Africa International Film FestivalFILMFilmmakingopinion

Black Man in White Man Skin

The above caption though may come with a degree of ambiguity, however, it is still as plain in meaning as it can ever be. 

No one can be victorious alone. All victories are a cumulation of ‘seeds’ invested by different individuals at different times and spaces. Same as success. For instance, for the South to be free from the bondage of the West, southerners will need to seek the help of some westerners to facilitate their freedom.

Likewise, for the Nigerian film industry to make qualitative headway in the highly competitive cinematic world, and to be able to make compelling stories for a global audience, we must be willing to learn from the designers and initiators of the tools and systems that are involved in filmmaking.  

A half-century ago, Bolaji Idowu, a clergy cum intellectual, who studied the affairs of Africa in his time (which is sadly the truth in the present dispensation) observed that;

“Africa in a way corresponding to her vital statistics on the map of the world carries a question mark in her heart. This is a question within herself, and a question about her to the rest of the world.”

The reason for the question is that Africa is just now passing through the birth-throes of a new life. She has been a century-long sufferer: her illness has been written off as chronic, her sickness as sickness unto death or, at best, something that would leave her more dead than alive. She has suffered so much because she has been callously and frequently raped and despoiled by the strong ones of the world who are adept in the art of benevolent exploitation and civilized savagery. Even now there are organs of her body which are under torture and cruel assault and, consequently, she is still more or less a sick personality.” 

The purpose of this write-up is to establish the fact that Nigerian filmmakers cannot be accorded a global ovation for making quality films without the willingness to master the art and craft of filmmaking through the prism of the West. 

Man is man, wherever he may be found on the surface of the earth. Though the skin pigment and language may differ. Whether black or white, Lebanese or Latino, Chinese or Chilean, Nigerian or Netherlander, man is man.   

A couple of months ago, during the Eleventh Edition of the Africa International Film Festival(AFRIFF), my interest in filmmaking propelled me to attend a Master’s class in Directing and Producing. Ideally, these are supposed to be separate classes, but the facilitator, being a man of immense experience in filmmaking told the organizer to merge the two classes. They did, and guess what, the value we got from this class was immeasurable. 

Meanwhile, Bolaji Idowu did not leave his readers wandering aimlessly in the labyrinth of thought. He wrote about the other side of the coin in the face of all that is bedeviling us. Idowu opens a tiny window to let in the little ray of hope in the darkroom of history saying;

“Nevertheless, she is not without friends. There have been those who have given their lives, their time, or of their substance in order to heal her ‘open sore’ which has various manifestations. Such friends are still few and far between…”

Of such man is this Black man in the White man’s skin, Lawrence David Foldes. Lawrence’s filmmaking career spans over 4 decades. He’s a long-standing member of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the Student Academy Awards for more than two decades, representing the SSA at festivals and film organizations internationally. 

Lawrence was able to strip himself of any form of racial discrimination, prejudice, and antagonism. He gave his all to his students. 

“Storytelling is your heritage” Lawrence unequivocally affirms in one of his highly impactful classes.

Speaking to his mixed-nationality students, he continues;

“It’s in your culture. Storytelling is what filmmaking is about.  You’re all storytellers by nature, one of the things you must do is to master how to beautifully weave the stories together for the global audience to feel what you want them to feel. The most important thing always is excellence. Excellence in every aspect of the craft.” 

Lawrence, being an excellent and determined teacher, prioritized his students’ needs above other important festival programs. I remember him telling his students that they are more important to him and that he will do all within his capacity to make sure the students eventually leave his class being well equipped. 

In his bid to raise his students’ consciousness over material gains, he says; “your movie is your legacy. Your movie is who you are. It will be one of the things that are left of you.” 

Lawrence advised the filmmakers in his class that if they do what is required of them, the gains will come. Suggesting that money is the by-product of excellence;

“If you’re good at it, fame, wealth, and recognition will come. If you would make it they will come, stay with it. Filmmaking is an art. If you are good at it, maintaining the culture of excellence, ‘they’ will come.” Lawrence affirms. 

N.B Kindly watch the video excerpts of the Master Class, and please, don’t forget to like, subscribe and share:

'PELUMI A. Pelumi-Folarin

OLUWANBEPELUMI Adiv Pelumi-Folarin is a filmmaker with experience in project and organizational management. He studied creative production at the highly prestigious EbonyLife Creative Academy. He also did directing and post-production at the Africa Film Academy. PLM, as he's fondly called, has a professional credential in screenwriting from the University of Cambridge. He is the founder of Shining Africans Testimony, a registered NGO that has consistently and effectively lived by its tenet for more than a decade: "Changing Africans' mindset positively." Pelumi is the CEO of Shining AfriTest Studios. PLM is passionate about the emancipation of Africa and its people.

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