'Nigeria: Shooting it Like a Woman' — Trials & triumphs of women directors in male-dominated Nollywood

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October 26th 2017

We previously shared an interview with Agatha Ukata, a professor at the American University of Nigeria, who has written significantly on the topic of gender and Nollywood (Nigeria's film industry), and who completed her PhD thesis titled The Images(s) of Women in Nigerian (Nollywood) Videos. Ukata’s dissertation examines female representation in Nigerian cinema. —

Now, just to be clear, when she talks about Nollywood "videos," she’s talking about the films themselves, not music videos.

A new documentary film will address the matters Ukata is studying, although looking at the problem from behind the camera specifically, chronicling the journeys of women directors in Nigeria.

From director Tope Oshin, the documentary, titled Amaka's Kin - The Women Of Nollywood seeks to examine the careers of the very few women directors working in the very male-dominated Nigerian film industry - their struggles and their triumph, and the hurdles they had to jump to actually become directors of film. The film also celebrates the successful career of the most prominent Nigerian woman director of film, the late Amaka Igwe (hence the title of the film), who was pivotal to the growth and development of Nollywood and indeed an inspiration to "The Women of Nollywood."

The film features the contributions of women Nollywood directors like Mildred Okwo, Omoni Oboli, Stephanie Linus, Michelle Bello, Pat Oghre, Imhobio Adeola, Osunkojo Jadesola, Osiberu Ema, Edosio Lowladee, Dolapo Adeleke, Belinda Yanga, Agedah Blessing, Effiom Egbe, and the director of the documentary, Tope Oshin, who is also its producer via her Tope Oshin Productions in partnership with Sunbow Productions Ltd.

This is a wonderful and timely idea for a documentary exposé; very necessary, and I'm looking forward to checking it out whenever it's available Stateside. No ETA at this time, but you can follow the film's progress via its Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/AmakasKin.

Ahead of that, in a new BBC broadcast documentary that premiered on October 25, award-winning Nigerian director Tope Oshin, who is featured in Amaka's Kin - The Women Of Nollywood, celebrates a new generation of Nigerian women filmmakers who are currently reinventing Nollywood, the largest and most prolific film industry in continental Africa. She explores their distinctive approach to telling stories which aim to better represent women’s lives and aspirations in Nigeria today.

Tope pays tribute to the popular and inspirational filmmaker Amaka Igwe, who died in 2014, and meets some of the key women now shaking up gender stereotypes and winning awards and audiences. These include Mildred Okwo, director of the political satire The Meeting; Michelle Bello, director of the hit romcom Flower Girl; Kemi Adetiba, who directed last year’s box office winner The Wedding Party; and Remi Vaughan Richards, whose drama Outspoken cast a searing spotlight on the issue of child brides.

The directors reflect on how women are succeeding in a male-dominated industry, despite the failure of the Nigerian parliament last year to pass the Gender Equality Bill which would give legal support for equal pay and equal rights for women in Nigeria.

The informative broadcast documentary Nigeria: Shooting it Like a Woman premiered on October 25, as part of the BBC 100 Women season 2017.

Nadia Denton is Associate Producer; Mukti Jain Campion is producer.

Listen to the full documentary below:

by Tambay Obenson on October 26th 2017
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