Feb 3 2016
Around 2006 and 2007, Nigerian filmmaker Frank Rajah Arase signed a deal with a Ghanaian production company, Venus Films, which involved helping to introduce Ghanaian actors into mainstream Nollywood. This collaboration eventually led to the popularity of such Ghanaian actors as Van Vicker, Jackie Appiah, Majid Michel, Yvonne Nelson, John Dumelo, Nadia Buari and Yvonne Okoro among others in Nigeria.
Over the years, due to the high cost of film production in Nigeria, Nigerian filmmakers have been forced to make films outside the country, resulting in the exodus of filmmakers in Hollywood to places like Los Angeles, Toronto and Albuquerque, a process known as “runaway production”. Several other producers as a result also started shooting in cities like Accra, Ghana.
In all fairness, it can be said that the collaboration between Nigerian and Nigerian filmmakers, producers and actors one hand and their Ghanaian counterparts has been of tremendous advantage to the Ghanaians. It was therefore surprising that an upcoming Ghanaian movie maker like Leila Djansi, no doubt one of the beneficiaries of this relationship could afford to describe Nollywood in bad light, comparing it to Adolf Hitler as she did recently.
The rudeness of the Ghanaian has elicited reactions from Nigerians from all walks of life, prominent among them, Nollywood star, Stella Damasus. In a video released a couple of days ago, the actress expressed utter shock at the comment of the Ghanaian film producer and cautioned her to be mindful of her utterances. She took her through the evolution of Nollywood, capturing the challenges which the actors and producers had to confront before taking the industry to where it is at present.
In the opening of the video, a visibly upset Damasus said: ‘I want to share something with you not just because it is bugging me but it is eating me up right now. Some people say things around me, about me, what I’m doing, my country and movie industry and I let it go or let it slide. There are lots of things I don’t respond to but this time I will.’
She then showed a clip of the television interview in which Djansi referred to Nollywood as carrying a negative connotation which she said could affect the entire movie industry. Describing Djansi’s statement as the most derogatory someone could make against Nollywood, she called on the Ghanaian to desist from insulting the people who have contributed in no small measure to popularizing her movies. Damascus explained that without Nollywood, there wouldn’t have been even Ghollywood or any other movie industry in Africa because the Nigerian film industry gave rise to the various stars all over Africa now.
Damasus called the attention of Djansi to the fact that she featured Nollywood’s own Omotola Jalade and Yemi Black in two of her movies, wondering if by referring to Nollywood as Hitler, she had not insulted the Nigerians who starred in her movies. She counselled the Ghanaian film maker to be guided by wisdom in the things she says about Nollywood and its stars.
Meanwhile, some Nollywood fans have taken to the social media to demand the shunning of Djansi’s movies for what they considered unguarded utterance of the filmmaker about Nollywood and its stars