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October 20, 2020

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Has Nollywood been silent about Police brutality? [Pulse Editor’s Opinion] [ARTICLE]

3 min read

Amid the nationwide outcry, the silence of the film industry could not be more conspicuous.

Over the years, Nigerian artistes have doled out song after song, condemning incessant attacks on unsuspecting citizens. But can Nollywood say the same?

Well, not exactly. Since 1993, there has been no trending film tackling police brutality as its central theme. But the film industry has not been entirely silent about this menace.

Ramsey Nouah in  Izu Ojukwu's  '76' based on the Nigerian civil war [YouTube]

Ramsey Nouah in Izu Ojukwu’s ’76’ based on the Nigerian civil war [YouTube]

Over the years, films lampooning Police methods in Nigeria have made it to film shelves. Some comedies show elements of the decay in the Police force. Sometimes, it is a scene on Police officers receiving bribes or one of an innocent victim assaulted and thrown in jail without due investigation.

Films portraying the force in the shiniest light possible also make the spotlight. In 2000, Okey Ogunjiofor created ‘Area C’ comedy series for the Nigerian Television Authority. It was expectedly a classic exaggeration of the virtues of the force.

ALSO READ: 5 ways ‘New Nollywood’ filmmakers can contribute more to the Nigerian project

Away from lampoons, exaggerated depictions of the Police, Nollywood producers have also dabbled into the good cop versus bad cop narrative. Take Teco Benson‘s crime thriller, ‘Mission To Nowhere’ for instance. In the classic flick, Sam Dede, a good cop, sets out to uncover the circumstances leading to the death of a socialite.

In recent times, there is Akin Omotoso‘s ‘The Ghost And The House Of Truth’ (2019) reflecting both positive and realistic depictions of the Police or Seyi Siwoku‘s ‘Crossroads’ (2018).

So how come there are no Nollywood movies with police brutality as its central theme?

Beyond the passion that drives filmmakers, they also consider themes that could blow. This commercial viability point of view feeds on the school of thought that social trends do well as themes.

Richard Mofe-Damijo in upcoming 'Crossroads' movie [Instagram/@themoviecrossroads]

Richard Mofe-Damijo in upcoming ‘Crossroads’ movie [Instagram/@themoviecrossroads]

The success of Lancelot Imaseun‘s ‘Issakaba’ franchise and other similar productions relied on spinning stories on the infamous Otokoto rituals in eastern Nigeria and other dastardly crimes of the 90s.

Another factor is one that filmmakers scarcely address publicly. The elephant in the room is institutionalized bodies curbing creative expressions. These bodies will antagonize films perceived to be anything but filled with glowing reviews of the administration in power. Call it enforced patriotism if you like.

Non-conformists are better off producing romcoms, comedies, remakes, or whatever flies without the raising of eyebrows.

The latest protests could, however, be a turning point in Nollywood. Filmmakers must defy the odds and create films for posterity.

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*Pulse Editor’s Opinion is the opinion of an editor at Pulse. It does not represent the views of the Organisation Pulse.


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