Jimmy Jean Louis, the Haitian-born actor lands in Lagos in April, 2012 to co-host the Africa Movie Academy Awards, AMAA, and decides to record his experiences in the documentary film, Jimmy Goes to Nollywood.
In telling his story, Jean Louis combines interviews with clips from many films – from the serious to the funny and the downright ridiculous. He interviews Leila Djansi, in whose film, Sinking Sand, he stars. Djansi makes a profound statement on how African film-makers strive to survive the harsh economic realities of doing the motion picture business in this part of the world. She says, “When we push, the wall moves.”
Jean Louis also interviews Tony Abulu, the producer of Doctor Bello; Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda, Inale, Last Flight to Abuja), Akin Omotoso (director, Man on Ground), Isaiah Washington, Majid Michel, Ebbe Bassey, O. C. Ukeje and Chris Ikejimbe.
The beauty of this film is that Jean Louis not only identifies the right people to speak with, but also asks the right questions. It is cheering to know that despite the fact that Jean Louis had only spent a short time as an actor in Nollywood before undertaking the project, he understands the industry’s challenges and accomplishments. Most importantly, the film is engaging and entertaining.
Jimmy Goes to Nollywood beats Dayo Balogun’s Project Rebranding Nollywood, another documentary which treats a similar issue, but fails to tackle its subject appropriately. The disconcerting thing about Balogun’s film is that it is very easy to see that he did not carry out ample research before embarking on the project. Whereas Balogun is of Nigerian parentage and is currently studying Film-making, which necessitated the documentary, Jean Louis is an actor, who has only featured in a few Nollywood films, but must have taken out time to study the art and business of Film-making in Nigeria; culminating in a better executed project.
Consequently, the place of research in Documentary Film-making cannot be overstated.