By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Multiple award-winning film maker, Obi Emelonye has revealed why the highly anticipated biopic on the former Nigerian military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida titled ‘Badamosi: Portrait of a General’ has not been released in the cinemas more than a year after he commenced shooting of the film.
According to Emelonye, the film is making some influential Nigerians uncomfortable.
Emelonye said they had planned distribution of the film in the cinemas last year but because of the grumbling from the dark corners of the country, they decided to withdraw the film from that kind of release for a less confrontational one, which the streaming services offer.
Explaining further, the prolific film maker, who recently got inducted into the prestigious Directors UK in London, said he knew when he took on the character of General Ibrahim Babangida for a film, that it would open a Pandora box of political, ethnic and historical sentiments.
“I knew when I took on the character of General Babangida, who is very controversial and well-loved-and-well-hated for a film, that it would open a Pandora box of political, ethnic and historical sentiments. I think I underestimated the extent to which the problem would exist. So I have come to find out that you could be very objective in telling a story and still not please the world; it becomes more complex, when those people you did not please are in positions of influence because you will struggle to get your voice heard. The film is making some influential people very uncomfortable.”
“We had planned a distribution in the cinemas last year, but because of the grumblings from the dark corners of the country, the team and I decided to withdraw the film from that kind of release for a less confrontational one, which the streaming services offer. While a number of them are interested in the film, they are seeking assurances that their involvement will not get them in the bad books of anybody. We are trying to provide such assurances and as soon as that is done, Badamasi, will be released. The truth of the matter is that nothing can be hidden under the sun.”
‘ Whatever is stopping the release of the film, will not be here forever. I implore my supporters to be patient and assure them that when it is finally released, it will be a historical and political event that will shake the system. I am sure that its success will open a new vista in the journey of biography film making in Nigeria, which I think is needed in the industry. Like my father, Linus Emelonye used to say, ‘God’s time is the best’,”Emelonye stressed
‘Badamosi: Portrait of a General’, written and directed by Emelonye, explores Babangida’s story from childhood up to his run as the Head of State. It also touches several key history points in Nigeria’s history.
IBB was Head of State from August 27, 1985, to August 26, 1993. He previously served as the Chief of Army Staff from January 1984 to August 1985. He is regarded as a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria (July 1966, February 1976, December 1983, August 1985) and notably moved the seat of power from Lagos to Abuja in 1991.
Speaking on the film last year, the filmmaker said he decided to use the IBB story to explore the history and political consciousness of the people.
Already, the film has been nominated for two awards, ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ and ‘Best Visual Effects’ at the forthcoming African Movie Academy Awards slated for December 20,
In a statement by the AMAA jury, Badamasi, got the ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ nomination with Enyinna Nwigwe, for his portrayal of President Ibrahim Babangida in the film.
Meanwhile, on his latest film “Black Mail”, Emelonye said it is a story that emerged from an email he got sometime in May 2020. ”