In a profession dominated by men, it is not uncommon to find women who are strutting their stuff. But despite the desire to raise their head above the water, there are challenges they have to deal with.
So when the late Amaka Igwe went into film production in the 80s, little did she know how much inspiration she will bring to a generation of female filmmakers.
It was in her memory, and to honour other females in the film industry that filmmaker Tope Oshin put together a documentary, Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood.
Screened to movie enthusiasts at this year’s Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) on Wednesday, the documentary takes it viewers into the minds of female movie directors and the challenges they have had to live with.
A sombre ambience that drew nostalgia, viewers were reminded of one of Amaka Igwe’s famed mantra; “I will give to you what I have, added to what you have so that you can be more than me.”
The documentary chronicles women directors and the peculiar challenges they have had to deal with. From difficult cameramen to unreceptive cast members, one thing they all agree on is that moviedom is a difficult turf to foray.
However, women in the movie industry have refused to let their guard down as is evident in such film festivals as AFRIFF, Light’s Camera Action, and the Africa Movie Academy Awards, all floated by women.
As the documentary puts it, “Amaka Igwe stood as a lone but very strong voice in the Nigerian movie industry.” Her film credit tells it all; from Checkmate, Fuji House of Commotion to Rattlesnake, Igwe charted a course that is hard to follow.
As Omoni Oboli puts it, she’s been a force to reckon with. Even in death, she’s still there.”
Mildred Okwoh, on the other hand, opines that “it is because of the sacrifices that people like Amaka Igwe made that I can stand here today.”
Among other film directors who were interviewed in the documentary are Belinda Yanga-Agehda, Adeola Osunjoko, Patience Ochre Imhobio, Blessing Effiong-Egbe, and Stephanie Linus.
In one of her many speeches which formed part of the documentary, the late filmmaker aptly captures the true state of the Nigerian movie industry. “We started making films, coping with no NEPA. So even if we don’t know how to use editing suites, we’ve been able to make fire come out of the mouth of people like Patrick Doyle. And we have put some people inside bottle, like RMD. So we’ve tried. Nollywood seeks to entertain a mass audience in search of more socio-culturally relevant stories. That’s what we do. We are not telling stories about explosions on bridges, or the destruction of the white house. Try and shoot that you destroyed Aso Rock and see where you’ll land. That’s who we are. Even when a woman died at 88, somebody said the enemies have done their worst… those are the things that bother Nigerians and that’s what we are telling.” (The Nation)