Friday, December 29, 2006

Year 2006 - a retrospective...

In my opinion, the Nigerian audience makes the art and business of the budding film and video industries worthwhile in the same way spectators and the supporters' clubs make the world of soccer tick. Although I am not a Nollywood star, I get stopped regularly by ardent fans who do an on the spot analysis of our productions. 'We like Mainframe Productions because you take your time and make only a film per year.' I never contest this assertion and prefer to smile in appreciation. Unlike other producers who make twenty or fifty movies a year to heap on an already saturated dunghill of Idumota and other industry markets. We like to work differently, putting the scarce funds in higher production values. We want to make films that are not only entertaining but are also purposeful because our esteemed audience deserves only the best. And that is why it takes so much time, confronted by a hostile environment like ours to craft a decent movie.

How did we fare in 2006? We broke records and made or released more than one movie. We gave our audience, Abeni, starring Sola Asedeko, Abdel Hakim Amzat, Ayo Badmus, Bukky Wright and many others. 'Great things sometimes come in small packages ' quoting Cameron Bailey, the international programmer for the prestigious Toronto Internationa Film Festival when Abeni was programmed last September. I was clearly overwhelmed. I had dreamt of Toronto Internation Film Festival of course but I did not reckon with a movie like Abeni to feature in the best of Africa and Africa in diaspora. Against my shrewed expectation, the movie got more invitations firstly at 'Africa At The Pictures, which held at Liverpool, United Kingdom and also the Cape Town World Cinema Festival, South Africa both events held in November 2007. More invitations are still coming in. But then this is a proof that nobody is an expert when it comes to judging a movie. We had anticipated the audience's interest in the concluding story and started work on Abeni2. A more robust movie in my opinion, to live up to expectation, we gave it every attention it deserves. Abeni2 was subsequently released in time for Christmas and other festivities. A premiere or launch was unnecessary since it was a long wait for our teeming audience.

The real heroines and heroes of 2006 are the writers, cast and crew of Abeni and Abeni2 in Nigeria and our collaborators in neighbouring Benin Republic where we shot the films. We have in the true spirit of ECOWAS (The Economic Community of West African States), a body set up thirty years ago to encourage economi, social and cultural integration in the sub-region, come, seen and conquered.

I have intentionally left out the just concluded movie, 'The Narrow Path', adapted from 'The Virgin, written by Bayo Adebowale. I prefer an overlap into 2007 which holds so much promise and excitement. I shall be here to give you a blow by blow account of the year of our collective breakthrough.