Category Archives: NollyWood

And the winner is…

Awards are always a great event to look forward to. No matter the industry a person belongs to, people who distinguish themselves look forward to being awarded at such events. It’s a moment of glitz and glamor when winners shine and losers live to win another day. The goal of awards, of course, is primarily to honor persons who have distinguished themselves from their peers. A person is awarded for a deed done.

The motion picture industry all over the world holds awards to reward the darlings of the screen who keep us smiling with spectacular performance. Such awards often keep individuals glued to their TV sets to see if their stars will pick a statue. Some of these awards are prestigious and rightly so because they are credible and very transparent. For such awards, there is a strong structure on ground, there are rules as to how people are nominated and voted. That is why they say if you have been nominated, you are already a winner.

The question then is: what process is followed in prestigious awards to ensure that they are credible and transparent? This is important because no one would want to pick an award that is not worth the wood it is carved out of. Indeed, what good is an award, if the people in your industry would send you the traditional ‘yimu’ after you have picked it?

The Oscars is a prestigious award. It has been held yearly since 1929. Oscar night is a big deal all over the world as networks jostle to get rights to broadcast live to those so unfortunate as not to be there to witness the event. The red carpet reads like the who is who in Hollywood and everyone that is in the motion picture industry and who cares about Hollywood would definitely clear their schedules to be there whether they are nominated for awards or not.

The Oscars generates such a huge buzz in the media. The 84th academy awards had a whooping 37 million viewers worldwide and millions more joined in conversations about the Oscars through social media such as Twitter.

You would agree with me that The Oscars is a transparently run award but not everyone has always agreed with this. It is on record that George C. Scott and Marlon Brando rejected Oscar Awards for transparency reasons in 1970 and 1972 respectively. The response from The Oscars board was to make the awards less ‘racist’ and the process more inclusive. Of course in the show biz industry image and perception is everything.

The rules for entry into the Oscars are clearly stated and sometimes modified in order to make the process more transparent. You can find entry qualification into the Oscars here. http:/

Of course every award has a right to set its own rules and standards, but when you want to start off something new, you tend to do an analysis of existing trends to see how to better them. I shall now dwell on some features of The Oscars rules for entry and voting that makes the process more transparent.

The first is that any entry into the Oscars must be publicly exhibited. Even foreign films are given a window to exhibit in a cinema for at least seven days. How does this help transparency? For starters, as any creative writer knows the process of creative writing does not end until you have published it. You can not claim you have completed production if you have not exhibited your production in public domain. A private screening where you invite your friends is not an exhibition, as what this basically yields is a critique of your production in case you need to go do some more work on it. This would best qualify as part of the editing process. Plus, as any mass communicator would tell you, the communication process is not complete until you get feedback from your audience.

The second is the number of persons that make up the academy. The Oscars has about 6,000 persons that make up the academy. These 6,000 represent the 15 different categories of individuals involved in the process of film making. This includes actors, directors, editors, screenwriters and so on. In fact, each of these categories get to nominate who wins awards in each of their areas of influence, so directors nominate directors and so on and at the end of the day the jurors sit to analyze and select the top nominees and then the members of the academy again vote for winners and the winner of course is known to only 2 persons until the announcement is made.

The process of exhibiting publicly and then having such a large number involved in the process of nomination goes a long way to give transparency and credibility to the entire process. If you do not win, it simply means that your friends in the industry after viewing your work felt that the work of your other friend is better and so you have no choice but to accept the decision of the majority.

I must repeat that EVERY award body has the right to set its own rules. The use of the Oscars as a case study is just to show how far some bodies have gone to make the process transparent. While 10 people can sit and decide who wins what, you will readily agree that not many would feel that the process is transparent enough.

I sincerely hope that anyone interested in running transparent awards in Nigeria and beyond would take a cue from the Oscars so that when we hear ‘and the winner is…’ we will all rise and give the winner a standing ovation for a win well deserved.


Posted by on May 7, 2012 in General, NollyWood


A Critical Look at Critics

Who Will Watch The Watchers?

I asked this question once, over ten years ago, but in a different circumstance. That was just about the time every radio station believed (some of them still do) that the only way to beat the competition was to get presenters who sound foreign to work in their stations if they could not afford to hire a foreigner. So, one of basis for recruiting radio presenters was their ability to “twist their tongue” and to speak “American slangs”. And what a sordid mess some of them made! But this article is not about radio presenters. It is about Nollywood movie critics!
According to a movie critique is not just a summary of a movie, but a critical analysis that examines why and how a movie works and whether the film succeeds in its presentation. A movie critic’s job is to watch a movie and then critique it using certain terms of reference. Some of these include: how strong the script or dialogue is; how strong the acting or characterisation is and what the theme or central idea behind the movie is. The critic also provides information about plot outline and visual elements which could include cinematography, editing, sound effects and musical score. However, it should be noted that there is a difference between a movie review and a movie critique. Unlike a review, a critique requires that you give reasons for your opinion on a movie.
In recent years and with the growth of Nollywood into one of the top three largest movie producers in the world, a number of blogs have arisen with the sole aim of providing reviews/critiques of Nollywood movies. The promise is that they will tell you what movies to see and which may not be worth your time. Sadly, some of them seem to churn out mere publicity materials in favour of producers or film makers they adore. Or how would you explain reading a movie review, smiling all the way to the cinema, patiently waiting to buy a ticket only to end up enjoying the pop corn! I have read three different critics talk about a movie and at the end of the day I was totally disappointed at the outcome.
But why bother to critique a movie? After all, research has shown that most persons make a decision to go see a movie or not, based on what their friend’s say or what they see on the movie promo or on the trailer. Does Nollywood really need movie critics? Or to put the question in other words, will movie criticisms help the growth of Nollywood?
Permit me, like a typical Nigerian, to answer these questions with another question: would you prefer your friend look you straight in the eye and lie to you? Imagine you all dressed up for a function and you turn to your friend and ask: how do I look? Your friend looks at you and notices you have a green leaf caught between you teeth. Instead of telling you, he reasons: my guy has spent hours preparing for this event; he ironed his clothes, had a bath and is even wearing a sweet smelling perfume. He has worked so hard to look this good, why should I tell him about something as little as a bit of green stuck in his teeth? And so he doesn’t. He tells you instead that you are camera ready. Great friend, isn’t he?
So, who will watch the watchers? And who will critique the critics?
For Nollywood to reach intended heights, we do not need praise singers. We do not need sycophants who will have only good things to report about her or who will be all too willing to exault mediocrity. We need a crop of critics who will be willing to tell her that she has some ‘green’ in her teeth because that ‘green’ could just be the ‘something’ that is holding her back from being camera ready. Only when we see and take off that ‘green’ will Nollywood attain the status that it should in the world of movie/ film making.
So, what does it take to do a critical movie review? Foremost movie critic Anthony Lane, gives five guidelines to anyone who decides to be a movie critic, in his introduction to “Nobody’s Perfect: Writing from the New Yorker”:
  1. Never read the publicity material
  2. Whenever possible, see a film in the company of ordinary human beings
  3. Try to keep up with the documentaries about Swabian transsexuals {or see everything regardless of budget or hype}
  4. Whenever possible, pass judgement on a movie the day after it comes out, otherwise wait another fifty years
  5. Try to avoid the Lane technique of summer movie going
(Aside: you can learn about number five and read more about Anthony Lane here:
So next time you pull out your laptop or your PC and you decide to critique a Nollywood movie, approach your review with a sense of responsibility. Remember that someone is reading and your review is not just a determinant as to whether they should go see the movie or not, it is not about helping the producer rake in more funds by having only good things to say about the movie. It is neither a time to show how much you love the film maker nor an opportunity for you to gain the recognition of the film maker so that he invites you to the next premiere. It is an opportunity to contribute something to the growth of Nollywood, a time to open up a discussion on the art and craft of film making, so that both the audience and the film maker walk away better educated about movies. If this is not your determination, I plead that you hold your peace.  And yes, if you are an actor or a producer actively looking for work, do yourself a favour – DO NOT bother to add critic to your credential!
We will be watching!

Posted by on April 3, 2012 in General, NollyWood