Over the past few months I’ve been watching a lot of classic movies and movies about/shot in Africa. I remember watching some of these movies when I was younger, but I never really understood what these movies were about or appreciated the importance of good film making. As a lover of the motion picture, I’m the kind of person that will watch a bad movie just so I can say I’ve seen it and can say “yep it was bad”; and go on to be philosophical about why said movie was bad. I’ve seen so many movies that it’s not enough anymore for a movie to be simply entertaining – it also has to be well made and push the boundaries of cinematography, have a well written screen play, and a compelling narrative.

Needless to say, I’ve been disappointed with many of the movies I’ve seen lately. Folks that know me are probably getting tired of me coming back from the theater and having the same one word response to the question, “How was the movie?” Lazy! Movies are just lazy these days. They never seem to push the envelope or go the extra mile to turn a very good movie into a great movie.

It was while I was thinking about the laziness of movies and watching “I Dreamed of Africa” starring Kim Basinger and a very young looking Daniel Craig, that it struck me- I only get one of these light bulb moments about once a week, so I take them very seriously!

You see I’ve spent the last few months and weeks re-watching movies like “Nowhere in Africa”, “Out of Africa”, “The Ghost and the Darkness” and “Casablanca”, and just like the Europeans in these movies, I love that Africa! What’s there not to love? It’s beautiful, peaceful, rugged and innocent-basically a paradise on earth. I kept thinking, what happened to that Africa?

 

There was a period when the movies made about Africa were romantic and painted a picture of a wondrous place where dreamers went to change their lives. That’s the Africa I remember and that’s the Africa I saw last year during the world cup in South Africa. It was eerie feeling to be a new country that I had never been in before but still have that feeling of familiarity.

Maybe I only feel this way because I don’t live on the continent, but there is a longing for Africa that I feel every now and then that is very hard to describe to a non-African (a South African executive at work I met with two months ago could sense it in my voice 10 minutes into our 1 hour conversation). A longing that has no boundaries or countries in mind, just the yearning to be anywhere; feeling the warmth of people, the smell of the air, and to catch a glimpse of the dirt, wide open plains and thick forests.

These movies reminded me of the power of movies to capture our imagination and show the very best of ourselves. Granted, I don’t watch a lot of Nollywood movies –mostly because of what I said earlier about what I look for in a good movie-but the few I’ve seen seem don’t seem to understand the responsibility they have for painting the picture of our country and the continent that we want to remain in the minds of movie goers. I’m disappointed that the love of my continent isn’t inspired by the latest hit from Lagos, but from a 20 year old Hollywood movie about Germans, or Italians or Danes experiencing Africa.

 

So here are a few questions for everyone to think about:

When you think of Africa, what do you think of? And do you think our movie industry has a responsibility to once again remind the world Africa is still a land of possibility and the ultimate field of dreams?


Finally, can you recommend a Nollywood movie that you think should be recognized as one that truly romanticizes Africa? I’m giving Nollywood and ye FAB ones an opportunity to set me straight!

O

4 Responses

  1. Juliana

    Great article. I think Hollywood likes to portray an image of Africa to the world that only exists to sell blockbuster movies and that’s all. I would have more of an ifinity to the movies you mentioned above if the news stories discussed in the West portrayed Africa in the same light – but they don’t, quite the opposite really.
    Nollywood has become a multibillion dollar internationally loved industry because it captures the rawness of Africa – particularly Nigeria – that Hollywood is afraid to show. There are no extremes in our filmmaking, besides the outlandish storylines, what you see is very much what you get. The noise, the discrimination, the lows, the love, the struggle. Hollywood hide this in their filmmaking unless necessary to the plot – by making us look jet black and happy all the time, or only show a negative side.
    Africans show Africans best. I’m sick of hollywoods depiction of us. There has already been outcry because they continue to use White women to play te lead role of cleopatra.

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  2. Juliana

    Oh.. By the way. Genevieve Nnaji in Mirror Boy is amazing. I highly recommend.

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  3. Sharon

    FAB article Oseyi, its nice to know that I’m not the only person that feels like Nollywood isn’t doing enough…. Agreed, the industry has grown and all but it hasn’t grown because of quality, it has grown because of quantity. I’ve been part of nollywood for over 10 years and I have to say, I am not impressed at all…. We have too much potential but like Oseyi said, alot of us are LAZY… We’re just content with the little things we do. I’ve seen a couple of our so-called “blockbusters” and I must say, none impressed me. There’s always something missing. I’m looking forward to seeing a nollywood movie with good acting, location, picture quality, proper interpretation and every other thing all in one. I can’t recommend anyone and I’m pained by this…. About Cleopatra, Charlize Theron is probably the only African actress that might be able to interpret that xter… but why use her when Angelina Jolie has everything it takes….

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  4. Oseyi

    I’ll definitely have to check out Mirror Boy – Juliana, I will hold you personally responsible if I’m not singing it’s praises after watching it!
    I’m not saying Nollywood isn’t trying to depict the “real Africa”, I’m just saying they are dropping the ball on making anyone want to fall in love with the Africa they are selling…because the film making isn’t compelling and cos’ they don’t seem to understand that they have an obligation to do so…No one will give a 10 year old a gold star for knowing how to spell her name, so we shouldn’t give Nollywood a pass…we’re critics, we reward excellence not effort, that’s our job!

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