Northwestern University: Introducing the Unique Cinema of Femi Odugbemi

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A presentation by Professor Paul Ugor at the Block Museum Theatre, Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois on Thursday 26th October, 2017.

Femi-Nollywood-groupIt’s been more than a decade and half since Prof Jonathan Haynes introduced American culture enthusiasts to the Nigerian video film industry, now popularly known as Nollywood. And since then, although Nollywood has not become part of mainstream American popular culture, it is no longer the cultural curiosity it was two decades ago. It is quite common these days to be asked about Nollywood by strangers at a bus stop, a train, a long-haul flight or a coach station. This consciousness in the American cultural imagination of Nollywood is traceable to the huge coverage that the industry has received in the media. Also, quite a lot has been written by American academics on the industry; courses about the Nigeria video film industry are now being taught in North American universities/colleges; and major festivals in the United States, Canada, the UK, France and other first world cultural circuits are beginning to feature Nollywood films. But this growing cultural interest in NollywoodIMG_5786 still has something to do with the multiple ways in which the industry is perceived as a unique cultural wonder quite apart and different from what Americans know. It is a film industry that operates without studios; doesn’t boost of the jaw-dropping budgets associated with Hollywood production; operates with very minimal technology compared to the endless technological assets of Hollywood cinema; uses mostly non-professional actors; and yet is able to produce an astounding number of films every year—1500 films. So, the continued cultural interest that Nollywood generates amongst Americans derives from the perception that it not only different but also unconnected with the American culture industry.

But historical evidence will suggest otherwise. Not only is Nollywood a product of the vast network of both formal and informal global cultural resources circulating the world today as Brian Larkin has so astutely shown in his work, Signal and Noise, it is also a direct outcome of the technical training from the West. As Jon Haynes points out in his encyclopedic history of Nollywood (2016), the first generation of mainstream Nollywood practitioners were trained by the BBC. So not only did Nollywood practitioners draw from established transnational genres like the Latin America Telenovelas that were so popular in West Africa in the early 1980s, it drew from the technical skills of metropolitan cultural producers in creating a uniquely local genre that has continued to grip the attention of its indigenous audiences. Femi Odugbemi, the Nollywood director and producer whose films feature in this two-day event on Nollywood, also confronts us with the somewhat indirect influence that the United States has contributed, even if inadvertently, in shaping an industry that it perceives as quite different from its own film industry.

exif_temp_image 3Born in the early 1960s in the highly cosmopolitan city of Lagos, Nigeria, Odugbemi grew up in a young postcolonial nation that was full of excitement about independence and high optimism about its future. It was a new nation anxious about its future, but also highly enthusiastic about reinventing itself as an independent nation state with its own national culture. But the conscious cultural engineering that was ongoing in the new nation did not mean that it closed itself to the outside world. Recognizing itself as part of larger global cultural community, especially with newfound petro-wealth in the 1970s, Nigeria was a fertile ground for transnational cross-cultural influences. There were Hollywood westerns and Bollywood films, from which Odugbemi learnt how imagery, sound, visual composition, plot, and other elements of cinema could be used in telling stories and constructing social meaning. But there was also the United State Information Service, the cultural organ of American embassies whose main role was to promote and circulate American culture abroad. It was in one of his numerous visits to USIS that he saw the admission brochure of Montana State University which had a program in Broadcast Communication with specialization in Film, Radio and Television production. Without the knowledge and approval of his accountant father, but drawn inexorably by the cultural images of plenitude and the enchantments of American modernity, Odugbemi left Nigeria at the impressionable age of 16 to begin his studies in the United States in 1979. At MSU, Odugbemi was mentored by Dr. Rebecca Moore, the department Academic Advisor, who took incredible interest in his studies; Dr Jack Hyppa, Chair of the Department who became his trainer; Dr. Jim Carter, a close friend, and Dr. Craig Stewart, a Professor at MSU who also coached Bozeman United, the City soccer team.

These Americans didn’t just help Odugbemi integrate into the American culture, they provided him with the training that was to shape his career as a filmmaker, media consultant and political activist. Dr. Hyppa, for example, was the founder of KUSM CH9 TV station, where Odugbemi worked as an intern all through his years at MSU. It was at KUSM Channel 9TV that Odugemi honed his skills as a filmmaker. As he himself put in a personal interview with me, “I learned a lot by doing things hands-on at KUSM 9.” So, the foundational skills that Odugbemi has brought to the production of his films are clearly American. But most importantly, it was from the United States that Femi was to learn the politics of cultural production. As a firsthand witness to the cultural power of the entertainment industry in American politics, economy and culture, it was in the United States that Femi’s artistic philosophy was shaped, recognizing himself as part of the that powerful elite group, ‘organizers of culture,’ which Antonia Gramsci insisted was responsible for directing and shaping the values of any modern society. The foundational philosophical principle that was to shape Odugbemi’s work as a filmmaker, artist, cultural philosopher and public intellectual is very much rooted in his knowledge of the ways in which the culture industry in the United States has functioned so powerfully as a crucial public organ and infrastructure with a powerful ‘index of effectivity, i.e., the power to determine things in the realm of politics, economy, culture, and the general future of the nation and its people. Whether it was the explosive activism led by youth in the 1960s that was to change the cultural and political landscape of the United States, the media vigilance of the 1970s that brought down President Nixon, or the vociferous resistance mounted by cultural producers to Reganism and its pursuit of unbridled neoliberal economics, Odugbemi saw firsthand how the American culture industry changed the course of a nation’s history, ensuring always that social justice and equity were never privileges to be bought and sold by the high and mighty.

IMG_5830So, it is no wonder, then, that Femi Odugbemi’s politics as a filmmaker is quite unique from many of his Nollywood contemporaries. He belongs to a generation of Nollywood directors who see themselves not only as adapting the new global media resources, especially digital technologies, in creating unique cultural texts that capture the particular national histories, daily individual struggles and collective coping strategies of ordinary people in a postcolonial nation whose leaders have sold their souls to the devil, but also as crucial interventionists whose cultural work represent a certain kind of radical cultural politics and thought for progressive creative work in a time of massive social and cultural transformations.

So, although Odugbemi sees himself first as a filmmaker, he also frames his films as part of activist work, which explains why a filmmaker who earns enormous income mainly from making popular Television serials and cutting TV ads and other media promos for huge multinationals such as Guinness, Nestle Foods, Coca-Cola, Shell, MTN, and other such multinational companies, will plow back his profits into the making of documentaries. As an artist, Odugbemi is very much aware of the power of his medium. In an interview with Chuks Nwanne of the Guardian Newspaper published on May 29, 2016, he noted, “…everybody listens to a rich man, everybody listens to political leaders, but a filmmaker invades the thought of the viewer by the power of his art. Just like a writer would, just like an architect might, but the power of the filmmaker is that today, more people watch films than read books. So, the filmmaker has even become more powerful; it becomes such an incredible drill in the hands of someone who is an artiste.” This not the rhetoric of a conventional Nollywood director driven by commercial instincts. In fact, this is the stuff one heard from traditional African cinema director such as Ousmane Sembene, Haile Gerima, Med Hondo and other pioneers driven by pan-Africanist ideological pursuits. It is also reminiscent of the creative philosophy expounded by the early modern African literary giants such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and other leading writers and ‘organic intellectuals’ from the continent who saw themselves as educators and the voice of vision for the African continent. It is no wonder that Odugbemi shot that documentary on Ibadan, chronicling the unique legacy of the old city of Ibadan as the hub of intellectual work that was to shape the continent. But not only does Odugbemi know the power of cinema as a cultural medium of mass communication, he is aware of his role as a voice of change, especially in a nation experiencing stagnation and a chronic decline. Although very much a product of American education and culture, Odugbemi insists that Nollywood must chart its own path: “If your art is not saying anything; if all you keep doing is referencing things that were done in America; if it’s not addressing the imbalances, if it’s not talking about the imperatives of leadership; if it’s not issue driven; if you are not using that time with the audience in such a way as to impact them, to cause them to think, to cause them to have the vision of possibilities that can affect your community for the better, then you’ve got a noisy drill.” This is clearly an artist who is acutely aware of himself both as a visual historian or archivist and an activist.

Media Coverage1One of the ways in which he has pursued his activism through film production has been the extensive attention he pays to the urban space. It is almost as though the organization of the urban space functions as a mirror for the larger culture and society. Repeatedly, his films turn to urban injustice, especially through the unequal ways in which access to urban space is restricted to some and opened to others. In his film, Maroko, we see a visual account of the devastating effects of the forcible evacuation of 300,000 inhabitants of Maroko, a slum neighborhood in Lagos that was gentrified in the 1990s. What Maroko reveals is a powerful visual portrait of the militarization of the urban space in the Nigeria and elsewhere in the African postcolony where, as Merrifield and Swyngedouw argue, “the rich and powerful can decant and steer the poor into clearly demarcated zones in the city, where implicit and explicit forms of social control keep them in place” (11)]. In Makoko, Odugemi turns his lens again to the politics of urban spatiality, showing us how 180, 000 Nigerian citizens are trapped in a cycle of poverty and uncertainty. Located only a few miles from Victorian Island, perhaps the wealthiest suburb of Lagos, and tucked under the sprawling Lagos mainland bridge, what Makoko discloses is a sickening account of how the poor and marginalized not only live in the valley of the shadow of death, but also how they are left to float aimlessly without support and direction. It is a harrowing account of how a sick nation led by leaders without conscience can become a threat to its own citizens. But if Odugemi focuses a lot on urban injustice in Maroko and Makoko, he is not unaware of the incredible accomplishments of young people who work daily to squeeze out beauty from the guts of privation. It is that alternative narrative of the resilience of those abandoned by their nation that he offers us in Bariga Boy. The story of Segun Adefila, a young Nigerian choreographer and theatre practitioner whose creative exceptionalism has captured the attention of both local and international audiences, is a testimony to the creativity and ingenuity of a young generation that has found alternative routes out of poverty and unconventional strategies to survive and make meaning of their lives when the traditional approaches to securing a stable future have failed.

exif_temp_image 7My whole point, then, is that we are gathered here not only to showcase the work of a man who has made a name for himself as a visual historian of contemporary life in Nigeria, but also to remind ourselves of the subtle ways in which America has been an active participant in shaping one of the most vibrant popular art forms to come from Africa.

Dr. Paul Ugor is Professor of English literature at the Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, United States. He is the author of the best-selling book Nollywood: Popular Video Films and Narratives of Marginalized Youth.”

Mayowa-Oluyeba

GUARDIAN: Hooray for Nollywood at Illinois State University

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Nigerian Filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi will be on the campus of Illinois State University, Monday and Tuesday discussing his work- THE GUARDIAN NIGERIA, For The Pantagraph.

Here’s something we didn’t know yesterday,

But now we do today.

All thanks to a special event this week coming to Illinois State University and environs.

Since we proud Yanks doubtless assume that Hollywood’s all-pervasive film output rules the world, here’s the truth: India is the world’s largest producer of filmed entertainment.

Which means, we’re only No. 2?

Nope, not even that.

The second most prolific producer of filmed entertainment on earth is … Nigeria.

Yes, Nigeria.

As a consequence, the West African nation has earned itself the title of “Nollywood,” in deference to the India movie industry’s being labeled as “Bollywood” (never mind that the term was coined solely as a glib reference to Hindi language cinema produced/based in the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra … not the country as a whole).

“Nollywood is the second-largest film industry in the world,” confirms Paul Ugor, an assistant professor of English at ISU who is coordinating a series of events Monday and Tuesday, all the better to enlighten us.

According to Ugor, Nollywood produces nearly 1,500 films annually vs. the average of 550 produced per year through Hollywood channels (that latter figure is per an estimate made two years ago by show business bible Variety).

Nigeria’s annual output is worth some $3.3 billion to its economy, says Ugor, who characterizes the evolution of Nollywood as “an incredible story of creativity.”

In short: “This is the story of how artists in West Africa are adapting global media technologies in creating indigenous art forms that allow them to talk to their local audiences about the things that matter to ordinary people.”

As its centerpiece, the two-day ISU event will feature a visit by one of Nollywood’s premier filmmakers, Femi Odugbemi, along with a mini-festival of his films.

Born 52 years ago in Lagos State in southwestern Nigeria, Odugbemi studied filmmaking at Montana State University before returning home to work in television, documentaries and features.

The ISU events, which are all free, kick off at noon Monday in Stevenson Hall 401, where guest speaker Jonathan Hayes, author of “The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres,” will set the stage with a talk, “Trajectories of the Nigerian Film Industry.”

At 3 p.m., Odugbemi will attend an exhibition of his own photography and a display of Nollywood film posters in ISU’s University Galleries in the Uptown Station. There, he’ll share stories of both the photos and his films.

At 7 p.m., the action moves to the Normal Theater, where Odugbemi’s acclaimed romantic comedy, “Gidi Blues: A Lagos Love Story,” will be screened. It’s about what happens when a playboy from an affluent family meets a community volunteer in the city’s worst slum.

The director will attend the showing and participate in a post-screening discussion.

Tuesday’s events begin at noon in Stevenson Hall 101, with a screening of Odugbemi’s documentary, “MAKOKO: Futures Afloat,” a look at the sprawling poverty-stricken fishing community adjacent to bustling Lagos.

At 5 p.m., a third Odugbemi film, “And the Chain Was Not Broken,” will be screened in Capen Auditorium in Edwards Hall.

The film tells the story of Freedom Park in Lagos. Formerly Old Broad Street Prison, a symbol of colonial oppression, it has evolved into a place of peace, to contemplate and interact.

THISDAYLIVE: Femi Odugbemi takes bigger strides

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FEMI-ODUGBEMI-and-His-Team

Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Vanessa Obioha enter the world of an ace film maker who continues to sturn with hit productions that features compelling story line

There is very little about the documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, director, photographer, arts and culture enthusiast, Femi Odugbemi that is not in the public space. And that is because he does not fish in unfamiliar waters. He is committed to one thing only: Film! Everything else is ancillary.

 

It is easy to focus on Odugbemi’s work; to take each one as they come. However, that effort demands serious concentration to play catch-up, for as unassuming as he appears, Odugbemi is restless. His agile spirit is forever thinking up new schemes and projects. Whatever you knew of him yesterday may not be relevant today. The only thing you may be sure of is that his venture will always be tied to the magic of initiating a discourse through the sight and sound medium of television or film.

For instance, to launch his intriguing hit TV series, Battleground, he went through the motion of introducing a new company, Zuri 24 Media. His success with production of successful drama on television attained an enviable feat with Tinsel. Following that mark of distinction, not many imagined he could reach into the recesses of his creative mind to come up with another winning television drama. With Battleground, however, Odugbemi does not only seek to surpass himself, the most enduring impression that is being conveyed is how the team has been able to deliver a world class production daily, depending entirely on resources and talent obtained in Nigeria.
Battleground is what may be called the Nigerian dream!

It’s making is like a fairytale. Every week day, a bus filled with the crew and cast takes off from Maryland Bus-stop in Lagos mainland at 5am heading for the Lekki Phase 1 location. The personnel find their way to the location. But lateness is not tolerated, for whatever reason. Breakfast is served at 7am. Shooting begins at 8am and goes on till late afternoon. There is lunch break. Everything moves like clockwork. There are no distractions. All possible hiccups have been anticipated and taken care of (to a large extent). The Battleground set must be one of the few places where things work seamlessly in Nigeria. The unlikely story of Battleground begins from acquisition of the property in Lekki Phase 1. “It was an abandoned house. The former occupants did not take good care of it. But it was what we were looking for. We needed to do a lot of work to transform it to what you see now.”

This is where the amazing craftsmanship of his team was deployed. As the artisans and professionals went to work, an adorable masterpiece, fitting the description was invented in every space; whether it was the bedroom, living room, study or the courtyard. Even he could not believe the extent of renovation that was carried out in such a short time.

The ingenuity of the professionals on the Battleground set is futher showcased with the creation of an ‘artificial’ island and a golf course.

More astounding is the fact that every costume used on the set of Battleground is made right there!
The impeccable lifestyle in Battleground is too good to be true, therefore, some viewers forget that it is make-believe and strongly desire to live in the Battleground.

But this is not an entirely new phenomenon. It is not uncommon to see fans go extra mile or do the weirdest things to have an encounter with their favourite celebrity. Take a look at the US rapper Eminem whose number one fan Stan ended up killing himself simply because Eminem didn’t reply his mails on time. Back home, we’ve seen fans present portraits of their famous artistes to them on different occasions or move past security guards to hug their idols. None of these however can match the unwavering loyalty of Africa Magic’s Battleground fans. The intriguing TV series produced by Femi Odugbemi has acquired a larger-than-life status since its debut last May.

These fans come from diverse backgrounds to converege on social media platforms. On Twitter and Facebook, they share their views on the gripping tale, post updates as well as create funny moments with memes.

However, they proved their unflappable devotion to the series when they organised a party to celebrate the 100th episode of Battleground recently. DStv and Africa Magic had earlier scheduled a live screening of the episode at the Battleground towering mansion where most of the scenes are shot. Some selected celebrities, journalists and fans were invited to share in the historic moment with the cast and crew.

Feeling left out of the fun, the uninvited fans had their own party in Lagos with the former Governor of Cross River State Donald Duke in attendance. That’s what you call real fandom. They partied, took selfies and generally had a good time networking. All were in agreement that they definitely had a good reason to celebrate the soapie which compelling storyline had kept them glued to their TVs.

Arguably, Battleground redefined the TV culture in more ways than one. The compelling story line and clinical precision given to the production are good testament to the dexterity of the man at the helms of the production, Femi Odugbemi. The son of a cocoa farmer from Ondo State, Odugbemi is famous for excellent productions like Gidi Blues, Oriki documentary, and another Africa Magic production, Tinsel. Paying extra attention to his craft and raising the standards of his vocation have set him apart from his contemporaries.

This demand for professionalism is meticulously displayed at conspicous vantage positions round the location. They are mainly instructions (or reminders) to the cast and crew, imploring them to be businesslike.

Odugbemi says it’s intentional. “We shoot everyday. An episode a day for next week. The call-time is 6am. We’ve made adequate provisions for them to make it easier for them. There is a caterer who brings variety of delicacies for them so that they can have breakfast before shooting. They don’t have to worry about clothes because we make the costumes here. There is an in-house costumier who makes all the attires. We also have the salon where they all get prepped up. So everything is here.”

“Most of them live nearby and drive their own cars,” he continues, “So they easily get here on time but for those who don’t, we have a bus at Maryland that picks them up. We did all these because we don’t want to encourage excuses that may tamper with production. Things should be done properly and professionally.”

Indeed, this was clearly seen at the location in Lekki. Cameramen and members of the cast were already on ground to shoot a scene, while the costumier spun the wheel tirelessly upstairs, making cuts and patterns on fabrics. The make-up artist was not idle either as she applied finishing touches to the face of one of the actors to get the desired look for her character. In another section of the big compound there were scriptwriters who barely looked up from a huge sheaf of papers. Everyone carried on their duties in a very dedicated manner.

Working with such reliable individuals makes his work easier. The Creative Director Mike-Steve Adeleye who oversees the various creative departments and ensures that the script is coherently executed from pre-production to post-production. There is also the Series Producer Mayowa Oluyeba, a towering figure described by Odugbemi as the one who keeps everyone on their feet. His duties include budget monitoring, and ensuring the creative department deliverables meet their timelines.
So far, consistency is the major challenge they have faced. Adeleye put it this way.

“It’s easier to do something that stands out in short films because you are only tested for a short period, but features are longer so you need to be more consistent in your craft. That demand is even longer on a TV show because you’ve got all sorts of stuff to deal with. You got actors, characters with acts that are constantly evolving, not just from Point A to B, but you got this graph that kind of scintillates. It goes up and down. It just can’t be random because you have audiences following these characters and it is important that you don’t get to a point where people say ‘this character wouldn’t do this’. It has to get this systematic feel so that when you get there, your audience has journeyed with that character so when the character evolves and changes, it makes sense, it’s not just a sudden jump. Tracking that on a series, with the performances, their costumes, looks, how they interpret their roles is not random, it’s very specific challenge.”

Oluyeba concurred by adding, “You can’t just change anything. Even if you are shooting a wedding scene that is supposed to take one day and you shot it for three days, when you are coming back to continue on the third day, you must build the area to pick up from what you shot the previous day; everything must tally-up to the weather condition.”

Interestingly, this particular location known as the Bhadmus mansion is an intriguing part of the drama. It is a sprawling edifice in the heart of Lekki and the 18th location Odugbemi stumbled on.

“It was an abandoned building. I like to tell the story because somewhere in between I think that God is really great. We looked at about 17 other houses but we never found one that was good enough. Sometimes we found one but it was either the house was not affordable or suitable.”

Apparently, a few changes were necessary so he called his close friend and famous architect Theo Lawson to make a few adjustments to the landscape. A golf lawn, a royal pavilion, artificial trees, even a small boat house close to the lagoon was created at the backyard.

Inside, rooms were magically transformed. Chandeliers, beds, upholstery, libraries all locally made created the right setting and mood for each scene. The logo of the drama, an emboldened letter B facing each other is crested on one of the walls outside. Odugbemi says the logo shows the flip side of the human nature. His explanation is simple. No one is perfect.

Undeniably, the compelling storyline of Battleground has earned it its growing fame. It tells the story of the Bhadmus family and its patriarch Chief Kolade Bhadmus (Gbenga Titiloye), a man whose desire for power, fame and wealth leads to dire consequences to his family and business

“This is a very uncomplicated story,” says Odugbemi. “I like it because we have stories that people know but don’t talk about. A lot of stories in Battleground are reality based. There is an underground of stories in our culture. The idea that a chief or rich man has a remote family somewhere, maybe strange to foreigners but not to us. We’ve seen it at many burial ceremonies. That he would go as far as to fake a heart attack in order not to pay his debt to the General is part of the folklore of our communities. There are lots of rich people in Nigeria whose wealth cannot be explained. Even if you can explain it, you cannot do what he did to acquire it. Then effectively there are reflections in our story of a society that actually needs to examine itself, its values and views of money. You know we say in Nigeria that money is not everything, younger people these days will tell you let me have it first.
All those phrases like ‘get rich or die trying’ or the popular Yoruba saying that ‘there is a certain dirt at the bottom of the barrel of wealth’. You will find at the end of the day that not all that glitters is gold are undertones in our story. And the impact of it on family and society itself may be the unspoken lessons that our audience are taking from Battleground.”

Odugbemi, however, attributes the success of the drama to his ensemble. There are about 70 crew members and 36 cast members.

“I like the fact that we are very breezy, fast-paced, we ride on the wings of some extremely talented persons. In all honesty, if there is something to boast about, I think it is the fact that we have gathered a group of incredibly talented people. We are lucky to work with people who are big but they take a small role and pay attention to it. For instance, Joke Silva is playing Mama Egba. It’s actually a small part but you can’t tell from the enthusiasm she brings to it. Bikiya Graham Douglas has given one of the most powerful performances I have ever seen and you see her bring pure magic to her character, Hadiza. People knew Shaffy Bello from Tinsel. She was the girl in Seyi Sodimu’s ‘Love Me Jeje’ but she is such a magical performer. Gbenga Titiloye has worked in quite a few films and was in Ghana and had come home to take over the role of Chief Kolade in a way that I can’t imagine. Francis Onwochei is a big boy taking the big part of Chief Ige, the politician.

“Then there is the young crew; a lot of fantastic young people. We have made a departure from the usual M-net show will have foreign crew. When I did Tinsel, we had that because we were starting for the first time. We paid our price by learning from South African shows. What Tinsel did was to create a clique of very young people in Nigeria whose core expertise is television production; and not Nollywood. Take for instance, Chike from The Voice Nigeria Season One, he is a big discovery for us. I find him to be a more fantastic actor than a singer while Nonso Bassey from that same competition brings this raw sex appeal that you can’t ignore. They come here everyday and they kill it (as the younger people say).”

Over the years, Odugbemi has adopted the unique style of merging two generations in his productions.
“I find it to be the only way we can pay back. I like that melding. The older ones are doing something I find quite fascinating. They are actually helping the younger ones to find their way. On the other hand, the younger ones look at the older people and learn.

 

Femi Odugbemi in Northwestern University

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IMG-20171020-WA0000

Nigeria in Self Conversation:
The Films of Femi Odugbemi
Presented by: The Program of African Studies, The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, The Nollywood Working Group, The Herskovits Library of African Studies Lagosian filmmaker Femi Odugbemi will be the Program of African Studies’ Director in Residence from October 23-28, 2017. Join us for a week of talks, film screenings, and a related exhibit at the Herskovits Library of African Studies. All events with Odugbemi are free and open to the public. Wednesday, October 25, 12-1:15pm.

A talk by Femi Odugbemi: A Conversation about Film Making in Nigeria at the Program of African Studies 620 Library Place, Evanston at the Herskovits Library of African Studies 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston 5th Floor, East Tower (5E)
October 23–27, 10am -4pm.
The West African film exhibit
See our display of film posters from Ghana and Nigeria.
Gidi Blues: A Lagos Love Story (2016)
Thursday, October 26, 7-9 pm
Film Screening: Documentary Shorts 2005-2016
Makoko: Futures Afloat (2016, 29 min.)
Bariga Boy (2009, 25 min.)
Oui Voodoo (2005, 45 min.)
Q&A with Odugbemi to follow*
Friday, October 27, 5:30-7pm
Reception for Odugbemi, featuring Nigerian food catered by Simi’s Restaurant
Friday, October 27, 7-9pm
Film Screening: Gidi Blues: A Lagos Love Story (2016, 103 min.)
Q&A with Odugbemi to follow*
At the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston
Parking is FREE after 4pm at the Segal Visitor’s Center Garage, 1847 Campus Drive.
*Guest Moderators: Jonathan Haynes, Long Island University & Paul Ugor, Illinois State University

The power of visual images

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“We are passionate about the power of visual images to persuade, provoke and mediate human experiences and create positive change in business, commerce, community development, governance and culture. That motivation drives our quest for excellence and effectiveness in our work of over two decades as a Media content producer across the spectrum of brand/corporate communications, entertainment television and documentaries. We seek to create visually powerful content in traditional and digital spaces that are not only different but make a difference”

Why do we create?

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“I believe it is to invent a “space” for relating with the world…to question the meaning and interpretation of reality. Creativity exposes the fragility of our relationship with reality. For to be a part of what are seeing is responsibility.
We are responsible for the reality we are a part of, because it is not about observing what is happening in front of you. It is also observing what is happening inside of you, because of what is happening in front of you. There is no experience without transformation. To touch is to be touched. Experience equals an emotional response. So to create is really about grasping our universality.”