FACE ONU: Producing a Movie with Lesbianism as Theme Does not Mean I Support It

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SUPER SATURDAY STORY

In the silhouette created by the blue light in the posh hotel room, four feminine lissom lips locked together, with slender hands groping, caressing each other’s body. The scene was unnatural and the act considered unforgivable. But the two lovebirds appeared caught between a rock and hard place. Cut! The scene changed to a young man cuddling up with another man. One is the husband; the other is the ‘wife’. They seemed so happy but the enraged world was destined to burn them alive. As in real life and movies, the subject of homosexuality in Nigeria is usually discussed in hushed voice. But in a daring move and belief, an entrepreneur and movie producer, Face Onu, explores the theme of lesbianism – homosexuality – in her latest flick, Busted. In this interview with Azuka Ogujiuba, Onu explains why she chose to explore the controversial theme of homosexuality in her new film

It Was Challenging but My New Movie was Worth the Stress
Some Artistes ShieLd Away Due to the Central Theme of My Movie

Is your new movie, ‘Busted’, your first movie in the Nigerian movie industry?

No. We have an Igbo movie already airing on DSTV tilted, ‘Ndi Igbo’

Why the title ‘Busted’ and what inspired you to make the movie?

The movie speaks for itself when it comes to title. It was originally titled ‘Busted: a Lone Road’ because the lead character trod on a lonely path. Unfortunately, the censor board requested we keep the title as simply ‘Busted’. Speaking of inspiration, I am someone who begs to differ. I don’t do what everyone else is doing out there. I love to do what’s really never been done before.

How did you pick the lead character, a lesbian, in the movie?

We had several auditions for that role. I wanted someone that could portray the central message. We even approached some up-comers in the industry that had 60 per cent of what I was looking for but they shied away from playing the role. I kept hunting until my sister called my attention to one Chika (who eventually became the lead character) but I wasn’t so interested to follow up because I heard she wasn’t interested and had never acted before. So, one day I bumped into the same girl, unaware it was the same girl my sister had told me about. Then I went all out to convince her to join the crew and also made her a good offer. The rest is history.

Were you discouraged at any point while producing the movie by Nigerian outlook on the issue of homosexuality?

Yes; because I know many Nigerians will frown at it being that homosexuality is illegal and totally unacceptable publicly. And again couple of directors wasn’t so keen on taking up the job. We also visited couple of distributors including DSTV and their response was not encouraging at all. It was actually the scriptwriter (Blessing Effiom Egbe) that encouraged me to shoot the movie and this was after shelving the script for almost a year. Then secondly, I would say no because inasmuch as it is termed ‘illegal’, the truth remains that a lot of our youths are so much involved in the act so I felt producing a movie with same-sex theme will open the eyes of many parents to arrest the situation on time if faced with it and to help with rehabilitation of those involved than judge or condemn them.

What was your biggest challenge in the course of producing the movie?

My main challenge was censor’s board approval and then getting the right crew to work with being my first major project. Then we had financial issues but somehow God in his mercy made a way as always.

What is the central message of the movie?

Diversity in sex perceptions; it’s a clear picture of what is happening in the society. Parents should not be too strict by scaring their children while telling them about sex. They should also let them know that same-sex relationship isn’t the will of God.

Don’t you think this movie will encourage the lesbian and gay community in Nigeria to grow, knowing full well that Nigeria is a society where such practices are forbidden?

On the contrary, I believe the movie will help curb their activities and also in changing them positively without necessary hurting them. And I didn’t know we have lesbian and gay community here in Nigeria!

What is your personal view on homosexuality in general?

Inasmuch as the issue is highly sensitive and I know this matter is almost as old as the world; my personal view doesn’t really count. But I know that it is not the will of God for us and God condemns the act.

What inspired you to produce a movie with such a delicate theme?

To sound a reminder to the people involved and to parents, so we do not completely lose our children to this act – because they are tomorrow’s leaders. This is because it has started ravaging the youths and theirs mentors in this country. No need to sweep it under the carpet.

How do you juggle being a movie producer and a mother?

It hasn’t been easy trying to balance it, but I give in my best and God has been my strength.

Apart from producing movies what do you do?

As a strong entrepreneur, I have my hands on several other things and still striving to grow every aspect of any business I venture into. I have been a versatile and seasoned business woman for a couple of years now; only that the country has a funny way of crippling small and large businesses with no apology.

How do you relax and let out steam?

Chatting with my friends and ‘frenemies’ and also travelling and watching my favourite programmes on television.