‘Yoruba video films come from a tradition based on thorough knowledge of theatre'

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Sola Fosudo, a university teacher and actor par excellence, is one of the most significant voices in the thriving Nollywood industry in Nigeria. He has starred in many box hit movies and is a favourite of many movie freaks. Last week, in the wake of the Lagos State University students’ unrest, the movie chieftain, sitting tiredly in his office tucked away in the Faculty of Arts building of the main campus, spared time to review the business of Nollywood and the attendant government policies that guide the administration of the industry. He spoke particularly about the Yoruba movie industry, which he says, has attained a remarkable technical improvement.

I WANT you to take a look at the Nollywood industry where you have made a significant mark and tell me your impression, especially about the Yoruba films.

Oh Yoruba films?
Yes. Okay, I sincerely think that Yoruba video films are gradually making stronger impressions than before. And this is so because they have learnt from their past mistakes. They also have been influenced by the English films and the high standard that English films have brought to the production of films. Through the use of very good locations, very good cameras, the use of very colourful costumes, Yoruba video films have been able to achieve this. And some of these improvements were absent at first in the Yoruba films in the early days when they started. But when the English films came, they emphasized glamour to a large extent and the Yoruba video film producers learnt a lot from them. These film producers now bring in all these elements in their own film productions.

Beyond all these, one major advantage that Yoruba video film producers have is that they are coming from a tradition that is based on the thorough knowledge of the theatre because many of them grew from the old theatre groups of Ogunde, Baba Sallah, Adejobi and all that. And normally, they go through training sessions. They normally discuss and develop stories in a very artistic way so that they can be very dramatic. So, coming from that background, Yoruba movies have now some kind of advantage over the English films. Presently, because they have these added advantages of good stories, well told stories and well directed stories plus very good technical qualities which they have imbibed from the English films, they have made impressive marks. So, they have these attributes to their advantage; and in my mind, I think Yoruba video films have made some remarkable improvements. I commend them for that.

You have spoken so proudly about Yoruba films. What do you think of language barrier. It doesn’t disturb you that the market scope of the films will be hampered by language use of the actors and actresses?

Yes, it used to be before. But now, all the Yoruba films are sub-titled. I told you that the producers learnt a lot from the English film makers because when they came into the scene, people began to discriminate against the Yoruba films saying that they were limited in terms of audience reception. But that criticism did not last for too long as the film makers resorted to sub-titling their productions so that those who do not understand the Yoruba language could as well follow the story and dramatic import of the story. Just like you and I used to watch a lot of Indian films but understood little of what the stories were all about. But as soon as the films were sub-titled, we enjoyed the films the more.

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