Laurence Ani offers glimpses of a soon-to-be-shot movie by enigmatic director, Didi Cheeka
Here’s dialogue from a coming movie: “Among our people was a great queen - Amina. A warrior queen. She led an army of thousands and took a man for the night wherever she camped. The next morning she had him killed, so he would not live to tell what it was like with the queen... She was feared - physically and morally - because she violated tradition.” You wonder if the intention of the writer of these lines is to violate [Nigeria’s movie] tradition.
“I set out deliberately to destroy the notion of what constitutes Nigerian movies and how they are made,’ replies Didi Cheeka, one of Nigeria’s emerging most original, certainly eccentric filmmakers. “I guess, in doing this, I’m also out to destroy, deliberately, the notion of what a Nigerian audience is or is not yet ready for cinematically. My goal is to make a film that moves the audience through powerful characters, an original and topical plotline, enough indignation, enough compassion [to hold them,] and an extraordinarily original visual style. I’ve always thought of the Nigerian audience as part of world film audience – what attracts them is not the same as what worked in the past. I have set out, not to tell a ‘Nigerian story’ to a ‘Nigerian audience,’ but rather to tell a human story, a well-told story. It is this that connects a film with an audience – a compelling story, about compelling characters, told in a compelling way.”
A gung ho crew is already in attack formation. No prisoners. “I’m rounding up the usual suspects! There will be only a few newcomers to break in.” Like Gozi Ochonogor of UK based UM–1, who is in talks with the filmmaker to come up with a whole set of wardrobe that defines the incarnate of the warrior queen – sans cavalry – in the series of situations she finds herself in. In other words, how will she dress to kill? Didi sees Malian model/actress Youma Diakite in the lead. Really, this is the challenge: Youma, judging from her sexy wallpapers, seems more comfortable undressed than dressed. “When a man is drunk,” Didi says, as if trying to justify his choice, “there is something he sees in a woman. In Youma, even when you are not drunk, you see that something.”
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