By Anote Ajeluorou
The intent was clear. Nollywood is in dire need of new converts. She is in search of new investors. It explained the complexion of the sparse audience made up mostly of top business executives and upwardly mobile Lagos types. They’d come with a new enthusiasm for the Exclusive Private Screening of Mr. Kunle Afolayan’s new offering, October 1.
Only filmmakers Mahmoud Ali-Balogun (Tango with Me) and Tunde Kelani (Maami, Arugba) were the odd men out from Nollywood, and Delta State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Richard Mofe-Damijo, who sneaked in and out, a fitting explanation for the lack of activity in that state on the portfolio he has held for several years now.
Filmmaker, Afolayan and General Manager, Terra Kulture, Mr. Joseph Omoibom were clear about the intent. There’s a desire to woo new sets of investors to the sector if only to project the maturity of the industry and be able to take it outside. The Cannes Film Festival in the South of France just opened, but like before, Nigeria, Africa’s largest filmmaking country, is absent. Afolayan’s October 1 and Half of a yellow Sun are the turning point cinematic experiences needed to open the global outlook for Nollywood. But their experiences show that Nollywood’s resources alone are not enough to take it to the next phase. Outside help is needed; and it’s in abundance in the corporate sector. It needs digging deep to unearth it.
That was just what Afolayan and Terra Kulture boss, Mrs. Bolanle Austin-Peters are seeking to do with October 1, a new experiential film that takes Nollywood’s cinema inches closer to its destination with the Exclusive Private Screening. More of such screenings are being arranged for big business operators in the hope that the USD$2 million budget for making the film could be defrayed with ease. Afolayan told the audience, “It’s been a long journey, but thank God for his grace. The budget for this film is USD$2 million. How to recoup the money I don’t know. We made this film through our sweat and blood”.
As usual, Afolayan said he got most of the money for the film from relations, friends, with support from a few bigwigs like Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Elizade Motors’ boss, Ade Ojo among others. It was why he and Austin-Peters were taking the filmic gospel to new investors, who he said were largely less enthusiastic about investing in films, just as they were non-cinema goers. He, however, noted, “But support is 30 per cent. I raised the rest through blood and sweat. Film is investment but it’s also art and recouping money spent isn’t easy. You people here don’t go to cinema. So you can write the budget off in big cheques. In any case, how many cinemas do we even have? So, we’re looking to go outside, but before then, you need to see what we can do”.
Just before the screening, boss of culture promoting centre, Austin-Peters noted how proud she was to bring about the private screening of October 1. She stated, “This is a perfect blend of purpose coming from a highly talented man. It’s a fantastic movie. This is an opportunity here for us for something that is very unique, that has job-creating value for society”. Austin-Peters recalled her experience staging Saro the Musical last year and lamented how technology failed her coupled with its non-theatre performance environment, but praised the abundance of talent on offer in Nigeria, as October 1 film also evidently indicates.
October 1 is a crime story told with ingenuity with a good dose of politics thrown in for good measure. To stop the serial murder of virgins in Akote, the departing British officer drafts in Danladi Waziri (Sadiq Daba) to resolve the crime before the Union Jack is lowered for the Green-White-Green to be hoisted up. Waziri’s finding, after a series of compelling and bizarre events, is as astonishing as it has had reverberating judicial consequences for the Nigeria that soon emerged from October 1, 1960 and till date, a Nigeria still struggling for a foothold on its true destiny as a nation state.
It’s yet again Afolayan’s quality offering after Figurine and Phone Swap. Afolayan leaves no one doubt about his directorial abilities in this film that will make for compelling viewing experience when it eventually opens for the public. Like half of a Yellow Sun, it’s another look at Nigeria’s history at that crucial point of Nigeria’s independence and what that historic moment portended for the new nation. As he put it himself, “I want to document history for young people to learn about our history. As a people, how far have we learnt from our history?
“This screening is to pitch the film for sponsorship. The film will go to cinemas around the world. Any brand pitching with us will travel with the film. We’re open to corporate sponsorship. The film will be shown in cinemas in Lagos and Abuja”.
Unlike some in its rank of well made films, Afolayan’s October 1 boasts 100 per cent Nigerian cast and crew. The only foreign input is the colour separation and mixing done abroad.