At the premiere of Invasion 1897 at the ongoing Abuja International Film Festival, the director, Lancelot Imasuen, got everyone laughing when he disclosed that he had worried over inviting his colleague, Charles Novia.
Mr. Novia had just commended the movie.
A filmmaker himself, Mr. Novia is known for his articles on his personal blog and in some dailies, lambasting various aspects of Nollywood and the entertainment industry in general, especially the actors.
It was Novia who once stated that two of Nollywood’s biggest actresses, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Genevieve Nnaji, were not great at their craft.
His criticisms are usually seen as “bad belle” and he has often been challenged on his mastery of his profession. One of the actresses at the receiving end of his diatribes once labeled him a “failed filmmaker.”
At the film festival in Abuja, PREMIUM TIMES cornered Mr. Novia to ask him about his “reputation.”
On his critiques, Mr. Novia said: “I’m a filmmaker and then I’m a critique but it is good for one within the system to be a critique. We need to be speaking for ourselves and for my colleagues in the system to realise that I’m one who speaks from the heart and says things the way they are. They (should) not feel bad about it. They (should) know that I’m one who speaks from an objective point of view. It means that one is appreciated as it were. I think there are more of the critiques in Nollywood like me but they don’t have the liver as it were to come out.”
The director then went on to defend his right to appraise Nollywood by citing his contributions to the industry.
“I think you should do a little bit of history of my films. I’m there on Google. I have done over 40 movies and discovered some of the biggest stars you have in Nollywood today; to name a few: Desmond Elliot, Caroline Danjuma, Empress Njamah, Grace Amah… There are many that I’ve brought out from my stables. I keep on doing talent development. I wrote the first book on Nollywood as a filmmaker. I am a member of the Oscar Award committee in the Academy awards. There are a lot of things which one has done at the risk of sounding immodest.”
Mr. Novia, meanwhile, had no bad word to say about Mr. Imasuen’s movie, Invasion 1897. He called it a fantastic movie that tells the story of the Black man.
“It is not just the African story. He has told the story in such a way that invokes a whole lot of nationalism, a new feeling of pride being a Black man. We had our culture, we had our history, and we had a whole lot of things going for us before the colonialists came. Of course, colonialism had its advantages as well as disadvantages. Colonialists came and they tried to force their own culture and imperialism on us. So what Lancelot is trying to do is show that we had history, we had an order; systemic order within the African value system.”