Dignitaries honour Kunle Afolayan at book launch
The Agip Recital Hall of the Muson Centre, Lagos, yesterday, played host to notable Nigerians from the political, business, academic and movie sectors, when young filmmaker, Kunle Afolayan, launched a book version of his award-winning flick, The Figurine.
It was not a run-of–the–mill event, judging by the stance associated with poor reading culture. But the presence of filmmakers, actors and other entertainers gave it the glitz, comparable to any A-list event.
Entitled Auteuring Nollywood: Critical Perspective on The Figurine, the literature was edited by the filmmaker’s brother, Dr. Adeshina Afolayan of the Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan. The book follows the life and creative work of the auteur in a critique that underscores him as a new generation filmmaker who is redefining the Nigerian motion picture industry otherwise called Nollywood.
With comic start-off by notable comedian and master of ceremonies, Gbenga Adeyinka, the mood appeared assuaged for the critical review of the book by Mr. Ikechukwu Obiaya, Director of Nollywood Study Centre, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos.
“This is a highly impressive book. Hope it will be the first of many more to come of Kunle Afolayan’s works,” said the reviewer who also praised the quality and outlook of the book.
Incidentally, Obiaya had reviewed the movie when it was released years back. According to him, the book provides other insights into the artistic life of the filmmaker, which he finds commendable.
Speaking about the unusual transition of having a film adapted into a book, the filmmaker said the need was initiated by his brother, as a way to satisfy other educational purposes.
The Figurine tells the story of the myth surrounding the history of ‘Araromire’, a clan whose fate of ups and downs is determined by the figurine.
Afolayan, who had since shot two other well-acclaimed films, Phone Swap and October 1, described the book as a novelty.
Citing events that led to the decision to have the film in a book form, the auteur said the idea was first muted by his elder brother, with whom he had not been acquainted for years, owing to their ideological differences.
“We used to fight a lot when we were kids, and this was because when our parents were away for their Yoruba travelling theater business, monies for upkeep were usually in the custody of my elder brother, who would spend most of the money to buy books and newspapers. He was so addicted to books and that didn’t go well with me. One day, I gathered the books and newspapers and sold them to a boli (roast plantain) seller in return for some snack. That caused a fight between my brother and me. So, upon the completion of this book on my movie, The Figurine, he brought a copy for me to see and I shed tears. It was tears of joy, partly because this is about me and my work, and because I have never read a book so detailed in its analysis.”
The event was chaired by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, former Minister of National Planning. Soft-spoken, Gbadamosi led the pact of accolades that poured in for the filmmaker. He praised the ingenuity of the Afolayans as people who have challenged many in the creative industry.
For Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, CEO of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), other young filmmakers should follow the footsteps of Kunle, whom she described as a thorough and dedicated filmmaker. She, however, expressed worries that while Afolayan struggles to get money to make his movies, those who could not make good movies find money easily because of who they know.
According to the AMAA boss, “Kunle Afolayan’s film, Irapada, was the first film from Nigeria to make it to major international film festival circuits.”
In the same vein, foremost stand-up comedian, Atunyota Akporobomerere, aka Ali Baba, while eulogising Afolayan for his works, decried a situation whereby most Nollywood filmmakers were not original in their works. He said: “The art of filmmaking is not a joke,’ adding that “comedy itself is a serious business.” According to the comedian, it is worrisome how some of the jokes he had done years back, are still being recycled in Nollywood films today.
The demand for the story in book form may not be unconnected with the success of its motion picture, after five years of cinema and home video exposure and winning five awards, including Best Film category at the prestigious Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), while also making impacts at film festival circuits.
Afolayan noted that a critical work of art goes beyond mere rhetoric and images on the screen, saying: “Releasing one’s movie to scholarly interrogation like this is one of the next levels for our film industry to climb and I’m excited that this is already happening through my film.”
Packaged by Relentless Media, in conjunction with Golden Effects Services, the event was also attended by Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji; Chief Samuel Adedoyin, Chairman of Doyin Group of Companies and Prince Deji Oni, representing the governor of Kwara State.
Others are notable filmmakers Chief Tunde Oloyede, Tunde Kelani, Mahmood Ali-Balogun and comedians such as Babyface and Kofi.
With the foreword by Prof. Jonathan Haynes of the Long Island University, USA, the book, a collection of scholarly essays, is the first of its kind that is devoted to the work of a single Nigerian film director. It interrogates the thematic focus and cinematic style employed in The Figurine, while also using that singular work to engage the new trends in Nollywood.
Other contributors to the 455-page book include Dr. Sola Osofisan, Dr. Dele Layiwola, Dr. Chukwuma Okoye, Jane Thorburn, Matthew H. Brown, Gideon Tanimonure, A.G.A Bello, Foluke Ogunleye and Prof. Hyginus Ekwuazi.
An ‘Afterword’ on “Neo-Nollywood and its Other” by the prolific scholar, Dr. Onookome Okome, is also provided in the book, in addition to a series of interviews with key actors and technicians who featured in The Figurine.
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