Kunle Afolayan; Preaching the Gospel of African Movies, by Africans, for Africans…

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Araromireeeeee…that soundtrack sent chills down my spine as I watched the highly acclaimed, award winning, internationally renowned film, ‘The Figurine’ by the grand maestro, the one and only Kunle Afolayan!!! Someone put some thought into the production of that movie; yes indeed.

Producer, director, actor, all-round film maker, Kunle Afolayan, son of legendary theatre director and producer, Ade Love, keeps raising the bar, and motivating Nigerian -and I daresay- African filmmakers to go the extra mile in producing noteworthy films.

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The Kwara-born dashing dude who attended the Lagos State Polytechnic [LASPOTECH], and the University of Lagos where he graduated with a degree in Economics, seems to have some serious filmmaking DNA in his blood. The Figurine was conceived while he worked as a banker; a sure sign that he was intended for other things quite apart from inhaling the aroma of freshly minted notes in the confines of a formal office environment. So off he went, shedding his suit and briefcase for a director’s chair. He refined his skills at the New York Film Academy, and came out with both guns blazing.

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After the success of his first movie, ‘Irapada’, Kunle was emboldened to take up the bigger project of shooting ‘The Figurine’ across three states with a budget of a quarter of a million pounds. A few sponsorships deals, product placements, loans and “investing his life savings” later, his award winning film was set to hit the cinemas. Nominated in over ten categories at the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), ‘The Figurine’ won five major awards and experienced tremendous success in Nigerian Cinemas. It was screened at the London African Film Festival, the New York African Film Festival, the Tokyo African Film Festival, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Talk about traversing continents with film.

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In May, 2013, an honorary invitation was extended to the CEO of Golden Effects Pictures to premier ‘The Figurine and ‘Phone Swap at the 2013 Tokyo African Film Festival, thus acting as an unofficial ambassador of the Nigerian Film Industry to Asia. In his reaction to the development, Kunle stated, “It is no doubt another ground breaking opportunity to showcase and promote African cinemas to the Asian world. It will also afford many people to have a direct experience of cinemas in Africa, made by Africans, understand our stories as told by us. Africa and Africans can no longer allow their stories to be told from Hollywood’s perspectives. I hope the African and Nigerian communities in Japan would seize this opportunity to enjoy quality film and let’s celebrate a new beginning in African cinema.”

Among many other activities, Kunle appeared at the Subversive Film Festival in 2011 where he represented the second largest film industry in the world- The Nigerian film industry with his colleague Zeb Ejiro.

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Kunle always has irons in the fire. While chasing down another block buster entitled ‘October 1’ which is estimated at $2million, the prolific filmmaker teamed up with DSTV’s AfricaMagic Yoruba to launch a new documentary programme, ‘Isedale’, a 26 episode documentary series which focuses on the Yoruba kingdom and culture. It debuted on AfricaMagic Yoruba in January 2013 and was such a hit that it was moved to prime-time TV for greater viewership.

“Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes,” Robert Altman once stated, and I agree; I think Kunle would too. He’s relived the past, the present and the future through his films, and he’s just getting started. A little bird told me he plans to make the first Nigerian, Academy Award winning film…shhhh, you didn’t hear that from me!!!

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© 2013 – 2017, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.

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