By BENJAMIN NJOKU
It was a feast of glitz, accolades and more promise for the Nigerian film industry last Sunday, when Blue Pictures Films and Distribution opened two beautiful cinema halls in Lagos.
Each of the cinema halls at the City Mall, in Onikan, Lagos, boasts 130 seats with an alluring10 by 4 metres screen. But, as many people who gathered for the launch observed, the new cinema’s greatest asset is the home-away-from-home comfort it exudes, coupled with the centrality and ambiance of its location. For one, City Mall largely guarantees easy parking, which many other similar facilities do not.
While film distributor-turned-cinema owner and movie producer, Joy Odiete, was at the centre of the feast, several important personalities from other sectors were also in attendance. Among them were officials of Access Bank, which sponsored the project; officials of Lagos State Government, which gave institutional support; giants in cinema and film business, including Ken Mparu, Mo Abudu and Richard Mofe-Damijo; and razor-tongued comedian, Acapela, who thrilled guests with jokes. While seasoned gospel singer, Sammy Okposo, also celebrated with Joy, popular actor, Gideon Okeke, was the compere of the event. Olatunde Obajeun, who is an engineer, artiste and music producer, handled the redesign of the cinema.
The climax of the event was the premiere of Blue Pictures’ first movie, titled ‘Gone’. A family-oriented feature film, it is a compelling experience and a fantastic way of announcing what Blue Pictures is up to as far as entertainment is concerned in Nigeria. After some initial seemingly slow introductory scenes, ‘Gone’ soon arrests the viewer with its emotion-laden plot and then keeps them gripped till a surprising end.
Featuring stars such as Sam Dede, Bimbo Manuel, Stella Damasus and Gabriel Afolayan, it is the story of the struggle of a man who abandoned his family, due to existential circumstances, now poised to regain them. The man, Animasahun (Dede) leaves the wife (Stella) and their two kids, including vagabond Ayo Chukwu (Afolayan) into the hands of uncertainty as he follows his luck abroad, pushed by the socio-political gale that sent many of his contemporaries away, especially in the 1990s. Unfortunately for him, his life meets a brick wall so that escaping back to Lagos is his only option. He has his former boxing promoter (Manuel) to help him regain life, but how easy will it be for him to regain the woman and his now grown-up children? The movie is so cleverly made that Animasahun’s struggle practically becomes that of the audience too and there is no reprieve even at the end!