THAT Nollywood has started reinventing itself is no longer news. With the industry's new romance with the cinema, perhaps a foretaste of better days seems imminent. Producers and directors that had otherwise shunned the cinema are gradually finding their way back to it, forced as it were, by circumstance of poor movie sales and piracy.
Last week, one of the industry's longstanding directors, Lancelot Imasuen, took his new offering, Home in Exile to the Genesis Deluxe Cinema at the Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki, Lagos, for its premiere, preparatory to the movie's tour of cinemas nationwide.
Home in Exile's outing last Thursday, was one such premieres that is beginning to reposition Nollywood.
Already, the movie is being shown daily in three cinemas in Lagos: Genesis at the Palms; Ozone and Silverbird Galleria.
Imasuen's movie premiere got a boost as Edo State Commissioner for Arts and Culture, Hon. Abdul Oroh found time to grace the event. The newly re-assigned commissioner expressed his support for the filmmaker fondly called the Gov'nor'. He asked that the film be taken to Edo State as well, announcing the government's readiness to be part of such efforts in boosting the nation's cultural heritage.
Hon. Oroh noted that Edo State was poised to regain the cultural capital position in the country as measures were being put in place to make that ambition realizable. He praised Nollywood and the director of Home in Exile for their cultural input to the nation's development and canvassed unstinted support from all quarters. Hon. Oroh also said that Edo State would soon begin to play a prominent role in cultural production; a position the state had seemingly lost to years of being without vision through a misdirected leadership. Now, however, all that would be past, the commissioner promised.
Before the premiere started, Imasuen also harped on the primacy of Nollywood in projecting the nation's culture to new heights, especially with the rediscovery of the cinema as viable alternative. He said his movie, Home in Exile, was made as a patriotic response to the challenges of development that were constantly being scuttled by forces from within the country through corruption.
The movie, he said, offered timeless lenses through which Nigeria's development challenges could dispassionately be viewed and addressed.
Imasuen, however, use the opportunity to call on corporate Nigeria to rally round Nollywood to begin, afresh, to do business with the industry, as a way of boosting it. Nollywood, he noted, is the nation's only wholly homegrown industry in dire need of investment to make it grow. He asked for time and patience, while efforts are being made to address some of the ills plaguing the industry.
He specifically called on companies to brand movies and premiere venues with their products as best ways of exposing such products for maximum mileage.
Home in Exile's focal point rests on repeated calls for Nigerians in the Diaspora to return home and be involved in the nation's development process. But when Dave (Desmond Elliot), Greg (Francis Duru) and Julie (Beverly Naya) left their high paying medical practice abroad to return home to build a hospital in Dave's hometown, they meet insurmountable obstacles that threaten their faith in their fatherland.
Even as a prince in his town, Dave is not spared the usual blackmail of having to corruptly settle various characters, if his dream to develop his town is to be realised. This pitches him against his father, who through Julie's alien ways, commits an abomination that can only be appeased by marrying Dave's father, the king, even as she is Dave's fiancée.
How do the duo of Dave and Greg overcome these official blackmail and bring the help the community needs in the area of healthcare and sundry development? What compromise releases Julie, an outsider, from the crime she has committed to escape being married to her fiance's father? What development implication does the movie explore in bringing foreign investment to Nigeria?
Home in Exile, according to Imasuen, is his attempt to bring critical perspective to bear on his art as a filmmaker in sensitising Nigerians on salient issues that inhibit development and how to avoid them. Imasuen also explores the positive roles youths can play, apart from misguided exuberance, to force leaders to do the right thing as constitutionally required.
The red carpet' reception paraded a lot of Nollywood stars that came to offer support for one of their own. Director, Dickson Iroegbu; Segun Arinze; Benita Nzeribe; TV star, Ruth Benemesia-Opia; producer, Emem Isong; Francis Onwochei; Sammie Okposo; Mellanby and Madu Chikwendu were among many others at the well-attended premiere.
Home in Exile will be exhibited at the nearest cinema, among the few still operating in the country.