General News | 13 March 2006 08:27 CET

Abeni... love across borders

ONE of Nigeria's prolific filmmakers Tunde Kelani has done what many critics would term a deviation after his last effort entitled Campus Queen.

Abeni, Kelani's latest movie is a popular story of love lost and gained. It is an everyday story that the cinematographer decided to tell in a more professional way, typical of him.

Due for release on March 31 Abeni is coming from the stables of Mainframe Productions, Opomulero, Nigeria and Laha Productions, Benin Republic in collaboration with Dove Media and Nollywood Blockbusters. The new movie which will be released to the Nigerian market on March 31 will be available at Post offices throughout the country, Sweet Sensation fast food outlets, branches of PlatinumHabib banks and all traditional video markets and shops in Nigeria.

The movie, tells the story of a Nigerian girl Abeni from a rich background and Akanni, a Beninoise, from a middle class background, both of whom fell in love after an incident whereby Akanni rescued her from the hands of pranksters during the 10th birthday party of Abeni. The incident led to a fight, which resulted in the sack of Akanni's father from the employ of Abeni's father. Akanni and his parents then relocated to Benin Republic to live their lives. Abeni grew up to a marriageable age with her father pressurising her to marry the son of his business associate. Abeni resisted the pressure from her father and thereby setting the stage for a disastrous wedding to the innocent Akanni.

The interesting love story has several significance. First, at the cultural level, the film explores yet another old and ever present phenomenon, the cohabitation of poverty and wealth, which we experience in our every day lives. Second, at yet another cultural level, the production of Abeni internationally confronted the important reality of colonialisation. The mixture of actors and actresses from the Anglophone and Francophone divides of the Yoruba world, the interpretation and delivery of the dialogues present an interesting look at the stylistic influences of English and French colonialisation on the Yoruba language. While the Nigerian Yoruba actors spoke the language with the infusion of English, the Beninoise actors spoke the French language fluently.

Finally, the project has blazed the trail in the cultural, economic and social integration in West Africa in the true spirit of ECOWAS as advanced by the countries in the sub-region.

Tunde Kelani, producer, director of Abeni, noted that one of the problems of the movie industry in Nigeria is that of distribution and marketing which he said has been conquered and had been hailed internationally as innovative and creative. According to him, it has given Nigeria something to be proud of. He said it has set Nigeria apart from the rest of the world thereby putting Nigeria in a position that makes it difficult for Hollywood to access the Nigerian viewer. "Within us however, we do know that our distribution systems are rather weak and elementary and cannot possibly propel us to greater heights in motion picture production in Africa and the rest of the world."

Consequently, this led to the collaboration between Kelani's company and Dove Media as well as Nollywood Blockbusters. " Fortunately, at this time, our new collaboration with Dove Media and Nollywood Blockbusters present a bold and fresh attempt at addressing the problems posed by the perennial distribution bottleneck in the Nigerian motion picture industry. For me, as a filmmaker and for Mainframe, as a production company, this indeed is a new era".

Kelani does not however see the movie them as pedestal and 'overflogged'. "I am known as a serious filmmaker and it will remain like that, however, Abeni talks about love and other isues connected to it, but the difference is that it is told in a professional way unlike most movies one gets to find."

The movie will sure make a hit as any of Kelani's works such as controversial Agogo Eewo, Thunderbolt (Magun) among others. The inclusion of actors such as Kareem Adepoju (Baba Wande), Amzat Abdel Hakim (Akanni) and lead actress Sola Asedeko (Abeni), sure makes the movie a viewer's delight.

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