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rédacteur
Steve Ayorinde
publié le
02/10/2007
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Nollywood is a model for the world but… Cameron Bailey
NIGERIAN CINEMA IN THE EYES OF CANADA'S MOVIEMEN
NIGERIAN CINEMA IN THE EYES OF CANADA'S MOVIEMEN

STEVE AYORINDE spoke to two of Canada's leading film festival programmers - Cameron Bailey of the Toronto International Film festival and Don Lobel of the Montreal Festival of New Cinema - on their impression of Nollywood. With similar questions asked, their responses extol the video-film revolution and offer insights into how the industry can improve

A Nigerian film, Abeni (Tunde Kelani), was screened at Toronto last year but none this year, why? were you disappointed with our entry in 2006?

I'm still astounded at the size and scope of Nigeria's output of movies. It's a model not just for the rest of Africa but for much of the world. At the same time, the quality - technically, dramatically and conceptually - is often not at an international festival standard. That said, the most important thing is still that I and other people programming for the major festivals see the films. Nigeria's producers need to send us the films that they're most confident in, and to give us the opportunity to premiere their films in Toronto. If I can see the best new Nigerian films early enough, I'd be glad to show more of them in Toronto.

In your view, do Nigerian movies compete yet with other international films?

No. The stories can be irresistible, but it's too often clear that more time could have been spent on the development process, rehearsals and the shoot itself. Audiences at a Festival like Toronto are raised on a diet of the best commercial and art cinema in the world; by comparison, many Nigerian movies can look sloppy, awkward or predictable. That's what makes the occasional standout all the more exciting.

What is your general view of Nigerian movies in terms of style, genre and narrative?
Nigeria's film culture of the past decade is one of the most exhilarating developments in world cinema. It's popular filmmaking at its most essential. Just like Hong Kong in the 70s or Hollywood in the early 20s, filmmakers in Nigeria seem to be acutely in tune with local popular tastes. As a result, the films can become hits far and wide. Sooner or later the exuberance of scale of the production will allow real artists to emerge, just as the American popular movies produced Chaplin, or Hong Kong produced John Woo and Tsui Hark. It's only a matter of time.

What are your thoughts about Nigeria's fixation with video and digital cinema in a global film arena?

Right now the international standard is still 35mm, but that is changing fast. High-definition video will soon replace it for many kinds of feature films. Nigeria is in a good position, because its filmmakers are already experienced in video. But the question is not film or video, or even low- versus high-budgets. The entire Dogme movement that started in Denmark, was based on low-budget video, and some of the most internationally successful filmmakers of the past few years have been doing the same - shooting on cheap, plentiful video. What makes these filmmakers successful - everywhere from the U.S. to Iran to the Philippines - is how skilled they are at human observation, and how they use video to get closer and closer to the behavioural detail of their characters. Naturalism is video's great asset; Nigerian filmmakers should have a look at what Abbas Kiorastami or Brillante Mendoza do with the same technology.

What do you look for in selecting films for TIFF?
A film that excels at the goals that it sets for itself is my first test. After that, I'm always interested in unique visions, and in seeing films that show original or profound insight into human nature. Overall, I'm looking for filmmakers with good pairs of eyes.

How close is Nigeria to winning the People's Choice award in Toronto and perhaps the OSCAR?
These may be false goals. A better question is how close is Nigeria to capturing the complex, nuanced detail of its own people on screen? How close is Nigeria to pushing beyond formula to find surprising, original visions?

What can Nollywood benefit from Toronto in concrete terms?
Nollywood can come to Toronto and connect with all the top players in the English-speaking film industry. At the same time, unlike Cannes, Toronto can provide the best test audience any global filmmaker could ever find. To top it off, when the right films are there, we will actually invite Nigerian movies into official selection.
You might also ask how can Toronto benefit from Nollywood? We can use the business savvy and the storytelling sense that has developed to such a high level in Nigeria. We would benefit from becoming a hub where Nollywood meets Hollywood meets Bollywood and so on. The world comes to Toronto for our Festival, and we need Nigeria there.

STEVE AYORINDE

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   liens films

Abeni 2006
Tunde Kelani

Abeni 2 2006
Tunde Kelani


   liens artistes

Bailey Cameron


Kelani Tunde


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