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Raising the Bar

How challenging has it been as a female film director and producer working in a maledominated field?

I came back to this industry as a grown woman who worked as a lawyer in California for several years, so I do not think I had any time to notice if anyone thought I was female or not. Having survived in the United States as a Black female, then in law school as the only Black person in a class of 70 or 100, coming back here was nothing to me. I just go about doing my work; not paying attention to the people around placing obstacles. However, I noticed that it is more difficult trying to raise funds because many investors prefer to give to a man. Well, they have seen that it doesn’t always work out. First and foremost, you must find someone who knows what they are doing. I think with my experience and the way I approach things, many people realize that I do and respect me. Therefore, in that sense, I have not had that many challenges as a woman in the industry.

You were one of the practitioners that founded the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC), approved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to screen Nigerian films submitted for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards. How much progress has the NOSC made so far in promoting Nollywood?

I am still a part of the Oscar selection committee for Nigeria, and we are still trying to make progress. The major problem is that we do not have products that are good enough to push. In the past few months some products have come out and I think the Oscar selection committee will start getting busy. You have to call a spade a spade, the Oscars was just the other night and if you pick up the movies that won or were nominated, even in the foreign language category, you can see the quality of work. Obviously the people in the selection committee in Nigeria have a very good sense and they wouldn’t want us to put any wrong foot forward. They want to bring the best from Nigeria. The movie, Son of Saul directed by László Nemes from Hungary won the award for Foreign Language. As part of the Oscar selection committee, it is what I would hope for Nigeria. The other committee members are also people who like quality products. We will try to bring out the best to represent Nigeria when the time comes, but for now we are not there yet.

The Meeting won the Best Movie (Comedy) award at the AMVCA 2015. What was it like on the set and how did you feel when the film won?

(Laughs) The Meeting was shot almost four years ago. Being on set was fantastic. It was quite challenging but we were prepared for everything we faced. It was difficult raising funds and while we were on set we had to make sure everything went right. However, I had a capable crew and cast who made everything interesting. There are many lovely memories; most of the people who worked on that set still call me today and we talk about them.

How did it feel to have won the AMVCA 2015?

Well, it felt fantastic considering the fact that the AMVCA is one of the most popular award schemes on the continent. It is remarkable that when the AMVCA’s are on, almost everyone in Africa is watching, so it is such an important award to win and I felt very happy when we did. Obviously, it is all thanks to the viewers out there for thinking The Meeting is worthy of winning.

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