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Kelani’s film institute graduates first set


Professor Wole Soyinka (left), Kelani (right) and others at the unveiling of the logo of the film school

Professor Wole Soyinka (left), Kelani (right) and others at the unveiling of the logo of the film school

The Tunde Kelani-inspired Mainframe Film and Media Institute graduated its first set of students last weekend at Abeokuta, Ogun State. Present to lend support to the event were Prof. Wole Soyinka, Mr. Femi Odugbemi who gave the convocation lecture, Kelani’s mentor, Mr. Tunde Adeniji, culture advocate, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo and other film practitioners and critics.

The new institute awarded certificates to 14 fledgling filmmakers in basic filmmaking techniques.According to Mr. Kelani, the journey to attain knowledge is not an easy one, but one that could be exciting and fulfilling. As he put it, “The students got to know that filmmaking is a collaborative art, which involves various professionals. They received the theory and hands-on practical training in different aspects of filmmaking under the wings of seasoned industry professionals. They also had various interactions with many notable practitioners in diverse fields”.

He expressed his confident in their abilities and presented them to the industry.Soyinka commended Kelani for the initiative, and said the school ought to have started long ago and would have trained more people in the industry by now to make them better filmmakers. He also said he had thought of doing something like that at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. He stated that now that Kelani had started it, people will be sent to MFMI to acquire the same training they travel abroad to get.

During his address Mr. Odugbemi told the graduates what to expect as budding filmmakers. According to him, “Filmmaking is first and foremost an artistic endeavor. It is a thoughtful, disruptive endeavour that seeks to influence the minds of its audiences. Yes, it is primarily entertaining but its real power is that it causes society to reflect on its history, its sociology, its ideology but much more its empathy and humanity. Filmmaking is not a trade; it is not some easy vocation for the dimwitted or something to do because you couldn’t pass JAMB”.

He continued, “Filmmaking is serious business. It is a socially conscious re-interpretation of reality. It is birthed in a context; it is relatable to its environment; it bears the distinct sounds and sights of its origination. Films are cultural artifacts, which reflect the cultures, and, in turn, affect them. So your work as filmmakers must be culturally relevant or it loses its point. So as you leave here, seek first and foremost to grow your historical consciousness and cultural intelligence and that will express itself in the important themes of your works and the core messages of your films”.

While giving an analogy of the drill machine, Odugbemi said, “My best message to you today is simple: your passion will prosper you when you put a purpose to your passion. I like the simple analogy of a mechanical drill. You buy a drill because you need to make a hole. The drill is a means to an end. What you want and the real point of buying the drill is to make a hole. Playing with the drill can be a lot of fun of course – it vibrates and makes a lot of noise when you turn it on. But unless you actually put it to a wall it is useless to operate one, isn’t it?

“The violence of our reality in our film industry is that the content of our cinema is not addressing the challenges of our environment. Too many of our colleagues in the industry spend a lot of time playing with the drill. And in the end they aren’t making a hole. Filmmaking is a powerful drill. Use it to make a hole… Make films to make a point. Make films that matter.”

Odugbemi added, “Nobody here needs me to make a case for how important the legacy of Tunde Kelani is, not just to the film industry of Africa, but to the renaissance movement of the African culture at large and the ancient Yoruba civilization in particular. I have constantly argued that history will remember Kelani not just as a pre-eminent African filmmaker, which he is, but primarily as a deeply committed advocate of cultural renaissance”.

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