Nollywood Film Club is a diverse haven for criticism, ideas, and global discourse of Nigerian films.
At the heart of the club is a community dedicated to deconstructing the latest high-profile Nigerian streaming releases, sparking discussions on a chosen topic of the week, and occasionally organizing lively debate-like competitions known as #NollyFight. This initiative not only creates a space for criticism but also fosters an exchange of ideas and knowledge, becoming an important institution for a growing industry that is gaining the attention of global cinephiles.
Hosted by Iroko Critic on Twitter (now known as X), the weekly Twitter Space conversation unfolds every Sunday at 6 pm West African time, offering a unique platform that transcends backgrounds and film knowledge.
The significance of Nollywood Film Club lies in its ability to embrace diversity. Participants range from casual film watchers, dedicated Nollyphiles, and filmmakers to professional critics, forming a rich mix of opinions that enrich the discourse around Nollywood films.
The community’s open and honest dialogue about Nollywood films is frequently deemed harsh. However, they offer a mixed exploration of the industry’s nuances and contribute significantly to the growth and appreciation of Nigerian cinema by triggering sociological and cultural analysis of the films that go beyond the merits of the film’s story.
Every month, a recap of key takeaways from the previous month will be published on What Kept Me Up, as a way to further document the thoughts and opinions of the many Nollywood lovers out there.
In November, the following conversations took place: The Origin: Madam Koi-Koi, a Netflix series; an interview with Michael Ndiomu, the producer of The Origin Madam Koi-Koi; and Ololade, a Yoruba-language Netflix series that closed the month.
1. Jude Chukwuka who plays Baba Fawole in The Origin: Madam Koi-Koi has been in several Nollywood films as a supporting talent. A couple of participants agreed that he deserves more roles that will utilize his talents. Seeing him in Madam Koi-Koi was further proof of his competence.
2. The Origin: Madam Koi-Koi is a breath of fresh air idea-wise, although there are questionable aspects of the series (which were also discussed in November). The fact that we do not get many films like that was a point of praise for the series.
3. Most of the praise for Madam Koi-Koi ended at the bold path that the film towed. Sadly and frustratingly for many, the two-part series reminded us all once again that Nollywood films have a sexual assault problem. Using rape in their stories and in the case of Madam Koi-Koi, we are shown graphic rape scenes that linger, a length that doesn’t add much to the series that fails to be graphic with its depiction of deaths. Talk about consistency.
“If we could fade to black on Madam Koi-Koi’s kills, then we could fade to black on the rape,” mentioned a frustrated speaker. Another speaker even gets more prescriptive with an example: In the first rape that happens in chapter 1, the boys entering the room and the female character looking scared said enough. Coupled with her exiting the room in tears, this could have eliminated the need for an unnecessarily prolonged scene that depicted the assault. I will stop here because I shouldn’t go too long either. You get the point.
4. In Madam Koi-Koi, Nollywood’s dialogue problem is once again showcased. Nollywood was critiqued for relying on too much dialogue and exposition, which gives the actors very little to do. “It is a disservice when you give your actors so much to talk about and we hardly see them act,” said one of the speakers. “The actors end up having nothing to work with and struggle to shine.” It is almost like “Nollywood is uncomfortable with silence” and “we really feel like we have to fill every space with talk,” says another speaker. “Quite the exposition for a mystery.”
5. Several speakers also agreed that Madam Koi-Koi was more triggering in nature than horror. Also, Amanda is too passive in a story that was set up to be seen through her eyes. It ends up unfolding without her, which makes the series lose its spine.
6. Artistic license should still respect the basis of the mythology although several speakers agree that there are varying stories that people have come to know about the tales of Madam Koi-Koi in Nigerian boarding schools. An excited speaker shared his own perspective and analysis which revolves around Madam Koi-Koi being a representation of the anxiety of the modern Nigerian woman. So it was strange to hear growling like it was coming from a big hairy monster. Subtlety could have done the adaptation of the myth good although the speaker still admits that the director had creative freedom to do what he wanted. It would have been great to not see her haggard and the shoes should clink not stomp.
7. Just a note to filmmakers: when you have gone big with your idea and realise that you do not have the resources to execute it, you can always go back to tweak your scripts where necessary. The speaker believes that the script made Lashe and co so important but ends up not delivering when they could have been made less important in the first place. Learn to work within your constraints.
8. In an interview session with Michael Ndiomu, the producer of Madam Koi-Koi, we find out that he packs two background stories, one of which typically is tied to one filmmaker. We rarely find a filmmaker with both. The producer transitioned from another industry which is the notable banking sector. Also, his first contact with director Jay Franklyn at AFRIFF 2021 is reminiscent of some other filmmakers, notably Kayode Kasum and Dare Olaitan who met at NollywoodWeek Film Festival. Is there a new bromance or frequent collaboration brewing here?
Producer Ndiomu also revealed that he had attended film school at the New York Film Academy after his banking stint; written novels and short stories; and done a web series, a cooking show, and a reality TV show.
9. Madam Koi-Koi in numbers: As revealed by the producer, the film took 2 years of his life, about 1.2 million per day on just hotelling during shooting in Abeokuta, had a crew of 85 people with 12 people on the grip team and 15 people on the camera team (which aided the visuals). Shooting took place in 2022, the production budget was in a range of 200-300 million naira and post-production took 6 months.
10. Madam Koi-Koi was originally shot as a film. Netflix made the call to split into two parts which were released across two weeks during the Halloween season. Also, it was acquired as a licensed title. Now that the origin story is over, they hope to make more Madam Koi-Koi stories and explore the folktale character further.
11. Several speakers agreed that Ololade felt indigenous and like a story set within our own world compared to recent Nollywood releases that have felt more like foreign imitations. “They didn’t copy the tones of a foreign movie,” said a speaker. This made the refreshing series enjoyable, despite its many issues which were also raised during the conversation.
12. It was nostalgic to watch Ololade as it gave the vibes of an AfMag film. It was also pleasant to watch an indigenous language film that is not an epic. A speaker even quipped that it must have been written by the writers’ room of the usual AfMag 260 titles because of the size of unearned chaos that was attempted to be packed into 6 episodes.
13. The episodes of Ololade could have been shorter. They dragged in some unimportant places and then went too fast in some places that should have gotten more attention.
14. The hosts of Nollywood Film Club also want everyone to know that it is important to note that a couple of Nollywood Film Club members received promotional gift packs from TNC Africa, the production company behind Ololade.
Live Nollywood Film Club takes place every Sunday at 6pm (WAT) on Twitter.
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