International day for women: Spotlight on women in film
It was International Women’s Day on Thursday, and as usual, the world’s attention focused on issues, challenges and achievements of women all over the world.
The entertainment world, particularly the movie industry, is regarded as male-dominated. From Hollywood to Bollywood to Nollywood, there are more men than women working in front and behind the camera.
The men call the shots as creative directors and financiers, while the women, until more recently, were practically given a comfortable place that does not include taking the driver’s seat in any filmic project.
But all that seem to be changing now, with the upsurge of women in the driving seat of some of the critically-acclaimed Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood films.
To commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day, Celebrity randomly picks from a long list of leading ladies (an actress, director, production designer and writer/producer) that have shown, with their body of works, that what a man can do, the women can also do or even do better.
A choreographer, activist, caregiver and an actress in the professional class, Hilda Dokubo, a product of the Theatre Arts Department of the University of Port Harcourt and an alumnus of the prestigious Royal College of Arts, London, has maintained a steady position as one of Nigeria’s leading actresses grabbing mostly lead roles on stage and screen.
The native of Buguma in Asaritoru Council of Rivers State has also signed some offerings as producer.
Star of Kunle Afolayan’s big budget movie, The CEO, Hilda presently combines her work as an actor with training and mentoring young people.
A filmmaker with an impressive body of works, Tope Oshin, has in less than one and a half decade of her incursion into television and movie production emerged one of the most significant and prolific female motion picture directors working in Nigeria.
A committed thespian that has her name on the credit line of a number of acclaimed productions, including the engaging television drama, Tinsel, it is a widely acknowledged fact that the focused, amiable, hardworking and unpretentiously friendly thespian has her eyes on the summit.
It is also not in doubt that Tope is gradually becoming a notable figure in the male-dominated directing arm of the Nigerian motion picture industry.
Recipient of so many industry awards and recognitions, including the award of Best Short Film at the 2012 Abuja International Film Festival for her movie, Till Death Do Us Part, and the best director of the 2012 in-short film festival for same movie, Tope, a product of the Theatre Arts Department of the Lagos State University (LASU), earned her first directing credit with the award winning short film, The Young Smoker.
The mother of three has previously worked as a director and assistant director on a number of television drama, reality shows and radio drama.
She revealled that she didn’t find working in a male-dominated industry easy at first, adding: “It was not easy in the beginning. There were always the initial strange looks I got from the men as if they were saying, ‘who is this one and what could she possibly know about filmmaking? But the situation and looks quickly changed when we get into the shoot proper.
“I am never intimidated, not at this point anyway. My love and passion for directing and filmmaking generally far out-shadows whatever fears or concerns may arise.
“Besides, I had about five years of being a practising filmmaking junkie. I read and studied and digested every article and books and all online filmmaking courses I could find.
“I also got out and sought internship here and there, like when I worked on the Apprentice Africa reality television show project as an assistant director and then Tinsel and some television commercials that I handled.
“And gradually, those internships turned to paying jobs as assistant director, associate producer, standby director and then eventually director.
“I thank God for the journey so far. I see this as an opportunity to shine and be an example and encouragement to other women who need the kick to get up and be more than the ordinary and I am totally enjoying this. I love the challenges that come with each job.”
Iyen Agbonifo Obaseki
Immediate past president of the Nigerian Creative Designers Guild (CDGN), a position she has held for so many terms because of the confidence members repose in her abilities to lead them, Iyen Agbonifo Obaseki works in an area of the filmmaking industry- production design- that was hitherto dominated by men.
Born in Benin City, the Edo State capital, to a seamstress and a retired career civil servant, Iyen was educated in Benin City and graduated in flying colours from the former Bendel State University, now Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, where she studied French.
Costumier behind such hit productions, such as Igodo, Izaga, Evil Thing, Real Love, Missing Angel, Cinderella, Deep Secrets, Brave Soldier, Prisoner of Passion, among others, Iyen got her first big job as a costumier when she was assigned to handle the creative aspect of the award winning epic movie Igodo as directed by the duo of Andy Amenechi and Don Pedro Obaseki.
Her effort in that most referenced movie earned her two crests for achievement in costumes and the other make up at the 1999 edition of the defunct The Movie Awards, dubbed THEMA 99.
It took that winning for Iyen’s careers swivel chair to turn full circle. Jobs poured in from then for the second child and the first daughter in a family of seven children, who has costumed a number of stage productions, including Obaseki, Azagidi and Idia.
Since then, there has been no stopping Iyen, who recently got married.
Clearly one of Nollywood’s prolific writers, movie producer and one of the most significant female motion picture practitioners working in Nollywood, Emem Isong-Misodi should rightly take a front seat in the gathering of Nollywood filmmakers, because of her body of works.
She is reputed to have written and produced some of Nollywood’s acclaimed works.
Founder and Head of Faculty of the Royal Arts Academy, a notable training institution in Nollywood, the award-winning scriptwriter and producer trained as a dancer and choreographer at the University of Calabar.
She had a stint as a banker, ventured into filmmaking, set up her own production company, Theatre Images, in 1994 and much later, Royal Arts Academy, and since then, the mother, wife and Akwa-Ibom native has not looked back.
Respected and regarded for her immense contribution to the development of the home video industry, Emem has signed well received works, such as Breaking Point, Emotional Crack, which won the 2003 Reel Awards for Best Actress and Best Upcoming Actress of the Year, respectively, Private Sin, Promise Me Forever, Critical Decision, which got the African Academy Movie Awards (AMAA) Best Actress and Best Actor of the Year award, Games Women Play, Behind Closed Doors, Guilty Pleasure, Games Men Play, the much acclaimed RELOADED, a film that was nominated for 2008 AMAA and won several awards, including City Peoples Award for Best film, Best Producer of the Year and Best Screenplay and more recently, Ayamma, Champagne and Zahra, an advocacy film.
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