The movie District 9 has gotten a lot of attention in the past few months. First the anticipation of a riveting Sci Fi movie. Then the people that were blown away by how well executed it was, then recently the concern and uprise of the portrayal of Nigerians in the movie.
I must admit, sitting in the cinema, every time “the Nigerians” was hammered in description to the negative characters, it stung a little but i carried on regardless. I wont say i hated the movie, because it was indeed, very well done.
BUT in retrospect i can see why peeps would be enraged. It’s bad enough that Cop shows and Sitcom make us a punch line. But this was something else on a whole new level.
My consolation was that , they were not Nigerian actors, nor did they speak in any Nigerian language, nor did they have Nigerian accents. BUT , most non Nigerians would not detect that fact
Many people would say
“We have more important things to be worried about”
but we have to remember how powerful a medium film is. Both to the intelligent, and those that just absorb and believe EVERYTHING that they see on TV and in the movie, Film leaves a powerful impression on the mind for a very long time.
We all know how Germans have been associated with Nazi ,Neo Nazi History in the movies. The same goes for middle easterners as terrorists. Indians as convenience store clerks and Asians as martial arts masters. These portrayals find their way into the subconscious,and even if it is for a microsecond,affect our perceptions , and with a movie as popular as District 9, it looks like it is going to become a part of popular culture.
The fact is, the consistent reference and Hammering on “The Nigerians” was unnecessary, and “the gangsters” would have been sufficient enough,without specifying a nationality.
I found this quote on a blog , which i find very insightful
“Whatever any film maker may portray, the most important thing really is that Africans need to start telling their own stories more than they have done so far. Africans need to make their own compelling films – both fiction and non-fiction. As an an African proverb says “Until lions are able to tell their own stories, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”
The Nigerian entertainment scene is growing in large proportions, TV ,and especially music which is now global.
Isn’t it about time, we loose all the Jazz ,Asawo, 419 stories in our movies? There are sooo many other aspects of Naija life we can write and make films about.
Chimamanda “Purple Hibiscus” Adichie, has become the pioneer of a new generation of Nigerian voices. .A voice that the world has taken seriously because of the QUALITY of the compelling and captivating stories she writes .
Isn’t it about time we do the same in our film making? Compelling stories, that are well made and excellently performed, that would sweep the floor and blow minds all across the world.
The literary world in Nigeria is NOWHERE as large as the movie industry,which has been touted as the second largest producer (quantity wise) in the world. But our literary figures are global brands that stand side by side with anyone from the west. Their books are stacked together in the same library and sold in the same book stores. In the case of Adichie promoted and distributed by the same publisher. The same can’t be said about our movie industry……yet. So for the love of all that’s good WHY??!!!
Why don’t we have film makers globally revered the same way Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka are held in high regard.
How come the Nigerian film world does not have ANY voice as respected as Chris Abani is globally? (If there’s one please correct me)
When are we gonna to have a 100%Naija made film(cast&crew) take the world by storm the same way Adichie’s books have done? Gathering critical acclaim and accolades from colleauges all around the world? Giving Keynote speeches at TED Talks Universities and seminars all over the World?
With all the movies made annually where is that movie that would garner a legion of awestruck fans with NO connection to Nigeria like Adichie’s book found?
Maybe the real question is “Why haven’t we done one or such yet?”
This is a challenge for all screenwriters,directors producers,creatives and all those involved in Tv and Film of Naija origin both inside and outside Naija.
We have the potential to tell fascinating Naija stories, those grounded in reality, fairy tale or fantasy, which we have many.
What stops us from adapting stories by Soyinka, Cyprian Ekwensi and others into screenplays. What stops “The return of Ikenga” ,”Things fall Apart” from being a Naija epic. or “Without a Silver spoon” becoming Naija’s answer to “Pursuit of Happyness” We have sooooo much potential, which can stop the recycling of stories.
We don’t even have to adapt books, but can come up with original stories that go beyond what is currrently available.
We’ve all had childhood experiences that would make great “Coming of age” films.
We’ve all heard tales in boarding school.Old wives tales or that story your friend heard, from his neighbor’s cousin’s sister’s daughters boyfriend, that sounds outlandish but you don’t mind because it’s throughly entertaining.
How about fictional stories with a historical backdrop?
How about stories set in a complete world of fantasy?
Biopics on heros. Satire ,Lord knows we have loads of ripe events that need to be told through the magic of Satire.
How about a gritty film that shows the social divide of Nigeria. The Haves vs The Have Nots. The Aje Butter vs The Aje Paki? Their resentment of each other and how they come to a mutual understanding.
The brutal reality of the “Area Boy” virus in society and how it could spiral into a much bigger monster that rampages the city like Godzilla.
I’ve said it a million times “City of God” is a prime example showing the potential a well made film can have to an industry.Shoot on a minimal budget and no big names ,It’s was brazilian film made outside Hollywood, and it took the world by storm. We have that potential too. How are we Naija young generation going to turn the tide, and start stunning the world with amazing globally appealing WELL MADE movies about naija life?