry are beginning to learn all these trends and that’s what makes our work go international. This effort is really commendable. I can now tell you that Hausa filmmakers are considerably bubbling to the international arena.

Am I right to consider Nafisa as an A-list Kannywood actress?>(Laughs) A star is a star, it depends on how you see it, A-list or not. It doesn’t hide.

You just got an award. How do you feel, are you fulfilled?
I thank God at least people have recognised this effort. And I see this award as a stepping stone, as if to say: ‘Hey, Nafisa tighten up and face challenges.’ Again, I am happy in the sense that I am beginning to see the light in my profession. I feel delighted to be part of the blockbuster, ‘Sai Wata Rana,’ which earned me this great award.

What makes you think this is a break-through?
(Laughs) I believe in God. I thank Him for His favours. I pray hard to remain myself (laughs), at least things are good on my side. Alhamdulillah (Thank God).

Can you please spell the character behind your person?
Nafisa is a simple and down to earth girl. I love myself; respect my parents, elders and colleagues. I believe all success comes through these windows. I want to use this opportunity to tell my fans that all roles we play in the movies are make-believes. They are not real, we try our best with the aid of the directors and translate the roles. So, Nafisa is simple, very obedient and accommodating. My fans should not define me by my characters in the movies. I am as plain as everybody and I love you all. (Laughs)

Show business is a kind of rendezvous where things happen the way they happen. Some artistes are involved in series of scandals, while others may be victims of favouritism and stuff like that. Were you involved in any show of shame since you made your debut?
None, I have never been involved in any scandal whatsoever.

I want you to be honest because this is a very sensitive question. Is it true that you once encountered heartbreak in the industry...?
(Inhales again) No! Umm... yes! It is true, I once fell in love with one of the artistes in Kannywood, but as usual, stars hardly stick to one particular girl, so it crashed. It was painful though, but I have been kind of preparing myself. I’ve been taking the pains in my stride. I find it quite amusing reading about some scandals on pages of dailies or magazines. So I just kind of let it be.

Any mastermind?
(Laughs) No, no! Some things are better left unexplained, most especially one’s privacy. It used to hurt, but I am good now. No more reoccurrence. I won’t give in anymore!

As beautiful and sultry as you are, were you ever harassed by a producer/director or top actor for favours?
No, I don’t believe in that, although so many things are happening under the sun. It happens in schools, banks, etc. It does not only happen in the Hausa film industry.

I want to ask you straight, how do you wriggle out of such situations and were you ever tempted?
(Laughs) Please, please stop it. I won’t be tempted Insha Allah. God is in control.

But have you had an encounter with an actor who wanted favours from you for roles?
No, never!

You mean if a handsome man winks at you invitingly you won’t respond?
(Laughs) I have total control of myself and I pray a lot, simple!

A word to your colleagues and fans.
To my colleagues, we should work hard to maintain our stardom and respect each other’s feelings. My fans, I love you all. Without you, definitely, I won’t be here, so keep praying for me. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pacesetting: CCDP Transforming ‘Nupewood’

It was sincerely meant to be a faction from the northern film industry widely known as Kannywood because the movies produced in the north are predominantly in a local Hausa dialect, making the industry one of the largest in sub Saharan Africa. It blossomed to trigger the invention and reinvention of other ethnic group debuts with ‘wood’ as the tag to show affiliation.

Kannywood is purely Hausa speaking, depicting the culture of the people and loved by other Hausa speaking countries like, Niger, Ghana and Chad.

One of the tags that came out of Kannywood is ‘Nupewood.’ While the former is in the forefront producing home videos in Hausa language, the latter is producing in Nupe language. The Nupe film industry dates back to the year 2005 with the production of a tragic comedy titled, Teacher Yekondunu, by Mazariyya films. The hit movie became the floodgate of Nupe movies that is widely distributed in Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Lagos, Kaduna, and Kano states and even outside Nigeria.

The tonic of these productions is the music genre. Unlike Bollywood and Kannywood that music and film are fused as one, ‘Nupewood’ has both as independent of each other. This was made manifest during the 2011 presidential campaigns of the PDP.

Another eye-catching side to this phenomenon is the music of Clean Videos Production, Nanvo Yizheci, by Abubakar N. Kutigi. His has the verve and sonority of a masculine vocalist garnished with profound lyrics of traditional oratory. Abubakar’s campaign songs attracted a lot of attention and provided useful catch points in the minds of the high and mighty.

These impacts metamorphosed into the call for capacity building by Hon. Mohammed Sani Kutigi few months after the elections. According to him, raw talents should be harnessed and projected. Hon. Sani believes that quality knowledge of a vocation entrenches self worth, material independence and productivity for an egalitarian society.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, one of the beneficiaries, Sadisu Mohamed shed more light on the mode of selection by the sponsor of Constituency Capacity Development Programme (CCDP). He said, “Hon. Sani Muhammad Kutigi barely knows any of us. He made no fuss of his intention up to the time we departed Nigeria. Only Abubakar N. Kutigi had met him before our departure.

“Until now, we knew nothing of the hassles of our trip. Everything was done for us. This is a rare disposition in Nigeria. First of its kind and can hardly be copied.”

Also speaking on their first experience at the institute, Abubakar N. Kutigi, said they were received on arrival by the Director and CEO of International Animation and Media Academy (IAM), Aaron Ong. “It was really fun. Our plane touched down at the Kuala Lumpur Airport at 6pm (Malaysian Time), Mr. Ong drove us straight to the beautiful KL Central area of Malaysia’s capital.

As we moved into a lift to the 8th floor of a fifteen-storey building that housed our apartment, our anxiety grew as my eyes locked with Abubakar’s and swiftly moved to the already fixed ones of Adamu. We entered our apartment with our hearts in our mouths. The place is heaven on earth. Completely a home for leisure with pleasurably stationed gadgets for home study and research. Our host took us out for dinner…. The rest is history.” He said.

What is new? At the IAM, the three CCDP beneficiaries were cut in by their well determined and high spirit to explore and satisfy their curiosities. Teacher Yekondunu said, “In less than an hour, we were taken around the spacious and architecturally marvelous academy. There was an assemblage of state of the art equipments as well as a multitude of ready experts. Introductions were made quite briefly.

“There was also a hot encounter. An impromptu class-test on digital imaging and film making! The aim was to assess our previous knowledge on film-making. In the end, Abubakar N. Kutigi topped in digital imaging while I took the lead in digital film-making. Adamu was pegged at infantry level requiring thorough drilling in the nitty-gritty of film-making.’’

What was the shocker a? This question was swiftly answered by Kutigi, saying, a special class was organized for them by the IAM boss himself, “A multi-media class to x-ray to us the dynamics of movie making. Aaron shocked us when he announced that samples of our movies he had watched lack the entire ingredients of a real movie. From script to production; camera techniques to post production, we watched and listened breathlessly to the animation and 3D guru of international repute Aaron Ong as he took us through the steps of high-class movie-making with ease.”

The three Nupe youths created a niche for themselves at the IAM ahead of many foreigners and students in their class. They were commended by all. Abubakar N. Kutigi’s mastery in Fruity Loops and Sonar Software’s in composing music thrilled all.

The two-hour contact with Aaron, according to them has remained the most memorable since their arrival. “Mr. Ong once said to us, ‘I will customize your programme based on your previous knowledge” said Mohammed.

Their success story? The three wonderful Nupewood ambassadors have been exposed to the world of movie realism with copious examples from works carried out by IAM Academy. It will be recalled that Hollywood’s The Kingmaker had all its special effects and animation designs done in IAM Academy. The movie became a guide and reference for our lectures. Emphasis was place on the pattern through which most of the effects were achieved.

“It is worthy of note to state that lectures are both theories and practical on same equilibrium,” noted Adamu Baba Abdullahi.

Adding that they have so far shot a number of scenes as test exercises like the one we titled The Loop, a 5-minute non-dialogue movie of magical realism that starred all the students as cast while he did the shoot.

“The art of doing a story-board for movie before going into production is where we are now. It is such a wide field that appears to be the secret of most Hollywood blockbusters,” said Abdullahi.

What next? How time flies! The eager-beavers have already spent a month out of their 90 days stay at the IAM. Their classes were meant to last for a month. The second month shall be individual application of knowledge acquired so far via practical. A short film, documentary and a musical video are the projects before them now.

What would be the final package?

The boost this training will give the emerging Nupewood may be unquantifiable. No doubt, arbitrariness will be a thing of the past. The knowledge shall not be monopolised. They shall impart on other budding practitioners to heighten professionalism, by implication, their movies will wear new looks of exceptional quality and patronage will consequently swell. Youthful exuberance and restiveness will decline and the society will be better for it. Nigerian motion picture industry is surely on the forefront to the climax. Only time will tell.
Published in my LEADERSHIP WEEKEND Column, December 3, 2011.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Solace For Filmmakers In Kutigi Constituency

Al-Amin Ciroma, Abuja

Some emerging film practitioners in Kutigi, Edati and Mokwa are after being made happy beneficiaries of the Hon. Sani Idris Kutigi special programme on constituency empowerment. The programme, according to him, is the first of its kind, he said his zeal is to empower his constituents as well as give hope to the under privileged. The package, Constituency Capacity Development Programme (CCDP), is aimed at empowering teeming youths in the society.

While answering questions to newsmen, Hon. Kutigi said after a careful observation, he found out that the best that can be done to a society with promising youths is to impact in them wealth of experience in their related fields of knowledge.
“I am optimistic that this programme will go along way in creating job opportunities and professionalism in the society. Having seen the trends in the world as far as digital inclination is concerned, I want my constituency to be the first to lead others in all fields of proficiency and I am happy to announce that this programme is the first of its kind,” he said.

CCDP, according to the originator, is going to be a continuous exercise and that in the first category, it started with filmmakers and subsequently other practitioners in various fields.

Also speaking, the programme coordinator, Muhammad Dahiru explained that the filmmakers, who were randomly selected with the Hon. Kutigi constituency, are Sadisu Muhammad, a.k.a ‘Teacher Yekundunu,’ Prince Chado Ahmed and Mohammed Ndaku Kutigi. They have successfully gained admission to study film related matters and digital animation at the International Animation and Media Academy (IAM) Malaysia, which is one of the world’s leading animation firms meticulously designed and critiqued by industry experts (such as producers, directors and visual effects artists) from Hollywood, Asia and Europe.

The three months sponsored programme, according to Mohammed will give them a good balance to lay their hands in the most recent software and equipment in the visual effects and animation. “Hon. Sani Kutigi has opened a window to the lives of the underpriviledge in the society, this is also a chance for the beneficiaries to also acquire City and Guild certificates, which is the best recognition a professional will yearn for world wide,” said Dahiru.

The beneficiaries thanked the honourable member for the kind gesture and urged his colleagues to emulate this humanitarian obligation, saying that this will go along way in regenerating the society and will also help in restructuring the youths, who are the future leaders.

Hon. Sani, who is the son of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Idris Kutigi, won National Assembly election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a total of 125,924 votes, which made him the member of the National Assembly that won with such a high number.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kannywood Was Fully Transformed Under My Tenure – Mu’azu

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Malam Sani Mu’azu is the outgoing National President, Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), who is about to complete his second consecutive term in office as its chief executive. MOPPAN as the umbrella of filmmaking business in the North has a wide spectrum and membership across the Hausa film industry practitioners and stakeholders.

Just before the commencement of the transition process into new MOPPAN executives in the forthcoming national convention of the association, Mu’azu comprehended some of his laudable achievements in office. He said, although his tenure was full of ups and downs and legal battles between various members of his association and the Kano State Censorship Board (KSCB), he was able to take the Hausa film industry to the next height, adding that his cabinet dedicated its time in protecting the interest of members of MOPPAN, where they fought the Director-General, KSCB, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem in various court cases. Notable among them were cases between Hamisu Lamido Iyantama (Producer) and the case instituted by the Kaduna Filmmakers Association against Malam Abubakar Rabo for alleged defamation of character. He said, “Although, we came in at a time, at the Kannywood was facing a lot of controversies and hullabaloos, we succeeded in taking the industry to the next level. What we did at our foremost mandate was to create awareness. You know a filmmaker ought to have at least a fair bit of intellectuality. So, we embarked on trainings. Also, a series of capacity building has been taken care of, since 2007, MOPPAN engaged it’s members in so many workshops, conferences and so on. Notable among them was development filmmaking organised by our association in conjunction with the French Embassy, who sponsored professionals from across the globe to train the stakeholders in modern filmmaking.” He said.

Mu’azu reiterated that his team also played an important role in making festivals relevant to the stakeholders. According to him, a lot of filmmakers enjoyed mass campaign by his team to attend festivals and professional skills acquisition workshops. “Before we came in, there was hardly a Hausa filmmaker attending festivals, workshops or other film-related events, where hosts of filmmakers come together to share opinions, but with our campaigns and continuous interactions with MOPPAN affiliate members, they have come to understand and since then festivals and events have become very much pertinent to them. A lot of them are now attending BOB TV, shoot training series, and so on.”

In a related development, the outgoing MOPPAN scribe, also commended his cabinet for giving him all the support needed to discharge his duties. He acknowledge the fact that under his regime, MOPPAN was fully recognised by the two top most regulatory bodies in the entertainment industry in Nigeria; the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), adding that, “We have identified with the NFVCB’s national distribution framework where we enlightened our members on the importance of the framework. MOPPAN has also promoted Kannywood to a national brand by working hand-in-hand with NFC and all other government agencies in film related matters.

The most outstanding achievement recorded by his regime according to the MOPPAN chief executive was the African International Film Resource Centre proposed by his cabinet. “We are very happy to announce that in our bid to see that Kannywood becomes one of the greatest industries in Nigeria to meet up global challenges, we did a thorough survey and study to come up with a proposal for establishing a film resource centre in Kano where we identified Tiga as the proposed site for the project, considering the serene environment and peaceful atmosphere and we hope the Kano state government will now revisit the proposal which suffered set back from the DG-KSCB, Malam Rabo, who feels it is a waste of resoruces.”

Apart from the proposed film village by MOPPAN, Sani Mu’azu also reflected national issues covered by his administration, he said, MOPPAN has written its name with golden pen at the national parley by Nigeria’s movie stakeholders, which took place in Lagos, last year. He said, “In making Kannywood a national player, MOPPAN has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Coalition of Nollywood Guilds and Association (CONGA), which aims at bringing all professional and non-professional guilds and associations in the motion picture industry in Nigeria under one roof to fight a common objective. Kannywood is now one of the members of this great union.”

The most lucrative and beneficial stride of his tenure, according to him was collaboration of MOPPAN with National Primary Health Care (NPHC) last year, to embark on mass campaign on primary health care diseases, “It was during our tenure that MOPPAN gained yet another recognition to sign an MoU with NPHC in the quest of creating awareness to health issues pertaining primary health care. We invited movie scripts from producers within MOPPAN, which will create awareness to the public on primary health care. The scripts were screened and sponsored by NPHC to commence production. Without saying much, this is quite a step forward for Kannywood,” he said.

Asked whether he encountered limitations or restrictions in the two four year terms, Malam Sani said, the most challenging aspect of his administration was lack of funding with little or no sponsorship. “We have suffered lack of sponsorship. At a point, we continued operating from our. The only support we got was from the cultural department of the French Embassy. Apart from that, the most exigent was the fact that we were being surrounded by court cases here and there and above all, some misconceptions by other stakeholders in the game,” he pointed out.

What are his aspirations and ambitions after this? The eloquently spoken Mu’azu, who is also an actor said he would dedicate himself to his personal project after this mission and if possible, register himself as one of the founding fathers of MOPPAN. “After this mission, I would have enough time to execute my personal projects, which suffered when I was MOPPAN president, you know, you can’t be everywhere, as a leader then, the activities of MOPPAN must have consumed my time, but when I am relieved, I would concentrate on my personal projects and field works,” he concluded.

What are his goals as the outgoing national president of MOPPAN? Mu’azu said his major concern is who will succeed him, “I am very much confident that MOPPAN will go places if, and only if the administration that will succeed us will continue from where we stopped and even go beyond us positively. So, I would want the members to think twice in electing the next president. They should look for a credible and trustworthy person to continue from where we stopped.”

To this end, there is so much 'tub-thumping' and scheming going on about the MOPPAN presidency. Will the delegates adhere to the primary decision agreement of zoning as it was before or will the show be a pied-a-terre format? The biggest question still remains, who is going to succeed the throne at the forthcoming MOPPAN national convention scheduled to hold in Minna, the Niger State capital soon? Only time will tell.

Published in my weekly Kannywood Column in (Leadership Weekend) of Saturday June 05, 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

NOLLYWOOD IN CANNES: World’s Second Best, Zero Impact

“The value of a man is what he does expertly and the mystery of existence is the connection between our faults and our misfortunes.” -Imam Ali bn Abi-Talib (as)

The celebrated Nigerian motion picture industry, Nollywood is currently the second largest film producer in the world with stars that cut across the shores of the continent yet, unable to join their counterparts from Hollywood, Bollywood and other notable film industries from other countries in participating and competing for the coveted prizes and other attractions of the prestigious Festival de-Cannes. None of Nollywood’s movies were accredited for screening at the main bowl of the world’s most populous film festival.

Every year, the Nigerian government spends huge amount of money and resources to rent a pavilion plus ester codes for the powerful delegation to represent the nation. Although it has successfully acquired a grand stand at the international village with its flag flying. From inception, one may quickly say it was a significant thing that happened to the giant of Africa for obtaining the unique Pavilion 111 at the International Village. The pavilion which is located next to the Cinemas du Suud of the Southern French Cinema was acquired by the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and became home to the all other regulatory bodies, stakeholders and practitioners in the country’s motion picture industry.

However, with all these structures on ground, none of the movies or practitioners made breakthroughs to the great event or even outside the competition. Movie stars and stakeholders from Nigeria are simply unknown at Cannes as none of their products were available at the Marche du Film (film exhibition centre). Of course Africa and other Nigerian communities in the Diaspora celebrate with optimism and cheer Nollywood stars everywhere they go but what really counts is breaking the ice and making heads turn at the Cannes International Film Festival or Oscars and not at the usual local Silverbird galleria in Abuja or Lagos.

Nigerian filmmakers therefore need to aim at shattering the highest glass ceiling as South African stars have done for decades by winning Oscars. Cinematographer, Ted Moore (1914–1987) was the first South African to win an Oscar in 1967, when he also won the BAFTA for Robert Bolt’s magnificent film, A Man for All Seasons. He was from Benoni, the same town as actress Charlize Theron the first South African actor to win an Oscar in 2004 for Monster, her gripping role of serial killer, Aileen Wuornos was described as “one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema” by the highly esteemed American film critic and screenwriter, Roger Ebert, the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Other Oscar winning South Africans are: Ronald Harwood who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the multiple award winning movie, The Pianist in 2003 and his other screenplay The Diving Bell and The Butterfly had four Oscar nominations in 2007. And Gavin Hood who got the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film with Tsotsi in 2005.

To say the least, going to Cannes for the Nigerian filmmakers and its contingents is nothing but sight-seeing or as mascots of their respective organisations. The visitors to the pavilion 111 do not even get a catalogue of Nollywood movies there and no Nigerian product qualifies for accreditation at the competition. Nollywood buffs boast that it is now the world’s second largest, but unfortunately nothing can qualify its being at the competition. The most infuriating thing is that each year, Nigeria tosses an extravagant party at the end of the event. One may wonder what the rejoicing is for? Do they celebrate their failure to meet up conditions by the festival jury? Unknown to many of them, the country has been a laughing stock at the prestigious event.

The filmmakers have excelled into showing the world its mediocrity and carelessness about professionalism in the entertainment world. It is rather piercing for countries like Niger, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and so on to unseat Nigeria in the race of world entertainment professionalism. But nothing can be done when a Malian famous director and filmmaker, Souleymane Cisse was crowned with Cannes coveted Prix du Jury in 1987 for his film, Yeeleen (Brightness). He is the first African to receive this award from Cannes.

The story continues, it is invented and re-invented every year and at the same time, the festival team and the city of Cannes prepare to greet artistes and professionals from around the world. But to our dismay, the great festival continues with zero impact from Nollywood and the Nigerian players. Why, how and when do Nigerians want to make the decision that Nollywood become known not only in Cannes, but other similar events like the Oscars? Consider what is required: the enthusiasm of our filmmakers to produce world class projects that would meet international standard, the seriousness of the actors and above all making stories that will appeal to all.

In addition to this and as to the weather or unless government and other corporate bodies come to the rescue by rendering support is an old song, series of conferences and workshops were done to make it perfect. Countries like Egypt, Tunisia and South Africa have signaled to the world their desire for film transformation in their various countries, making the African continent bigger by the day.

Looking at the frequency at which Festival de Cannes operates, the 63 year-old festival was originally set to be held in Cannes in 1939 under the presidency of Louis Lumière. However, it was not until over a year after the war ended that it finally took place, on 20 September 1946. It was subsequently held every September – except in 1948 and 1950 – and then every May from 1952 onwards. Every edition, the appearance of stars from around the world on the Festival’s red carpet and increasing media coverage quickly earned it a legendary international reputation.

Many African films have been screened at the Cannes and among them are films from Morocco, Les Yeux Secs by Narjiss Nejjar, Le Silence de la forêt by Didier Ouenangare and Bassek ba Kobhio from the Central African Republic and Cameroon in 2003, Khorma by Jilani Saadi from Tunisia in 2003, Heremakono by Abdherrahmane Sissako from Mauritania in 2002, La Saison des Hommes by Moufida Tlatli from Tunisia in 2000, La Genèse by Cheick Oumar Sissoko from Mali in 1999, Kini et Adams by Idrissa Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso, Le Destin by Youssef Chahine from Egypt in 1997 and Po di Sangui by Flora Gomes from Guinea Bissau in 1996.

But the Nigerian film industry which is 104 years old, with its first film Palava, shot in 1904, is yet to be in the contest. I think the apex body of filmmaking in Nigeria must be questioned for such international embarrassment or seize. We are tired of old songs!

For the Records: Awards of 64th Edition of Cannes 2011

1. Feature films
•Palme d’Or: This most outstanding award goes to The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick

• Grand Prix Ex-aequo: This years Grand Prix was lifted by Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once upon a time in Anatolia) and Le Gamin Au Velo (The Kid with a Bike) by Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne

• Award for Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn for his marvelous movie, Drive

• Award for Best Screenplay: Joseph Cedar for Hearat Shulayim (Footnote).

• Award for Best Actress: This award goes to Kirsten Dunst for her stupendous role in Melanchola, directed by Lars Von Trier.

• Award for Best Actor: 2011 most super star goes to Jean Dujardin for his performance in Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist.

• Jury Prize: This award goes to Polisse (Police) directed by MAÏWENN

2. Short Films
• Palme d’Or: For short film goes to Cross (Cross-country) directed by Maryna Vroda

• Jury Prize: Badpakje 46 (Swimsuit 46) directed by Wannes Destoop

3. Un Certain Regard:
• Prize of Un Certain Regard Ex-aequo: Goes to Arirang, by Kim Ki-Duk

• Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize: Went for Elena, directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
• Directing Prize of Un Certain Regard: The movie Be Omid E Didar, directed by Mohammad Rasoulof

4. Cinefondation:
• 1st Prize Cinéfondation was won by Der Brief (The Letter) directed by Doroteya Droumeva

• 2nd Prize – Cinéfondation: Drari, directed Kamal Lazraq
• 3rd Prize Cinéfondation: Ya-Gan-Bi-Hang (Fly by Night) directed by Son Tae-gyum

5. Golden Camera
• Caméra d’Or: The coveted golden camera awards goes to the movie, Las Acacias, directed by Pablo Giorgelli