NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 137

Tunde Kelani
Nollywood movies have been dismissed by international film critics as being below standard in comparison to movies made in Hollywood , Bollywood or other older film cultures . And this has adversely affected the rise of indigenous directors . But Tunde Kelani , in a bid to turn the tide , started off film making in 1993 , being political-minded , albeit shooting on cheaper video technology and a lower budget . Tunde Kelani is a unique and highly creative filmmaker whose works deserve a close reading and a repositioning alongside African filmmakers . His films are rooted in the cultural arts and entertainment of the Yoruba influenced by the Yoruba Alaarinjo theatre . Onabajo and Binutu cite five Yoruba cultural elements that are always evident in many of Kelani ’ s films . These are :
• The supreme being ( Olodumare ): the divinities , the spirits , the ancestors and medicine and magic men .
• The other-worldly domain ( orun ) — which co-exist with :
• The phenomenal world ( aiye ) of people , animals , plants and things and communication with ;
• The spirit realm-what ifa is all about and ;
• The notion that culture is used as a vehicle for conveying the existence of ancestors and their activities in the affairs of men ( as cited in Laramee , 2013 , p . 98 ).
In the face of globalization , Kelani is aware that without proper documentation , the Yoruba culture faces extinction . As a result , he is geared towards promoting and preserving everything Yoruba , by using the medium of film as a tool to reflect upon Yoruba past , wisdom , tradition and contemporary culture ( Laramee , 2013 , p . 98 ). His films are mostly made in Yoruba , but distribution stretches beyond Yoruba audiences , as a result of his films ’ uniqueness and wide acceptability . Film scholars as far back as 2000 agree that Kelani is an auteur . Haynes and Okome , and even Pierre Barrot , who disagrees with Nollywood films for lack of content , acknowledge Kelani ’ s films as a “ truly cinematographic production ” ( Barrot , cited in Laramee , 2013 , p . 98 ). Even Kelani himself attests to his authorial voice , when he avers that “ I am responsible for every frame ” during the production process ; and to maintain creative control , Kelani admits how he has “ never taken any money from any marketer ,” a unique style that propels him to the head of Nigerian filmmaking , yet has also prevented a windfall of profits ( as cited in Laramee , 2013 , p . 98 ). According to Adesokan , Kelani ’ s films regularly revolve around the following cinematic characteristics :
A complex address to Nigerian political society from the standpoint of Yoruba expressive culture ; a predilection for allegorical and popular forms ; subtle or ( often ) overt didacticism ;
the use of actors from both the English language and Yoruba subgenres ; the skillful use of light and exteriors in cinematography ; and an astute sense of a transnational context ( as cited in Laramee , 2013 , p . 104 ).
Kunle Afolayan
The fact that Afolayan makes big budget movies in Nigeria does not alone qualify him for the authorial mantle , but his ability to make these films truly his : his consistent attention to quality narratives , visual aesthetics ; his being true to time , and ability to attract a large audience to himself over a short period of time , place him higher above his contemporaries . When a film critic at the San Francisco Chronicle , Mike LaSalle , identified six qualities that make a movie great , he spoke somewhat prophetically of movies of new Nollywood , especially the movies of Kunle Afolayan . To LaSalle , a great movie should include at least three of these :
• Topical when new ;
• Embody timeless human values ;
• Contain a great performance ;
• Have an overarching consciousness or personality that brings the movie into balance ;
• Contain at least one memorable scene ;
• End on a note of complexity , not just ambiguity ( LaSalle , 2014 ).