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The return of Igbo language film

By Nnamdi Ojiego

Worried by the gradual disappearance of films made in Igbo language in the market, a group known as Igbo Film Forum, IFF, has reiterated its commitment to bring back the Igbo films into the mainstream movie industry.

At a media parley in Lagos, the National Coordinator of the Forum and CEO of HMP Productions Limited, Mr Harris Chuma lamented the inability of the film makers to save our local languages from further extinction by making their films in our indigenous languages.

Mr. Chuma observed that Igbo language films started disappearing from the shelve since 1998, as most film makers had this impression that Igbo language films are not commercially viable.

This, according to him, was not provable as movies like ‘Ikuku” produced by Nkem Owoh, “Evil Passion” and many others rendered in Igbo language were successful in the market. He argued that it was films like ‘Living in Bondage’ which were shot in Igbo language and adjudged best sellers locally and internationally that gave birth to Nollywood. “At the advent of Nollywood, quite a number of films were shot in Igbo language which unarguably gave birth to what we now know as Nollywood.”

Mr Chuma, who is also the Director of Publicity, Association of Nollywood Core Producers, ANCOP, regretted that Igbo language has been relegated to the background by Igbo film makers thereby giving room for films made in other languages to thrive in industry.

“At the moment, Yoruba, Hausa, Edo and Effik/Ibibio Language movies have taken control of the Nigeria Home video market. Few years back, a particular Yoruba Film Featured majorly in many international film festivals. One wonders why Igbo films are labeled as bad market by Igbo filmmakers.

He stressed that it was in view of the foregoing that IFF was created to encourage and empower old and young film makers to begin to promote, protect, preserve and project the Igbo language films. “Our primary objective is to bring back the Igbo language films. IFF was not created to usurp the functions of existing guilds and associations in Nollywood. Rather, to address the issue of our fallen Igbo language movies, and give it a re-birth and new direction.

“Our primary focus is on Talent identification, development, deployment and empowerment. We have commenced with the aggressive campaign on the need for every Igbo Film maker to accept the new challenge and go into producing, distributing and screening Igbo language films.”

Meanwhile, June 26 2011, has been scheduled for the premiere of the first Igbo language film by IFF titled “Ezinne.”The movie directed by Chuma features entirely fresh actors and actresses of Igbo extraction.

The forum will also on the same day honour three pioneers of Igbo language film with ‘Igbo Pioneers Awards’. They are Mr. Okey Ogunjiofor, Mrs. Amaka Igwe, Chief Gabby Onyiri amongst awards to be given on that day.

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