I have a dream…that one day I shall be producing and directing world-class movies…and I have another dream, that the first dream will not be a dream for much longer.
Why am I dreaming this wet afternoon? Because I am writing about Chineze Anyaene, Writer, Producer and Director of the award-winning movie, ‘IJE: The Journey’ which stars some of our featured actresses; Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Genevieve Nnaji.
The movie IJE ‘transports the audience from the lush countryside of Nigeria, to the intensity and seductive power of Los Angeles. It tells the story of two sisters with unbreakable bonds of loyalty and the power of the human spirit. Anya, the eldest of the two, vows to chase her dreams of glamour in the Hollywood Hills, her younger sister, Chioma—warns her of the dark side of the American Dream. Now, years later, and in a world away from the life she knew, Anya is charged with the murder of three men, one of them her powerful husband. Chioma travels to her sister’s side to battle not only a flawed justice system with the aid of a young and disillusioned attorney, but the very notion of “truth” as the cultural values of two worlds collide. Weaving a melodic and beautiful score through rich visuals in Los Angeles and flashbacks on location in Nigeria, IJE captures the viewer from the very first scene and delivers a powerful message through to the moving conclusion.’
The young Igbo film maker was born and raised in Abuja, Nigeria. She graduated from Regina Pacis College, Abuja and went on to attend the University of Abuja, Nigeria. In 2005, Chineze began a one year filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy [part of my dreams]. At the completion of a highly productive course which saw her produce and direct several short films, Chineze embarked on a Master’s degree at the same institution. Did I mention that she was recognized for creating an outstanding epic folktale, noted as the best “foreign film” of her graduating class?
The first student of the NYFA to make a feature film while in school, Chineze espoused her reasons for taking the plunge thus: “You know, when we were in school, we would always shoot 15-minute films with a lot of money. You could spend like $20,000 shooting a 15-minute film, a film that will not bring any return on investment. I then told myself, I have to look for a way to make this movie commercially viable instead of wasting time and money with no gain in return.” A proper Igbo woman, don’t you agree?
So the journey to make ‘The Journey’ was embarked upon. Over N100million naira and a year later in 2009, IJE was completed and the awards started rolling in. And it was not as easy as it sounds either. Chineze stated in an interview, “It was my first time and I was very nervous… I thought shooting a film was not difficult until I gave it a trial. So, I have learnt how to plan ahead of time in the area of marketing and distribution. I have learnt how to work hard and to have patience. I shot the movie in 2008, registered it 2009 and now in VCD 2012.”
The movie which was co-produced by Paula Moreno a Producer and Director of repute who currently works for vision4media has won a slew of awards, including the best film feature at the Arizona Black Film Showcase, Golden Ace award at the Las Vegas Intl. Film Festival, the Silver Palm award at the Mexico Intl, Film Festival, and an award for excelling in filmmaking at the Canada International Film Festival.
Wonder why she has no Nigerian Awards? Fear of pirates and piracy which is really sad.
Chineze has gone on to found her film making machine, Xandria Productions and I am sure she has more superb surprises lined up; I would so love to have a taste of that pudding…sorry Publisher.
A portion of the sales of IJE, goes to support the VOW foundation which raises awareness about the ills of rape, domestic violence and inequality in Africa which has ravaged the hearts, minds and bodies of innocent women for far too long.