A Desire To Do More In The Global Film Industry
“We are being called to remember – to reimagine, to dream, to vision, to see the world and ourselves in entirely different ways.” (Tim Hiersted | www.filmsforaction.org)
It has been an exciting start to the new decade, already two months in, but I wanted my first piece on The Guardian’s 2020 Vision Campaign to be about something visual – film. Film is a form of mass communication, often described as the most powerful medium of communication. I am inclined to agree with this, especially in this day and age of social media distractions and shorter attention spans. Watching TV, or better still big-screen feature films at cinema-houses encourage us to have those quiet moments that are increasingly lacking in modern societies.
The film medium remains a key part of every society, not only as a form of entertainment but as an effective force for change, towards a greater good. Why? Because films tell stories, and in the most effective way – visually. Characters are brought to life more effectively compared with other mediums. The levels of concentration viewers display are more powerful still. With phones being switched off, with the blackout, you really are taken to another world. You learn something new. Powerful cinematography transports you elsewhere. You make new friends (with heroes and heroines), and enemies (with villains) during two hours of escape. Films educate people about the stories of the world. About what has been, what is, and what is yet to come. Film is also one of the creative industries that can advance Nigeria’s global player status and her cultural identity abroad.
With South Korean Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite winning four awards at this year’s Oscars, including “Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Picture” (the latter of which being a first for a film that’s not in English to win the coveted award in the Oscars’ 92-year history), perhaps the start of this decade will mark when stories from the rest of the world will surge into the mainstream.
Eyimofe (This Is My Desire), presented by GDN Studios
There is an old African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” A few years ago, Toke Alex Ibru, Executive Director of The Guardian had a vision born from that proverb. Beyond evolving The Guardian into a News, Media, Entertainment and Technology organisation, he leveraged The Guardian’s trusted and respected brand to organise the best and most committed film industry players under one roof so that, joined together, they can form a more powerful force on the international stage.
This resulted in the creation of GDN Studios (www.gdnstudios.ng), an end-to-end full-service entity that facilitates access into Nigeria for film and creative project co-productions; and it is supported by the Nigerian Film Corporation and State Governments. A truly united effort for the film industry to work and thrive together.
On 24 February, the 70th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) will screen the world premiere of Eyimofe (This Is My Desire), a film directed by Nigerian twin brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri. Funded and shot completely in Nigeria, the film is an example of a powerful story that can have a huge impact on world audiences.
The screenplay, which was written by Chuko Esiri (a 2018 NYU Purple List winner), addresses the much-discussed topic of migration but from a new perspective; one in which we get to know who the people caught in raids and rescued from the sea are, and about their dreams and desires.
Eyimofe is the first Nigerian independent film invited to the Berlinale, and the film has also been nominated for the festival’s GWFF First Feature Film Award.
I personally cannot wait to see the reach that this ‘Big Three’ European film festival can offer this film, and to witness the international reaction to a production of this calibre from my country.
Eyimofe is a more progressive type of film for the Nigerian market. The cinema of Nigeria is often synonymously referred to as Nollywood which has come to dominate the industry.
But Eyimofe is not a Nollywood film in the conventional sense. The process and the approach is very different. The genre is better described as Nigerian Cinema. Eyimofe is an independent film, alongside the calibre of World Cinema.
Perhaps this film can help open up a healthy debate both locally and internationally about the possibilities of the Nigerian film industry.
The ability for the award-winning Eyimofe screenplay to realise its full potential as a film is mainly thanks to GDN Studios and the international standard quality of work it intends to develop.
With a slate of content in development, the next project from GDN Studios is a 3D motion capture animation film which will be released later this year.
The 70th Berlin International Film Festival
The film festival will not only be about the film’s screenings. It is an ideal platform for networking at its special events, for example at the Berlinale Africa Hub at the Marriott Hotel, Berlin between 21-26 February. An interesting and diverse delegation of attendees from Nigeria and the Diaspora, as well as those who support Nigeria are expected to attend.
The Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, His Excellency Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, has already endorsed this big occasion for Nigeria, and has been nothing but encouraging, hoping that films such as Eyimofe will “contribute to Nigeria’s 12.1% Music & Entertainment Industry – the fastest growing in the world.”
I view “The Berlinale” as a powerful platform for an impactful preview. A preview and a vision of what is still to come; of the unlimited potential of the Nigerian Film Industry as a viable business in itself.
We will be landing in Germany in full force: to network, to create awareness about GDN Studios, to forge new relationships and to identify more potential Cultural Ambassadors for the Nigerian film industry.
In Berlin, I’d like to see production companies such as Netflix expressing an interest in taking ownership of this ground-breaking content from one of the markets in which they are trying to grow market share – Nigeria.
The aim is to capture the attention of the international community of not only viewers, but of filmmakers. Furthermore, this would be a great message to members of the Diaspora that this sort of support for new Nigerian films is being gained.
In advance of the world premiere of Eyimofe, New York-based Aspect Radio Sales has the rights to the film (this excludes Africa and Asia), and GDN Studios retains Africa. If you’re interested in learning more about GDN Studios, then please do get in touch with the team at: firstname.lastname@example.org