For Ajai-Lycett, Nollywood lacks filmic foresight

Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett

Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett

In a rare moment of anger laced with passion, screen and stage matriarch Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett indicted Nigeria’s film industry, also known as Nollywood, for being too laidback in its filmic interventions especially in the face of harrowing, contemporary social lack in the country. She expressed dismay with the industry at the sneak preview of Udoka Oyeka’s film on terrorism No Good Turn last Friday at Silverbird Galleria, Lagos. The film has the support of Bolanle Austin-Peters Production (BAP) and Ford Foundation.

Ajai-Lycett charged that Nollywood was not focused on topical issues that daily plague Nigerians in its filmic realisation, and said Oyeka’s film was an indictment of the industry to wake up from its slumber to the realities of social deprivations stalking the land.

She stated, “The film seems to be about somebody discussing contemporary issues in Nigeria. Today in Nigeria, we don’t have schools, no hospitals, no roads, no love and no romance. Yet we have a thriving film industry but it is not talking about these issues. It’s an indictment of Nollywood. It’s about awareness. We have people outside the country not talking right about us and we have a medium. We need to tell our stories in a more intelligent way. We need to move forward and tell our stories right”.

Also, Oyeka said he was not sure artists (for which he is one as a filmmaker) have not done enough to highlight the plague terrorism represents and as encapsulated by the Boko Haram menace. He noted after the preview, “I’m not sure we’re doing enough; not sure we have done enough on terrorism. For me that was the agenda. I was working on another story then I read something on terrorism and went for it. I just want to create awareness. I just wanted to put people in that space again and keep the topic hot and going. I wanted to spike awareness of terrorism in Nigeria. I wanted people to be in the Northeast, right in that space of terror and feel what those affected are feeling”.

Project sponsor Mrs. Bolanle Austin-Peters of BAP and CEO of Terra Kulture said it was the first movie that appealed to her because of the uniqueness of the script, as film is not her focus. “At Terra Kulture we do theatre to create entertainment and fun. We promoted Kunle Afolayan’s October 1. After that people brought films to us. So, I told Oyeka that if we’re going to do movies, it has to have social message, has to be very sensitive and very topical. We can’t shy away from these. I have since moved on to Ebola story 93 days. So, it has to have a social message for me to be in it. This was the first movie I did. It gives visibility to the issue of terrorism. We tend to forget the pain. There’s the human side to the Boko Haram issue. I admire Udoka a lot, his tenacity, hard work and sincerity”.

Also for Mr. Innocent Chukwuma of Ford Foundation, the social justice philanthropy focus of the film was what made supporting the appealing to them. “We’re in social justice philanthropy and we do projects that question the status quo. We’ve held a forum with Nollywood and we told them there are larger issues in society that they needed to focus their lens on; it’s part of a project we’re doing for the Nollywood ecosystem. We support traditions that support social justice”.

With a soulful sound track In the City performed by Brymo, Oyeka’s No Good Turn will bring viewers in direct contact with the bloodbath that is Boko Haram – the bombing of a police station and a market in one day. The chaotic scene, the bloodbath, and the sheer suffering unleashed on fellow humans by another.

Here, the bomber survives, but with broken limbs and damaged face. The police chief charges in and demands to kill the heartless bomber who reduces his men to rubbles. The hospital’s staff is horror-stricken, but can’t do much. News gets to the doctor who has been battling to save lives that his pregnant wife is among the victims in the market tragedy.

Between police chief and doctor angling for revenge, what becomes the fate of the bomber in the hospital? For the doctor, the story moves from those of wounded strangers he had to treat to acquire a personal, painful tone…

Proper premiere date is yet to be set for No Good Turn that parades Norbert Young, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Iretiola Doyle, Udoka Oyeka and Liz Benson-Ameye among others.

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