Tam Fiofori recalls a forum where Toyin Akinosho of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) observed that older filmmakers shy away from collaborations with younger ones; coaxing Fiofori to identify Joel Benson, a younger filmmaker, with whom he has now produced two films – J. D. Ojeikhere: Master Photographer and Olu Amoda: A Metallic Journey.
A Metallic Journey narrates the story of Olu Amoda, an artist, who has sculpted monumental pieces, using metal as his primary tool. Amoda, who sees himself as a modern-day archaeologist, goes gathering metals all around town in order to maintain the supply of his ‘raw material’.
He constructs A-Line skirts with funnels, which are truly impressive installations and in one of the pieces, he even designs the funnel lady as she performs the break-dance. His use of nails in assembling massive installations is awe-inspiring.
Fiofori and Benson capture Amoda’s art in a most vivid fashion, interviewing Omoba Yemisi Shyllon (renowned art collector and founder OYASAF), Adebisi Aderonke Arije (artist/art critic) and Chief Arthur Mbanefo (art collector/former Nigerian Ambassador to the UN).
In his Queen of the Night Series, which features sculptures of scantily clad ladies, who work as prostitutes, Arije chooses to interpret the art as another way of expressing the beauty that God has created in women rather than art that debases women, since according to her, she is a humanist rather than a feminist. She remarked that the female form is one of the most profound forms from which Amoda draws inspiration.
Shyllon, whose commodious compound is replete with Amoda’s works, posits that the level of imagination in Amoda’s works is enviable; affirming that Amoda will make a lasting impact in the world.
Indeed, Fiofori has put his money where his mouth is. He contributed a piece to the defunct 234next (next on Sunday) a few years ago, which he concluded by stating that, ‘We grumble about BBC’s documentary on the challenges of building a mega city like Lagos.
‘Recently, Aljazeera aired its own documentary, Streets of Lagos: much the same, with visual emphasis on Makoko, street trading and a slap-in-the-face shot of a scavenger; waving a huge Nigerian flag in the middle of a rubbish-dump mountain. A few hours after the bomb attack on the Force Headquarters, Abuja, Aljazeera aired a quasi-documentary on Boko Haram.
‘The inability and reluctance of Nigerian TV stations to air many documentaries are down to twin reasons. A lack of a budget for documentaries tied to the reality of not wanting to pay well for independently-produced documentaries and a lack of the creative foresight that most TV programmes other than the News are farmed out or sourced from independent producers.
‘Luckily, the Film Institute in Jos and Mass Communications departments in Nigerian tertiary institutions are yearly producing the needed manpower. Depending on corporate and social documentaries for which the sponsors pay air-time cannot compensate for the relative dearth of a spectrum of documentaries Nigerian TV stations should screen daily.
‘To a great extent, it is their social responsibility.’
Needless to say, Fiofori also sees documentary film-making as his social responsibility and is not only deploying his widow’s mite in producing them, but is now collaborating with the younger generation. Kudos.
The producers of Olu Amoda: A Metallic Journey should reverse the names of Yemisi Shyllon and Adebisi Arije, which were mistakenly interchanged for each other towards the end of the film.