Nollywood

A Chat with a Nigerian Filmmaker in Italy

Prince Frank Abieyuwa was born and raised in Benin, southern Nigeria. In 2002 he came to Italy where he studied video editing and camera shooting. For some years now he has been trying his hands on music and film production. He is the managing director of I.G.B films and music industry, based in Brescia, southern Italy. This Saturday, 5th February 2011, he told me why he has remained creative, even in a foreign land.

As an African migrant in Italy you have chosen to be a filmmaker, why this career?

“Well, this is the means I have chosen to communicate with the audience. Ever since I was much younger, I have always loved acting and video making. I love sharing my view on people’s ways of life, particularly the Nigerians and the Benin people. My storylines are mainly in this direction in such that our integrity as a people can be protected”.

In 2007, a film of his, “The Only Way After Home…” was presented to a large audience at the Verona’s African film festival, Italy. Although it was not a blockbuster film, the romantic drama which captured the lifestyle of some Nigerian migrants in Italy was good enough to entertain the audience. And as Frank is concerned, the film was a success.

“I’m currently working on a film project which I titled: “It Omo Sexy”, he told me.

As he explained to me on Saturday, his new title, “It Omo Sexy” has to do first of all with a location, Italy, which is the setting of the story. It’s about the bad attitude of some Nigerian women who for some reasons of irregular activities have gotten a sort of upper hand over their men counterparts, especially in terms of money.  And thinking money is everything, some of these young women often use their monetary power to intimidate their fellow Nigerian boyfriends, many of whom are not working and so do not have their own source of income.

Contributing to the above situation are two main reasons and they have been clearly identified over the years. One is that the young men in question are usually illegal migrants in Italy and therefore do not have the permit to work. The other, a rather shameful one is that some of these boys just do not want to work and provide for themselves.

Although Italy is not entirely to be blamed for this, the immigration situation in the country is a harsh reality on many African migrants. Even for those who have the permit to stay and work in the country, their own stories, except for some few are equally miserable and frustrating.

I have heard, for instance, from some legal African migrants who have often said that they are tired of the system, and that they want to return to Africa. Even though I do see them staying back after their lamentations, I know that they are not out of their minds. Some other things are responsible.

Many African migrants in Europe practically face a lot of discriminations, both from some local people and the institutions. I did not say that some efforts are not being made to correct this trend. Even then, the unfavourable climatic condition is no longer news. There are the language impediments and some other countless limitations on the basis of cultural differences. There are also the regular fat bills to pay, the real demons that are socking out the little earnings from poor migrants. Some don’t even have works to do; yet, they must pay the price of living in the European paradise.

In the middle of this suffering is the alluring pressure from family members and friends, back home in Africa. Some just don’t want to know how the money is made in Europe. They want their own piece of the cake and that is all. Then, there are a set of African migrants who are unable to draw a clear line between the reality of living in Europe and what they should transmit to the people back home.

These are the people Frank is talking about; an army on the crossroad.

Some have joined the sinister gangs or their so-called fast lane in order to make quick money. They do this not only because they want to satisfy their personal egos, also because they want to have a pass mark back home. And the judges are no other people than few locals who have been counting days and months since their fellow Africans travelled to Europe. One day they would make a telephone call to them in Europe and remind them of how many years they have stayed away from home. This is also the time they usually pass their unbending judgments, so the pressures are prettily real.

Asking Frank about the reaction from his audience, especially from the Nigerian community, he told me that it has been very cheering to him.

“Some of the most encouraging feedbacks are the calls I often get from different people. They would ask me how I managed to know what has happened to them. So I think that the audience will surely respond if the film is good.”

There is no doubt that trying to correct a discouraging attitude can be quite complex. But let everybody plays his or her little part; if only we can try then we can as well triumph.

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