NOLLYWOOD 2007: TALE OF SWEETNESS, TRIALS
Like other sectors of the economy, the motion picture industry, otherwise known as Nollywood recorded a number of historic and shocking moments in 2007. However, while some of these were, hailed and applauded, others were jeered at and particularly for diminishing the image and the high profile nature of the money spinning industry.
Perhaps, one of the biggest scandals that rocked Nollywood in 2007 was the arrest of top actor Uche Odoputa for drug trafficking at the Murtala Mohammed Intemational Airport, Lagos. Odoputa, an indegene of Imo State was arrested at the airport on Friday, March 23, 2007 with some kilogrammes of cocaine.
He was travelling to London via Virgin Atlantic, when NDLEA officials picked him. He was later tried, found guilt and eventually convicted. His case was akin to the 2006 episode of yet another artiste, Wunmi who was apprehended at the MMA for trying to export cocaine.
Another scandal that nearly crippled Nollywood last year was the shocking revelation that popular actor and now Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Actors Guild of Nigerian (AGN), Emest Obi, allegedly- his 16 year old step daughter (Vanessa), severally and even got her pregnant twice and allegedly removed it through abortion. Obi's estranged wife Joan made the startling revelation and the scandal is still rocking Tinsel town even in this New Year.
The well-celebrated rift between top Nollywood actors Emeka Ike and Jim Iyke. over a married woman in the US, also shook the industry, its practitioners and followers. And till date, both stars are still throwing accusations at each other in the media, over who actually dated the woman.
In the same vein, practitioners in Nollywood and their teeming fans were grossly shocked to learn that top actresses Oby Edozieh and Tricia Esiegbe became enemies over who wins the heart of Daniel Wilson, ex-raggae act. Surprisingly, the two artistes used to be best of pals until the original bad boy allegedly crept in and put their friendship asunder.
Sometimes in the year too, Actors Guild of Nigeria(AGN) under the national leadership of Ejike Asiegbu, also slammed a one year ban on top actress, Ini Edo over a series of professional misconducts. She was later pardoned after four months, due to pleas from Nigerians, especially her teeming fans.
Meanwhile, Nollywood, which is rated by the Time magazine as being worth over 22 billion dollars, also recorded a lot of milestone achievements in the out gone year. One of these was the third edition of the African Movie Academy Awards - AMAA, which held in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State. Aside rewarding and recognizing some outstanding actors and movies, the event, further repositioned Nigeria on the global map of strong movie m"king nations.
Interestingly too, several guilds in Nollywood organized elections that brought in new officers into the mantle of leadership. They include: Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Lagos State chapter, the Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN), the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), the Nigerian Society of Cinematographers (NSC) and the Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria (SWGN).
Moreover, the second edition of the Nollywood Gala Nite successfully held at the Coliseum Niteshift, courtesy of Ken Calebs Olumese. The red carpet and fire works that preceded the grand event will continue to be remembered within and outside Nollywood.
Besides, one major achievement by Nollywood outside our shores was the storming of the Seven Odeon Cinema halls and Cineworld in England, Ireland and other European cities by two Nollywood blockbusters-Mission to No Where and Mirror of Beauty.
The two movies became a synergy between Atlantic Overseas limited led by Andrien Gbinigie and TFP Global Network led by Teco Benson. Historically, the movies were screened in these cinemas for two weeks alongside their foreign counterparts, thus elevating Nollywood and moving it to the next level. These high budget movies were also shot on 35mm.
Also, after several years of protracted crisis, peace was finally brokered between the national body of the AGN and the Board of Trustees led by Prince Ifeanyi Dike in 2007.
As part of the collective efforts geared towards repositioning the industry, the Movie Reporters Guild of Nigeria (MORGON), the umbrella body for all the entertainment joumalists covering Nollywood, successfully took off last year. This initiative was widely hailed by many stakeholders in the industry.
In the area of film festivals and reality TV shows, the year 2007 was indeed memorable. While AMAA held in Bayelsa State, Abuja, hosted the Abuja Film Festival and BOBTV. Also, Lagos and Enugu hosted Lagos intemational film festival and Enugu language film festival respectively. Interestingly, new stars were also discovered through reality shows such as: Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO) the Next Movie Stars (NMS), Fight for Fame (FFF) among several others.
But like the proverbial beautiful world that has its dark moments, death swept through Nollywood last year like a hurricane and left in its trail, wailing and gnashing of teeth. The first victim was movie director and scriptwriter Ebereonwu who died in an auto crash along the ever-busy Westem Avenue road, Lagos on the eve of Easter.
Another veteran actor, Francis Agu died after a protracted battle with an undisclosed ailment. Then, in the last quarter of the year, another pioneer actor and renowned dancer, Joe Adekwagh also breathed his last. Top actress Susan Patrick also became a widow following the sudden death of her husband, a top police officer, in mid 2007.
On the issue of broken marriages, affected such acts as nollywood stars recorded huge loses, during the past year. The long of crashed marriages include Ken Okonkwo, Saidi and Fathia Balogun, Stephanie Okereke, Chiege Alisigwe, Eucharia Anunobi, Steph Nora Okere, Ngozi Ezeonu among several others.
Meanwhile, the industry was literally on fire last year when ex beauty queen Ibinabo Fiberisima accused top movie maker, Zeb Ejiro of copyright infringement.
The two event went into battle, over a movie project that later went among. In fact, the unending war of words and accusations of intellectual property theft from both sides has not abated, even in the New Year.