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Banana Island: Silly Plot, Cartoonish Acting
Just what exactly is Banana Island Ghost trying to say? The Wedding Party is meant to make us laugh at ourselves; Isoken is about the pressure society imposes on a thirty something year old woman to marry; Gidi Blues lays out the seedier side of Lagos and pans in on the city’s losers and winners. Omugwo highlights that “it takes a village to raise a child”. Okafor’s Law contends that boys will be boys. And for all the wrinkles in its delivery, 10 Days in Sun City makes a strong argument against the case that money can always buy love. Banana Island Ghost comes across as testifying that a work of art doesn’t have to be message-laden. Which is okay. But that means it is either utterly entertaining, creates lots of laughter, is fun filled or considerably thoughtful, like ’76, the country’s best movie of the last two years. It is none of those things. The producers are excited by the idea of a character who can appear and disappear at will. They struggle with the notion of triumph of good over evil. A young man dies in a ghastly motor accident, and finds himself among people who are mourning the aftermath. He is a ghost. “God” appears to him in resplendent white dress and “God” and man agree he can get back into the world and fulfil his wish to find a soul mate. There are memorable scenes of beautiful camera work, like the picture of the canoe on the lagoon in the shadow of the Third Mainland Bridge. From time to time, there are hints that the film is heading somewhere; someone drops the hint that “your purpose in life is to let others find theirs”. Nice quote. As the transcendental “God”, Bimbo Manuel delivers, as always. Patrick Diabuah and Chigul do what they are told to do and end up being cartoonish. Overall, this movie is slapdash.

Prince Claus Screens Diawara’s An Opera of the World 
Prince Claus Fund, the Amsterdam based culture development charity, will be screening the Dutch premiere of Manthia Diawara’s film   An Opera of the World at the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam on September 7, 2017. The book Bintou Wéré, African Opera by Koulsy Lamko will also be launched at the event. Following the screening of the film, a conversation with Diawara and Lamko will be moderated by Els van der Plas, founding Director of the Prince Claus Fund (1997-2010), who is now the General Director of Dutch National Opera & Ballet. The background to the September 7, 2017 event goes back 10 to 15 years. In 2007, Bintou Wéré, a Sahel Opera premiered in Bamako, Mali. It later sold out to enthusiastic audiences in Amsterdam and Paris. “It had never been done before: an African story of the pull and torments of migration told in operatic form, composed, designed, choreographed and performed by Africans from 13 countries in the Sub-Saharan region”, says Diawara, himself a widely respected Malian-American filmmaker and scholar. In An Opera of the World, Diawara produces a cinematic retelling of the opera that explores the African traditions it draws on and the contemporary relevance of its themes. He says his inspiration came from Édouard Glissant’s concept of ‘Chaos-Opera’: ‘To create relationships between Bintou Wéré, and all the human migrations that took place before it, after it, or at the same time… an encounter between words, music and dance, which attempts to make sense of human movements and the new cultures that are born out of them.’ The world premiere of An Opera of the World was co-produced and hosted by Documenta 14, the huge, quinquennial art exhibition in Kassel Germany, earlier this year.

Rele: Three Things We Look For
Is it different? That’s the first thing we ask ourselves about a collection of work that an artist shows us”, says Adenrele Sonariwo, owner of Rele Gallery. “Does it have a consciousness raising theme?”, is the second question, she says. “And because we are a commercial gallery, we ask ourselves, “will these works sell?” That is how the three year old contemporary art space, located on Military Street in the Onikan Cultural precinct on Lagos Island, determines which artist should be exhibited. These questions are constantly debated by Ms. Sonariwo and her three person group of gallery officers. “We do studio visits and artists come to us”, she says, on the sidelines of the opening of the exhibition Nihin, Lohun (Here and There), by Monsur Awotunde, which runs until August 27, 2017. In its relatively short life span, Rele Gallery has established itself as one of the busier art spaces in the city. Sonariwo contests the view that she’s a new comer, stressing that the work she has done as a pop up gallerist, as well as the salon exhibits she has put up in her house in Lekki several years before opened Rele indicate she’s been around for close to a decade. Rele runs mentorship programmes as well as conversations with artists and culture enthusiasts. The fact that it has high ambition is reflected in its organising a Nigerian representation at the 2017 edition of the prestigious Venice Biennale, which runs till September 2017. To a question about which Nigerian artists are her favourites, Sonariwo, a princess of Remo town in the north of Lagos, doesn’t hesitate to answer “Peju Alatise and Victor Ehikhamenor”, but then she quickly explains that “that’s because I am just returning from Venice” (where the works of these two visual artists are part of the three that Rele Gallery is exhibiting as the Nigerian representation at the Biennale). This inevitably leads to an inquiry about the generational mix in Rele’s exhibition schedule. The ongoing exhibit is of works of an artist whose professional studio practice is barely a decade old. Rele’s last exhibition was the first solo outing of Ayoola Omogbolahan, a painter who boasts a 20 year career and before then the gallery hosted the photographs of Eloghosa Osunde, whose first time out was just in 2015. Osunde’s show at the venue was preceded by the Goethe Institut curated exhibition on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and its present-day impacts, meant to be a grand affair but constrained by Rele’s small space and the Goethe director’s poor matching of the several expressions that make up the show.

CORA Selects 15 Books For 19Th LABAF
The 19th edition of the Lagos Book and Art Festival will feature discussions around 15 books, it is official. There will also be 15 sub-events in the overall event, which will run for a full week, mostly at the Freedom Park, in the Onikan Cultural Precinct, Lagos, from November 6 to 12, 2017. The theme, announced at the end of the 18th edition last year, is Eruptions: Global Fractures and Our Common Humanity, is informed by the convulsions in the global political and economic space; the sort of angst that’s led to the emergence of Donald Trump in the United States, the decision by 17.4Million British voters to leave the European Union, the growing sympathy of Eastern Nigerian youth for Biafra Secession, the unrelenting scourge of Islamic fundamentalism in our country’s North east, the siege on Europe by Islamic militias and the various eruptions in the polity that unsettle us all.

Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency



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