The GTBank Nollywood Studies Centre (NSC) has organised the first edition of its Filmmakers’ Forum. The guest on the occasion was Mr. Alex Eyengho, a film producer and the president of Association of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP). Mr. Eyengho spoke on the topic, ‘Indigenous Language Films as the Future of Nollywood: the Itsekiri experience.’

Indigenous language filmmaking in Nigeria is not a recent phenomenon. Amadi, the first full-length Nigerian film in an indigenous language, was released in 1975 by Afrocult, the production company of Ola Balogun. It was immediately followed by a series of Yoruba language films. In what could be considered the first phase of Nigerian filmmaking, there were also productions in a few other languages such as Hausa. But the greater number of Nigeria’s over 200 language groups were not represented on the filmmaking landscape. This, however, is changing and currently, there are thriving pockets of indigenous filmmaking in more of the Nigerian languages.

Speaking positively about his experience in the production of films in the Itsekiri language, Mr. Eyengho stated that “film has no language.” According to him, “there is no shame in making films in indigenous languages.” He noted that his most recent Itsekiri film, Oma tsen tsen (2011), had been widely accepted and had received a lot of support from the Delta State Government, organisations and individuals.

However, indigenous language filmmaking does have its challenges. These include the challenge of finding actors who combine skill in the thespian art with a fluency in the indigenous language. Also, indigenous language filmmakers have to create channels, different from those of the mainstream films, to reach their specific audience. At the same time, in the bid to also make their works accessible to a wider public they must also put in some extra effort to subtitle their films.

Nevertheless, Mr. Eyengho encouraged filmmakers not to shy away from making films in their indigenous languages. He went on to add that producers of indigenous films should be creative with their distribution processes and partner with organisations that would protect their copyrights.

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