I’m an addict-Tunde Kelani
Foremost filmmaker and cinematographer, Tunde Kelani has the vision of taking culture to a greater height through his productions. The chief executive of Mainframe Production who has just completed his new movie Narrow Path recently disclosed his new project which he titled From Print to Screen.
In a recent chat with Daily Sun, Kelani said he has found out that the new generation of Nigerians no longer read, hence his new project which seeks to retain the past literary and cultural resources. He also wants other producers to join in this new trend of retaining indigenous literature and theatre:
I produce films/movies that have a lot of cultural content. And in this rapidly globalising world, it is important for me to always base what I do on my culture and it is not a question of language only. The latest production I had was adapted from Bayo Adebowale's novel; The Virgin. The novel is written in English but it is very rich culturally. It inspired me from many directions.
I started the project; From Print to Screen having realised that the new generation of Nigerians doesn't read any longer. Occasionally, I dip into our literary resources to bring out a novel, something that I can adapt for screen and I have done this successfully through Thunderbolt,written by Adebayo Faleti as well as Kosegbe and Oleku written by Professor Akinwumi Ishola.
The film was very popular, but it was also a disaster in the Nigerian market because the marketers didn't see the point of me doing anything in English. I think it was regarded in certain quarters as a threat to some business interests but I am very happy that Thunderbolt was selected by the New African Film Library as an initiative of M-Net South Africa. The library selected 150 films and Thunderbolt is among them. So I see this as a success.
Through the M-Net initiative- New Directions, I have produced The White Handkerchief; a 15- minute film based on Bayo Adebowale's novel; The Virgin. It was quite a successful film but a short one indeed. And because I felt that we didn't do justice to the material, I decided to work on Narrow Path.
At first, I decided to produce a 25-minute Television series but the French Embassy gave me some financial assistance and that was what gave birth to Narrow Path. What is challenging about the new production is that the original script is written in English language. Also, we had a brilliant cast, including good technical hands working on it. But the most interesting aspect is that, the film was shot in Benin Republic. We were based at Kube but the shooting location was in Isede village. Isede is predominatly a Yoruba community in the former French Colony. We were able to involve the community in the movie including the royal father, who acted in the film alongside over 100 men and women in the commuinty.
In the past, it was very important for girls to get married as virgins and in this case, Awero decides to marry Odejimi among several suitors. Odejimi and his parents are very happy and proud and they go into elaborate preparations for the wedding.
But on the bridal night, while everybody was waiting to celebrate Awero's virginity, the groom discovers that she had been raped by a boy who came from the city. Awero has refused to tell anyone about this, hoping that Odejimi would keep it a secret and save her from the shame but Odejimi feels humiliated that his new bride is not a virgin, hence his announcement to the whole community.
This eventually leads to conflict between the two affected villages and as the rift was leading to war, the women themselves challenge the senselessness in shedding unnecessary blood over an issue like virginity. It shows that in any case, the women suffer more in our culture and that they don't have the voice or the representation that should have been accorded them.