The British Council hosted a private pre-release film screening of a new Nollywood film titled “Up North” at its Lagos office this past weekend. Some cast members like Rekiya Attah and the crew including the director, Tope Oshin-Ogun, were in attendance.
The film, which was written by Chinaza Onuzo and Bunmi Ajakaiye, is based on a story by Editi Effiong.
Anakle Films and Inkblot, makers of Wedding Party 1&2 and New Money, produced the movie which was shot in Lagos and Bauchi states.
The movie’s plot sees a controlling billionaire father (Kanayo O. Kanayo) get fed up with his rebellious son, Bassey (Banky W), and sends him off to NYSC in Bauchi. Up North follows Bassey’s journey to self-discovery as he navigates life, love, friendship, and purpose in this feel good, coming of age drama.
The film beams the spotlight on girl child education and the empowerment of girls within the local northern community where the protagonist begins a new life.
The film is led by a star cast including Rahama Sadau, Adesua Etomi-Wellington and Ibrahim Suleiman.
Others are Michelle Dede, Sani Mu’azu, Tokunbor ‘T-Boss’ Idowu and many others.
Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State also made a cameo appearance playing himself in the movie.
PREMIUM TIMES had a chat with the director, Oshin-Ogun, at the gathering about the idea behind the film.
“The intention of the film is broadly nationalist, Bauchi is also a part of Nigeria and I bet you’ve never seen this part of Nigeria before. For one, I never thought there were lakes up north; when you are thinking about the north, you are thinking of a desert. So the ultimate thing was, let us show other Nigerians what the north looks like. Let’s not think about the terrorism and say I am not going to serve up north.”
The director also added that the warm nature of the Bauchi residents made the shoot seamless and worthwhile.
She said, “The people of Bauchi are very friendly, in the middle of the shoot, people would come right up and offer to be in the scene without taking anything, they just wanted to support.
“For me, that was a pleasant surprise and Bauchi state is beautiful. We were up there in Bauchi State for one month so you can imagine how safe the state is.”
Speaking on how the production team got the nod of the Bauchi State governor, she said the executive producer had a chance meeting with the governor.
“Editi, who is the executive producer of the film, had gone to Bauchi some years before this film was made and he was surprised at the beauty of the state. He was later on a flight with the governor and he got bold and walked up to him and they held a conversation about shooting a film in the state and the governor was open to it.
“He then pledged his support to Editi ‘whenever you people are ready, we are here to support you.’ So when he returned two years later, he said ‘whatever you people need, I’ll give to you,’ access to the stadium, Durbar festival, even his personal convoy.”
“There was already word in town that there was going to be a film made in Bauchi so when we went to the locations, the governor took us around and introduced us to people saying something big was about to happen and they had to support us.
“It was also interesting to watch the Bauchi State governor play himself in the movie albeit for a few minutes. The director revealed that like other cast members, he was auditioned for the role.
“He wanted to read the script so when he read the script, he said he liked it and asked if he could play himself. Editi then said ‘You have to audition for my director’ and he said ‘fine, I’ll do it’ and he did,” she explained.
“On the day of the shoot himself, I made him do three takes, he was very warm and accommodating. Even when his security detail said they had to be somewhere else, he said ‘be patient, let me be done with my role’.”
Up North is currently showing in cinemas across Nigeria.