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Socio-cultural exposition at film lecture

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Prof. Shaka presents Anuli with her prize. An interesting discussion ensued at the fourth edition of the Nigerian Film Corporation, NFC, film lecture series. The annual event which recently held on May 5 at the Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos marks the first time it would be held outside of the capital city of Abuja. Prof. Femi Shaka gave a lecture titled 'Nollywood: Reconstructing the historical and socio-cultural contexts of the Nigerian video film industry'.

Prof. Shaka went down memory lane as he reminded the audience of the nation's socio-political history. Prof. Shaka said that the 'ritualistic trend' in Nollywood films did not grow in a vacuum but attributes it to the peculiar needs and aspirations of the average Nigerian. As Shaka traced the history of how Nollywood has portrayed the fears and insecurities of the average Nigerian through the years, he also added that Nigerian films can promote culture in the mould of the likes of Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and other Nigerian writers. He noted that our films are powerful tools with Nollywood stars branding corporate organisations and political figures.

“Nollywood should take itself more seriously as power comes with responsibility” he said while saying that distorted and exploitative images should be avoided by the filmmakers. There was a short discussion session spearheaded by Lt. Col. E.D. Edima; Vivien Turbunde and Victor Okai. Mr. Okai said the first set of Nollywood stars emerged from television soap operas adding that it is a pity that the once popular soap operas died out. He further condemned the national distribution system which he described as being 'high-handed' never taking into cognisance people who started the Nigerian film industry. He says little wonder then that the badly thought out distribution system has failed to work.

Mr. Okai also had an answer to a rhetoric question earlier posed by Prof. Shaka who wanted to know why a mere six million Naira 'Jenifa' film recorded success while 100 million Naira 'Kajola' failed. Mr. Okai said the reason is same as the reason why Nollywood is a success in Africa and among Africans in Diaspora. He said an average Nigeria even while laughing because of the humour in 'Jenifa' can actually relate with it and some may even see themselves in some of the characters, he said this can't be said of the sci-fi 'Kajola'.

Dr. Adeniyi-Ojo was chairman at the event which had representatives from NANTAP, Eko International Film Festival, PEFTI and the Voice of Nigeria, VON. Also present at the event was the filmmaker Lancelot Imasuen who alleged that academicians were 'distancing themselves' from commercial Nollywood. Shaka was quick to deny this saying that the academicians are very much interested in Nigerian films. Dr. Adeniyi-Ojo added his voice to the question and answers session by saying he would love if the makers of Nigerian films would actually consider the young and engage in animation films to help develop the minds of these young Nigerians who watch animated films and cartoons from foreign countries which do not reflect their nation.

Before the event came to a close some honorary awards were handed out by the NFC with Mr. Ita Okon and Mr. Aliyu Kankara receiving Life Time Achievement Awards. The film Ije won the Highest Box office award and the winners of the 2010 NFC annual film essay competition were around to receive their certificates and prize money. Anuli Agina, an assistant lecturer at the National Open University, NOUN won first place and went away with a N100,000