Lagos on the Silver Screen? Who can bring it?

Marina-at-Dusk

If you follow their body of work, you’d notice that Scorsese, Woody Allen, Spike Lee have a love for NewYork and this amorous affair is evident in their movies. For Allen, Manhattan is a clear example, Scorcese titled on of his films New York New York and Spike Lee has Do the Right Thing and The 25th Hour.

Watching those films, if you have never visited the city it kinda make you want to go see it.

They are all very different filmMakers, and show very different elements of the city , through neurotic Jewish eyes, Socially concious African American eyes and Street smart Italian American eyes.

For me i would love to see some filmMakers bring that to Lagos. Now i know what you’re thinking.

“Guy, e no easy to shoot for Lagos”.
“Lagos Ke!!! Is it beans”
Area boys go just obtain you

Ok, now we’ve fired those arrows from the quiver of excuses . Think about it. Would really be cool wouldnt it?

Now, these guys are not Lagos based or even based in Naija, but there are three directors, who based on their work i’ve seen, would like to see how they bring Lagos to the big screen

Akin Omotoso of MAN ON GROUND
His use of sound and visuals as a thematic thread for his narrative was just amazing

Andrew Dosunmu of MOTHER OF GEORGE
The visual palette of MoG, how he captured the party and celebration lifestlye of Nigerians

Thomas Ikimi of LEGACY:BLACK OPS
His psycological and existenstial approach in his films , applied to the city and a character trying to stay sane in it would be very interesting to watch.

These three guys have shown that they can play at a global level and their films are very cinematic. What would make it even more awesome is if Remi Adefarasin did some of the lensing.

Imagine exploring the dark side of Lekki and what goes on behind those “picket fences”. The swimming in the coroporate Shark Tank of Victoria Island or the Lavish life of those in the upcoming Eko Atalantic City. The hustle of Agege and Agegunle , the midlife crisis in Magodo or Ogudu.

Then again, skilled filmMakers based in Eko, can take up the challenge of making a film that is a love letter to the City of Excellence . 🙂

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Black & African Cinema is in good hands

So i recently watched MOTHER OF GEORGE , the Andrew Dosunmu film that won a Cinematography Award at Sundance. Having watched his debut feature RESTLESS CITY a few weeks before seeing MoG, i realize that, like Spike Lee’s penchant for African American stories, Dosunmu has one for the story of Africans in diaspora.

His partnership with Cinematographer Bradford Young produces very rich visuals which are a delight to look at, and i personally love how they shoot Black skin. Dosunmu’s fashion photography background is very clear in his compositions and his art direction, and his love to traditional African music and classic artists is clear and present. Though his films are very arty and sometimes get carried away in their own beauty thereby creating a disconnet, i do think he is an interesting director and i look foward to his next outing, especially if he reteams up with Bradford Young. Like Spike Lee who has a long creative partnership with his DP, Ernest Dickerson, Dosunmu and Young may be another great Nubian duo.

Young is also a rising star in the cinematography world and has also worked with Ava DuVernay and Dee Rees. Now im not one to look at films/people/talent based on shade of Melanin, but i do think that the rise of someone like Young and his collaboration with these directors is a great thing for both Black and African cinema. His available light style and his visual versatilty has won him Cinematography Award, U.S. Dramatic, Sundance Film Festival for lensing “Pariah”,”Mother of George” and “Aint them Bodies Saints”. At age 37 he still has a very long career ahead of him and if he keeps up the momentum, in another 20 years we could speak of him the way we speak of Deakins and Willis now.

Dosunmu was tapped to direct the Fela biopic that Steven McQueen had been previously attached to, and even if that doesnt work out, i hope to see him shoot a film in Lagos one day and see how he brings that delicious visual style of his to the city of excellence.

Bradford Young

NIGERIA WINS AT SUNDANCE – Mother of ……..

So i’m on facebook the other day,and saw some chatter about Mother of George. Apparently it has won a cinematography award at Sundance. First, it didn’t sink in, until i decided to go to YouTube and check out the trailer again. Then i saw the delicious visual palette on display and i found myself watching it over and over again.

Then the realization. A Nigerian film, directed by a Nigerian , telling a Nigerian story won at Sundance, one of the worlds most respected film festivals. That’s quite an achievement.

Now, i really don’t know what that means for Nigerian film makers as a whole. For one thing it shows that we can make films at that level and of that mastery. It shows the world that we aren’t all defined by what is the popular way of film making that the world knows us for .

As Dosunmu is not based in Nigeria or a part of it’s popular industry , in not sure if that will make them think it’s a once in a blue moon event. But i do think it can inspire a lot of us to do better, same as “City of God” made us think WOW!! We can do this too.

I haven’t seen MoG, but from what i gather, it’s not a new story. It has been told hundreds of times by other home based directors, but like a friend of mine says, 5 directors can tell the same story, from the same script, what will distinct one from the other is the EXECUTION.

As the trailer has wet my appetite, i do hope the film it’s self will be satisfactory.

It really would be wonderful to see Dosunmu bring his visual flourish to the life and world of FELA, whose Biopic he has been selected to helm by Focus Features

Sons of the soil

Nigeria film is primarily known by Nollywood,but, there are a Nigerian Born film-makers not affiliated with Nollywood , doing  Nigeria proud and these are just a few of them

AKIN OMOTOSO: is a Nigerian Born South African actor, known for roles in SA show Generations and films like Blood Diamonds and Lord of War. He’s also a director with 8 credits to his name including short films, documentaries and his feature film Man on Ground, starring Fabian Ladoje and Hakeem Kae Kazim.  I’ve seen the film and it’s certainly unique, I was mostly impressed by the cinematography and sound design. His narrative was quite different in it’s very non-linear unconventional approach. The film won the Special Jury Prize at AAMA and also Best Actor in a Supporting role for Fano Mokoena.  He’s certainly someone who next film I’ll be anticipating.

ANDREW DOSUNMU is a photographer turned film maker. He started his career in the design department of Yves Saint Laurent and soon switched gears directing music videos starting with Issac Hayes and going on to craft videos for Aaron Neville, Youssou N Dour and Common. He went on to direct documentaries and tv show, winning accolades such as Reel Award at Toronto International Film Festival, Best Documentary at FESPACO. Both his feature debut Restless City and his follow up, Mother of George premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Now he’s been selected by Focus Features to helm the Fela Biopic,, previously attached to Steve McQueen, it will be interesting to  see how that turns out.

BIYI BANDELE: , the novelist and playwright turned motion picture director , helmed the much touted Half of a Yellow Sun adaptation. The film based on the Chimamanda Adichie novel received a lot of attention and tirade due to the casting of Thandie Newton in the role of Olanna.  He had previously made a name for himself adapting Chinua Achebe’s Things fall Apart for the British Stage and has been involved in journalism, television and radio. Not ,long after wrapping from HoaYS set, he went on to direct the MTV Shuga series the Nigerian adaptation. It would be interesting to see what else he touches and if he’ll stick around Nigeria to do some more film work.

THOMAS IKIMI:He impressed with his second student feature LIMBO  made for $9,000 on his credit cards, it was an official selection at the Taorinma Film Festival in Sicily, and played at the Cannes Film Market.  He wrote and wrote the script for third feature LEGACY: Black Ops while working shifts at his local London electronic store, raised the $500,000 budget and cast The Wire star and Golden Globe winner Idris Elba as his lead, also scoring Eamon Walker on his cast list . The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Film at the American Black Film Festival. It got nominations at the Raindance Film Festival and won Best Director at the London Screen Nation Awards 2011. Specializing in existential and psychological thrilllers , this is mos def a director to watch out for.

As the years go along and especially with the rise of new voices through great short films, I’m sure the number will rise to make Nigeria cinema proud.

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FELA BIOPIC New Development

FELA BIOPIC New Development

Just the other day i was tweeting and asking ,what kind of film would Andrew Dosumnu make if he decided to shoot in Nigeria. Now we may have an answer, recent news has it , that he’ll be directing a FELA biopic. This come as a surprise as in news through the grapevine over the last three years or so, was that Steve McQueen was to direct it, with Chiwetal starring in it. No word yet, who would be cast in the role. No doubt, like the HoAYS sun casting, it’s going to be interesting to watch the reactions of Nigerians.

Like HoaYS, which was produced by the BFI, this is being produced by Focus Features which has made films with the Coen Brothers and other films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,In Bruges, Eastern Promises etc It’s an American company, and like the reaction with HoaYS people are bound to ask “why are foreigners telling our story?” Considering the Afro Beat King;s influence till today , over a decade since his passing, that protectiveness is understood.

Fela is a beloved Nigerian and African son, a legend on the level of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. Whoever is cast) if not Chiwetal) has a HUGE SHOES to fill, and a lot of hardcore Fela fans to impress. I wonder if Femi and the other offspring are involved and what their take is on this.

Will this start another “our son”, “our story” brouhaha like HoaYS did? Would people rant about Why not a local director,Why not a Nollywood actor. Please leave your thought, your views and what you think about the whole thing.

HoAYS and the year of Chiwetal

So the trailer has been out for a few weeks now, (Yeah, i know,this is kinda a Lastma a blog). After all the brohaha surrounding this film,from the casting of Thandie Newton in the lead to the scarcity of Nollywod actors in signficant roles’ to rumors of Genevieve`s scenes hitting the cutting room floor, now that the trailer is out, it has done it’s work in getting people excited to see it.

How it plays in Nigeria would be very interesting to observe, as both fans of the book and those that followed the production closely, and also those that petitioned against Thandie Newtons casting, and the outrage that followed a comment made by source writer Chimamanda will all be watching the film. So i guess we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out. One thing is certain, the film certainly has had enough publicity long before it gets to the screen.

Chiwetal who plays one of the lead characters in it, also has  “12 years a slave” coming out,directed by Steve McQueen who is already building a body of work that commands respect and another film “Savannah” also a 2013 movie. So this is the year of the Golden Globe nominee who has worked with respected directors like Speilberg, Spike Lee, Ridley Scott and David Mamet.

With HoAYS and Mother of George(dir by Andrew Dosunmu) receiving a lot of attention on the global  cinema scene, and both are directed by Nigerian born but West based film makers, it would be interesting to see the effect they have on the Nigerian filmscape and how differently films made in Nigeria and by Nigerians are viewed.