Protest against Censors Board...

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Segun Arinze was one of the Nigerian film stars who received this year's Afro Hollywood Awards for outstanding contributions to “African Film, Art and Culture”. Muritala Sule spoke with him in London on his controversial role in the recent face-off between the NFVCB and moviemakers.

What does this award mean to you?
For me , it's an international award.

Is it your first?
Yes, the first. I'm now looking at the international market. We've been able to surmount the challenge at home. And we've been able to bring people to Nigeria to shoot films. We started that last year. I'm preparing to be a member of the British Equity and do some stage work. My website is being built now; so, the international audience will see what I have to offer.

But why haven't our actors got roles in foreign films?
Our spoken English. That's why some of us find it difficult to break into the international market. Actors need to be trained in speech. For instance, the Indians have gone international. Even in their spoken English. I just saw this movie called Kabhi Khushi Kabshie Gham. It is a contemporary piece. In it they speak English the way you'll understand them. I'm impressed.

You just spoke about having overcome the challenges at home, what were those challenges?
We have been able to sensitize the international community that Nigeria has something unique to offer the world.

With those crude, those primitive Productions?
Look, everybody started primitive. Charlie Chaplin and such things were primitive. Hollywood started primitive, you know, blackwhite films and stuff. We'll get there. We need to improve technically.

What do you say about the ban marketers placed on some actors?
This is a very sensitive issue. It is not peculiar to Nigeria's film industry. In Hollywood, actors get blacklisted sometimes. Julia Roberts was once blacklisted. It's a jaw-jaw thing. We should discuss it rather than go to war over it. Actually, the complaint about actors and actresses isn't about fees as people have been saying; it's about attitude to work. People take money from producers and hop off the set, jet out of the country sometimes. But, we must fashion out a system that defines work relationship formally- a contract. How many days can an actor work? How many hours? It sounds ridiculous to say we shoot a film in three days, and so on. Professionally, it should be done in at least two weeks, three weeks. And there's the factor of greed among actors, sometimes working on multiple sets at a time, jumping from location to location. We have to fashion things out professionally.

You were on the Censors Board Committee for the aborted 10th anniversary. I learn that the celebration failed partly because you were not popular among your colleagues.
Whoever said that is stupid! They are stupid and idiotic. If anyone of them was invited, they'd have taken it up. The general assumption by them was that I was making money there. They went into the streets and misbehaved. The organistion of the Censors Board event was contracted out. I was invited as well as Paul Obazele's company and we went in there to do a professional job. Oserada and Oserada was to look for sponsors.

Obazele's company was to organize the gala event and my company, Outbursts, was to do publicity. The only money that came in was one million naira from Nu Metro. We heard that the Censors Board asked us to raise N600 million. From where? Just to celebrate ten years of Censors Board?! But why should anyone protest that they were having a birthday celebration? If you're invited to a birthday party and you feel like not attending, why should you take to the streets in protest. But, I guess it was a reasonable thing that Mrs Odeh did postponing the anniversary to avoid an ugly incident. The problem of the industry today is that people talk too much and they do nothing! Stupid people! They like to talk, talk, talk and at the end they cannot deliver.