If you have watched Òlóturé, you may most likely have been intrigued at just how well the actors (especially the women according to reviews) are able to embody their characters. Or you may have wondered how it all came together. This, basically, is the work of Kenneth Gyang, the very driven director who would have somehow still made his way to television and entertainment if he had achieved his childhood dream of becoming a professional footballer.
“Making [Òlóturé] challenged me to find a balance between my auteur side and how to deal with collaborating with a huge studio like Ebonylife Films. Another major challenge was how to convince the young talented women in the film to keep their heads up and play the role of daring messengers without getting swallowed by the film’s raw message,” Kenneth Gyang tells us when we asked how challenging it was to make the film.
And Òlóturé was definitely an exacting film, with a story that the industry has mostly ignored in spite of its prevalence here in Nigeria and the continent as a whole. Interestingly, it is not the one that resonates with the undeniably talented movie director the most. That honour goes to Confusion Na Wa, Gyang’s debut film that “won Best Film at the Africa Movie Academy Awards, Jury Prize at the Pan African Film Festival in LA and was the opening night film of the New York African Film Festival.” When he set out to make the movie, he had one goal in mind – to announce himself properly as a strong young voice of African cinema. And with the awards it raked in as well as the doors it opened ( I was a guest speaker at the African Studies Association meeting in Indianapolis in 2014), it is safe to say that he achieved his goal.
Undoubtedly, Gyang, who started out professionally in 2006 when he co-directed Wetin Dey, and who considers himself a failed farmer (I remember this minor accident I had with a big hoe on my right toenail which made me vow never to touch that farming implement again. I knew physical labour was not my thing so I had to concentrate on reading. I used to marvel at some of my secondary school classmates who were in the Young Farmers Club. Such bravery!) knows a lot about movies. Which is why we know he is the best person to recommend movies we can binge-watch this weekend and over the holidays.
So, what movies should be on your Netflix must-watch list this month? According to Kenneth Gyang,
It is a hard-hitting film that uses an investigative journalist’s mission to show the brutal nature of sex trafficking. It became our first major crossover film.
This film made me aware of the hardships endured by those who leave their homes in search of a new life. The ensemble cast brings the story to life with remarkable grace. I fell in love with Saoirse Ronan over and over again.
3. Shine Your Eyes
Nigeria’s OC Ukeje delivers a brilliantly understated performance in this Brazilian film by Matias Mariani. I’ve always been a huge fan of Brazilian cinema and this film delivers on all levels.
4. The Life Ahead
Watch it because it marks the return of Italian star Sophia Loren’s to our screens. This is a beautiful film about humanity.
A haunting film about corruption and illegal migration in Africa. This film reminds me of one of my favourite books by Fatou Diome, Belly of the Atlantics… but it is darker.