Stakeholders in the Nigerian movie industry have called for more involvement of the government to achieve a regulated industry.
They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos, following the backlash received by a recently released Nigerian movie, “Gang of Lagos”, for allegedly having less regard for culture.
The movie which premiered on an online platform had some sector of the audience asking the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to do the needful, which the Board immediately responded that it lacked the legal backing to do so.
The President, Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Mr Emeka Rollas, however said the government needed to do more in promotion and regulation to change the status quo.
“Taking a cue from the NFVCB, the Nigerian film industry is evolving and we are all basking in the euphoria of the success. The truth is that the government needs to do more in promotion and regulation.
“If the situation remains like this, anything can happen. The structure in Nigeria is really broken and it’s s just all man for himself, God for us all.
“What is happening in the movie industry is everywhere. There are so many other industries in Nigeria that do not regard culture because the owners of the culture themselves are not doing enough to protect it.
“The movie industry has stayed long enough that the government needs to sit down and ask the stakeholders what they want and how to make the industry better,” he said.
The AGN President said the Nigerian movie industry is so porous that people come from different parts of the world to shoot movies with no one stopping them.
“The Nigerian movie industry is the only industry where a foreign artiste can be acting without being questioned if he or she has a permit.
“It’s so bad that some filmmakers keep encouraging them and when you question this at Actors Guild conference, the people who employed them will stand against you.
“We keep playing lip service to everything. Nollywood is the only industry with no entry or exit point. A film producer can wake up, write a movie, go to the village and pack everyone in a movie then start calling them actors.
“You make code of conduct but no one is following it. You know because YouTube and other online platforms are paying well, everybody is now rushing to make content which often falls below standard,” he said.
Rollas added that the government really needed to get involved in regulating contents as most people in the industry do things their way without following rules.
The President, Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Mr Victor Okhai, while commending government’s support for filmmakers, added that it could do more by funding movies that would promote the nation’s culture.
According to Okhai, NFVCB cannot regulate movies or contents released online but only has power over free to air, as anyone can have access to that but not in pay segment.
“The movie which a segment of the audience frowned at regarding the culture aspect has been done and the filmmakers also issued a disclaimer. So, there is no need to cry wolf,” he said.
Okhai, however, advised movie makers to be conscious of their environment and more sensitive while telling African stories.
“The fact that NFVCB has no power to censor online movies, does not give license to filmmakers to produce online contents without guidance.
“While the movie on its own is a beautiful work of art, it is also important to take note of our environment.
“Toying with traditional symbols could be a very sensitive thing and obviously there is so much hullabaloo.
“I will advocate that we are sensitive to our environment, the people and the culture, while telling our stories,” he said.
Also speaking , Mr Wale Ojo-Lanre, a tourism promoter, noted that if the NFVCB must be truly empowered to regulate online contents, awareness must first be created.
Ojo-Lanre, a former Senior Special Assistant on Tourism Development to former Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, said just arrogating the power of sanction and punishment to the NFVCB would not be enough.
”This will not help to mitigate, prevent, defend, protect and preserve cultural sensibility from being abused, misinterpreted and raped vicariously by the people.
“I agree that it will go a short way at protecting and safeguarding reckless abuse, as depicted in the said movie, but it will not go a long desirable way.
“For providing and arming an institution to protect a value without a critical awareness, creation and value enhancement platforms for the objects, will only be cosmetic and decorative.
“The rules will be observed just to fulfill the immediate righteousness. The fact is that Nigeria as a country, is culturally defective and we are culturally bankrupt,” he said.
Ojo-Lanre, therefore, called for a cultural rebirth and creation of a tourism and culture ministry, for what he described as ‘a surgical re-engineering of our cultural values’.
“I don’t blame those who perpetrated the cultural mess in that film. First, we collectively through deliberate policy maladministration or conceptualisation, killed History as a subject in our educational procedure.
“It was from History as a subject that I learnt of Igbo Ukwu Culture, the Nok Culture, the Bini Culture, the Hausa/Fulani culture and Yoruba Culture.
“I was able to appreciate cultural diversity and need to respect the values, culture and tradition of others.
“We have no cultural platforms. So, Eyo to some, is not a cultural symbol and representation of a tradition, but a festival of rogues, miscreants and social irritants. You don’t blame them,” he said. (NAN)
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