In a remarkable journey through Nigeria’s contemporary film industry (Nollywood) over the past 30 years, as meticulously captured in his latest book, ‘30:Three Decades of the New Cinema’, revered broadcaster and journalist Steve Ayorinde orchestrates a grand gathering for the book launch at the Alliance Française recently.
In ‘30’, Ayorinde masterfully spotlights veterans and rising stars through an unprecedented blend of first-hand accounts, expounding on their contributions to nation-building. Spanning 182 pages, some of the prominent figures featured in the annals include Pete Edochie, Olu Jacobs, and Tunde Kelani.
The launch paraded a distinguished roster of Nollywood icons and influential government figures in attendance, which include but were not limited to Alara of Ilara Kingdom, Epe Division, Oba Olufolarin Ogunsanwo; past Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode; DG, Nigerian Copyrights Commission, Dr John Asein; General Manager, National Theatre, Lagos; Actors Jide Kosoko, Joke Silva, Sola Sobowale, and filmmakers, Femi Odugbemi, Bolanle Austen-Peters and Kunle Afolayan among others.
Chaired by the former governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, he hammered the pivotal role Ayorinde’s undertakings will play towards inspiring a culture of data preservation through storytelling.
“When Steve asked me to chair this book launch, I was delighted because I know that enough has not been written. There are a lot of anecdotes about Nollywood, about the exploits that our hugely talented people have made, and also the contribution that it has made to our GDP, but I still think not enough has been done to recognise and keep us better informed about what the Nigerian cinema industry has done,” Fayemi noted.
Highlighting 60 actors split equally by gender, Ayorinde, tells a rich story of the movie industry landscape, about how it has evolved throughout the year with technological advances while amplifying its role in absorbing creatives to service the second-largest film market in the world.
To many, this step taken by Ayorinde is laudable, with some hinting it may mark the dawn of a cultural renaissance, more succinctly put by veteran actor Taiwo Ajai-Lycett:
“This is the beginning. It is important that we started this so that we can have an import of what this industry means to this economy. The government so far has not shown any reason for us to believe that they understand its importance to the economy and the culture. This is an avenue where we can promote our culture, and tell our stories. This is a medium where we can stamp our cultural identity.”
Representing the MD, Nigerian Film Corporation, Dr Chidia Maduekwa, Brian Etuk inferred that ‘30’ will help shape prospects for the local film industry.
“Let us, in envisioning the next 30 years of Nollywood, appreciate the present state of our industry, that not only seems to be saddled with the role of creating job opportunities, in addition to serving as a tool for domestic unity, international cultural diplomacy, and people to people relations.
“What becomes of the next 30 years of the industry can only be determined by turning all our challenges into opportunities. We should not lose sight and understanding and role of high tech and what defines the art of filmmaking currently.”
A special note titled ‘Encore’, penned by the late Peace Anyiam-Osigwe of the Africa Movie Academy Awards as part of ‘30’ where she gave insight into moving the industry to compete globally, was delivered by Tetsekela Anyiam-Osigwe.