Lights Cam­era Africa: A Field Of Har­vest For Nige­rian Cin­ema

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - CONTRIBUTORS - From Olu Yomi Ososanya

THE 8th edi­tion of Lights Cam­era Africa, the art house film fes­ti­val founded by art cu­ra­tor, Ugonma Ade­goke, held in La­gos re­cently. View­ers were treated to a va­ri­ety of doc­u­men­taries, an­i­ma­tion, shorts and fea­ture films they won’t likely see any­where else. Screen­ings, con­ver­sa­tions and op­ti­mism about film­mak­ing in Nige­ria dom­i­nated Day 2 of the event.

The works of young film­mak­ers, not yet known by main­stream au­di­ences were shown and the mak­ers got the chance to talk about their films, ex­pe­ri­ence and craft dur­ing Q& A ses­sions. Two films stood out for me.

De­liv­ery Boy (2018), di­rected by Kunle Ade­juy­ibe aka No­dash , the Cine­matog­ra­pher of Iso­ken(2017), In Line(2017), The Bridge(2017);

lens­ing films for Di­rec­tors, Tope Oshin, Kunle Afo­layan, Tolu Ajayi and oth­ers.

It was an en­gross­ing dive into the lives of a sui­cide bomber and a street walker, who meet by fate and em­bark on a ride which will for­ever change their lives. Lead ac­tor, Ja­mal Ibrahim’s in­tense per­for­mance is wor­thy of note.

Ade­juyigbe, bal­anced ac­tion, sus­pense and thrills to cre­ate a com­pelling piece of cin­ema. The 66 min pas­sion project shot since 2015 just com­pleted post-pro­duc­tion and was viewed by the cast for the first time at the fes­ti­val.

The thun­der­ous ap­plause it re­ceived was well de­served.

Kasala!(2018) is the fea­ture de­but of Ema Edo­sio who has di­rected TV shows like The

Friend­zone, The Gov­er­nor and Ru­mour Has It . Those shows fo­cus on the lives and loves of mid­dle /up­per mid­dle class Nige­ri­ans in their gated com­mu­ni­ties. If her pre­vi­ous work had restau­rant equiv­a­lents, her TV projects are a restau­rant in Lekki Phase with el­e­va­tor mu­sic and Kasala is a Buka in a bus park, full of life and Fuji mu­sic.

Kasala is the story of four friends in the slums of La­gos all go­ing through fam­ily and life chal­lenges. On this day they skip their trou­bles, work and babysit­ting to go for a party. TJ, the de­funct ring leader steals his un­cle’s car, so they can ar­rive with swag. At the party, Abra­ham steals the keys to the car and crashes it and that is where the Kasala starts. The win­dow is shat­tered and the car won’t start. How do they fix the car and get it back to the house be­fore 6 o’ clock when his un­cle will be back from work?

The rest of the film has them strug­gling to raise the money to get the car fixed be­fore the end of the day. The prob­lem is, they are all broke.

Kasala, like La Haine(1995), Fri­day (1995) and Con­fu­sion Na Wa (2013), fol­lows “a day in the life” struc­ture. We join work­ing class young men in their twen­ties try­ing to sur­vive and as­pire for a bet­ter life. We see them from the mo­ment they wake up till the sun sets deal­ing with a va­ri­ety of char­ac­ters, in the form of neigh­bour­hood bul­lies, preda­tors, lovers, me­chan­ics and money deals.

The di­a­logue cap­tures the lingo of young men in a way many other films don’t. Noth­ing about the way they talk to each other feels in­au­then­tic and or out of place. Their ca­ma­raderie is be­liev­able and you re­ally buy that they are friends off screen. They tease, mock and prank each other as young men do.

Many Nol­ly­wood films are vis­ually generic; the cam­era is al­ways stiff, clin­i­cal with­out per­son­al­ity. Not in Kasala.

There’s good en­ergy in the scenes as Edo­sio , who was her own cine­matog­ra­pher, uti­lized, track­ing shots and mov­ing mas­ters. One scene has an un­bro­ken three minute mov­ing mas­ter where we see all four char­ac­ters to­gether on screen for the first time, sim­i­lar to the Sorkin, walk n talk. Edo­sio for­goes tra­di­tional cov­er­age and fol­lows her char­ac­ters like a doc­u­men­tary film-maker, there is noth­ing glossy or pris­tine about the world her cam­era cap­tures and that’s a good thing.

The­atri­cal Nol­ly­wood rarely had char­ac­ters of the un­em­ployed and un­der­e­d­u­cated youth: the dis­en­fran­chised who work in bukas, build our houses, haul our trash and serve us at fast food res­tau­rants. Their sto­ries also mat­ter, lest we live in an echo cham­ber en­cased in a bub­ble of priv­i­lege.

Kasala was ini­tially re­jected by dis­trib­u­tors who felt it had no com­mer­cial value. There were no known faces and felt just a lit- tle weird. It then was ac­cepted by film fes­ti­vals across the world - Edo­sio re­ceived in­vi­ta­tions from uni­ver­si­ties who loved her work. Look out for its re­lease and see it with friends.

The spec­trum of choices in the Nige­rian film space is ex­pand­ing with new voices with some­thing to say. The only way th­ese films will keep get­ting dis­tri­bu­tion is if movie fans pay for tick­ets and make them prof­itable. Both films are ex­am­ples of di­rec­tors mak­ing sto­ries they’re pas­sion­ate about, not a cal­cu­la­tion of what is most pop­u­lar.

Lights Cam­era Africa is a great plat­form and I hope dis­trib­u­tors be­gin to at­tend and har­vest great tal­ent.

Olu Yomi Ososanya @olu­dascribe

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