Introducing the Cinema of Femi Odugbemi at Northwestern University
Award-winning film-maker Femi Odugbemi, visited the Illinois State University and Northwestern University, Chicago, to discuss the meteoric growth of the Nigerian film industry.
While there, three of his best works were screened for a study on the Nigerian film industry.
Amongst the distinguished scholars who were part of programme were Prof. Paul Ugor of the English literature and cultures department of Illinois State University and Prof. Jonathan Haynes the renowned leading scholar of Nollywood from Long Island University in New York.
Recognised as a film industry thought leader, Odugbemi served as president of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria from 2002 to 2006 and chaired the Lagos International Forum on Cinema, Motion Picture, and Video in Africa. In addition, he has served as a juror for the prestigious Emmy Awards, as well as been on festive film boards and juries in several countries including South Africa, Uganda and Ghana
Odugbemi, who’s famous credits include Gidi Blues, Battleground, Tinsel, Maroko and Bariga Boy, says every avenue for any artiste to interact with an academic opportunity, is an avenue for growth. “I think every opportunity for an artiste to engage the academic community and subject his or her work to critical analysis can only be an opportunity to grow,”
During his 16-day visit, he shared his thoughts and optimism of the rapid growth of one of the world’s biggest film industries, Nollywood and the evolution of its stories and how it is beginning to advance its narratives within the context of contemporary history, politics and sociology, as can be seen in films like 76, 93 Days, Slow Country, Gidi Blues, Makoko, The Meeting and The Wedding Party.
“For Nollywood to achieve potential as a global force, we have to bring intellectual rigour to it as well. We must keep telling stories of Africa, yes, but to expand distribution of our films internationally, we also must find new storytelling techniques to attract global audiences to watch and enjoy our films”. Odubgemi said, before embarking on the trip.
At Northwestern University, three of his documentaries were critically analysed, including Makoko: Future Afloat; which won the best film at the Slum Film Festival in Nairobi and was nominated for the AMVCA and the AMAA awards; Bariga Boy; which won the best documentary award at the 2009 AMAA; and his 2005 film Oui Voodoo.
To Odugbemi, this feat is a welcome opportunity for him to articulate his creative philosophy, examine his creative process and internalize new ideas and opinions to feed his creative development.
In addition, to screening at both universities, his feature film, Gidi Blues was screened at the Block Theatre to wrap up his stay.
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