The Battle Between Old and New Nollywood


You may have heard about the recent battle between the old Nollywood and the new Nollywood. It was more like a war of words actually but I’m sure you agree ‘battle’ sounds more dramatic. Whether you call it war, battle or debate, it’s nothing out of the norm. It must be in man’s nature for the old to contend with the new and vice versa. Although as in most things, trust the Nigerian factor to emerge as the protagonist of this age old struggle for supremacy/relevance.

What started this latest battle between the old and the new stemmed from film maker Charles Novia’s interview with Emma Ugolee on The Gist in which he reportedly dismissed some new Nollywood actors as Instagram stars, etc, etc. His companion on the day was fellow film maker Moses Inwang who had issues with the fact that some of these actors preferred to see themselves as ‘new’ Nollywood. I like many people only caught the ‘controversy’ that this interview generated rather than the original interview.

Mind you, this will not be the first time Charles Novia would be ruffling some feathers. Which is why I don’t need to watch The Gist to get the ‘gist’ of what Charles Novia supposedly said. Not too long ago during the MOPICON (Motion Picture Of Nigeria) draft bill debate, he referred to some Nollywood actors as upstarts or was it up tarts? The beauty of upstarts is that it also contains up stars.

Expectedly, reactions have mostly fallen along age lines: Young, perennially (and imagined) young people tended to side with the new while the old, those who crave respect (like oxygen) and like to ascribe age and veteran-ship to themselves tended to fall in line behind the so called old Nollywood. Who is really old Nollywood anyhow? Is it the film makers from 1992 (agreed birth year of Nollywood) or those from the 50s and 60s? Or even much earlier? But I digress.

It would be much easier to fall in one of the two lines drawn: old vs new. But I love the freedom that comes with being open minded too much to choose sides in this particular instance. Wait, maybe I am here to take sides. That would have to be the third side. I know I hadn’t told you there was a third side. Now you know. There’s a third side which includes those who aim to embrace the positives in the other sides. This position is not so new because it predates this new ‘battle’. I’d rather we did not knock anyone-sweep aside an entire generation away with one giant broom just because of age, tribe or their attitude. We’re now all witnesses to what the political broom of change has brought on Nigeria.

In any case, not that long ago, it was other ‘old’ people calling those who now consider themselves ‘old’ Nollywood neophytes and impostors. Those older film makers thought it insulting that the then ‘new’ film makers could consider themselves film makers. Their main grouse was with the fact that the newcomers who didn’t shoot their films on celluloid had the effrontery to call themselves film makers. Video makers, maybe. Even that they found too generous. There must be many definitions as to what constitutes a film. I subscribe to the definition of a ‘film being about moving pictures, telling a story.’

Those older people had issues with more than the platform stories were being told. They turned up their noses at even the stories, treatment of stories, etc. I suspect some of them had issues with the very existence of these new film makers. And in Nigeria, you can expect that some people are going to complain about the fact that the new people were not showing enough respect, were too full of themselves and so on.

I haven’t even mentioned those who found the very term Nollywood terribly offensive. An assault to their collective royal sensibilities. Those people, those who think lumping them into Nollywood somehow lowers or cheapens their craft may still exist How dare anyone try to name their industry after Hollywood? What was with aping someone else? Even though some now consider plagiarism par for the course and even flattering to the one plagiarised, those senior citizen film makers didn’t care to seek validation from being identified with Hollywood. Naija wood? Some people love to hate the term ‘naija’. Nigeriawood then? What’s with the fixation with woods? In any case, don’t some people have a problem with Nigeria because it was the brain wave of Lord Lugard’s girlfriend Florence Shaw? Why Nigeria? All this ‘history’ just goes to show that there’s no end to what people can disagree over.

Nonetheless, the one thing, we who find ourselves in this accidental nation called Nigeria can do is to help each other along. There are far too many things, too many real problems for us to expend so much energy on how disrespectful or untalented the new generation is. Or how outdated the old generation is for that matter.

I didn’t support those who said only shooting on celluloid qualified anyone to be called a film maker. I don’t support knocking the new-now. In any case, before you know it, the new becomes the old and another ‘new’ comes along. And don’t be fooled, each needs the other, one way or another.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I do respect Charles Novia as a film maker. I also respect his right to his opinion even if I think there are much more pressing issues to fight for/against in Nollywood.


Women of Steel on Telemundo

Sara Aguilar Acero (Blanca Soto) is the Woman of Steel (Senhora Acero). Her husband Vicente Acero (Damian Alcazar) is killed by the cartel on their wedding day along with her father. Vicente may have been a dirty cop and the cartel will stop at nothing until they recover the $3m Vicente stole from them. Vicente’s widow, Sara, is the obvious first choice in trying to get their money back.

So naturally, the cartel is after Sara. There’s also her sister Josefina’s husband, Felipe Murillo, mayor of the city. He is also after the almighty $3m. Did I mention that Sara’s sister Bertha also has it out for Sara because she believes Sara stole Vicente from her? Sisterly hatred oils many a Telemundo storyline.

But it doesn’t take long before Sara turns into a woman of steel reminiscent of Queen Of The South (La Reina del Sur). Teresa Mendoza starts out as a deliberately naive woman until fate pushes her into being a strong and tough woman who goes on to control a thriving cartel.
Sara is now on the run. But even in a new city, she is fast gathering enemies. Friendship and sisterhood also show up. Love is also not far away in the form of police commander Eliodoro (Andres Palacio).
It’s early days yet. We’ve just been through a mere nineteen episodes in what promises to be a bumper series-almost 200 episodes.
Check out Woman Of Steel, Telemundo dstv channel 118, weekdays 7.30 pm.


“She could be in potential danger.”
-Adriana (MaryJane Ugbaja), Hush, African Magic Showcase, dstv channel 151, Monday September 26, 8 pm-ish.
I doubt we can hold the scriptwriter responsible for this tautology. It would appear as if some actors like to ‘edit’ their lines by either subtracting or adding to the script. Maybe the original lines had the word ‘potential’ occurring somewhere much later in the dialogue. Or not. Someone could be in danger is the same thing as someone being in potential danger. Perhaps combining both sounds twice as dangerous and shows just how much danger the person could be in.
But “could be in potential danger” is wrong. It’s either you are in potential danger or you could be in danger.

“I am a survivor, I always stand on top of my game.”
-Funke Akin-Benson (Ayo Adesanya), Casino, African Magic Showcase, dstv channel 151, Monday September 26, 9 pm-ish.
Talk about standing grammar on its head. Or maybe she is just standing on top of grammar. In this case, even good ol’ logic may be standing on its hind legs perhaps in readiness to take off. Standing (staying) on top of your game could make you a survivor in the long run but you can also be a survivor by knowing when to lie low. Whereas ‘standing on top (of your game)’ and lying low are two different things, you can become a survivor in the long run staying on top of your game. Haven’t I already said that?
Well, you do get my drift, hopefully.