The Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 African International Film Festival in Lagos was presented to Nigerian film producer and actor Oludoton Baiyewa Jacobs, whose career spans five decades of work in both Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
‘Olu’ Jacobs, as he is affectionately known, was mentored by Chief Hubert Ogunde- actor, playwright, theatre manager and musician. Jacobs is also the founder of the first contemporary theatrical company in Nigeria. While living and working in the United Kingdom, he had starred in several British television series and movies, but when he returned to Nigeria in 1990 he wanted to be ‘the bridge between the old and the new breed of artists, paving the way for emerging Nigerian stars”.
His company, The Lutudo Group, was established in 1995 to train filmmakers, actors, directors, scriptwriters, photographers and media practitioners. For Jacobs, the film industry is always about more than just work; it is his life. No one in the industry was surprised, therefore, when he won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in ‘Dancing Heart’i (2007), and with his recent Lifetime Achievement Award he now belongs to a group representing the best of Nigerian talent.
A newcomer to this group of ‘Nigeria’s Finest’ is Emmanuel Iduma, a multi-talented travel writer who is featured in The Wall Street Journal ‘Review of Best Jazz Musicians In 2021’. Although Emmanuel Iduma began his creative journey by completing a Masters In Fine Arts at the New York School Of Visual Arts, when he returned to Nigeria he recognised the need for artists across the spectrum to create niche markets. After completing the photodocumentary ‘InVisible Borders; The TransAfrican Project” in 2016,Emmanuel Iduma started ‘Tender Photo’, a publication featuring the work of African photographers, and published his collection of essays and poems, ‘A Stranger’s Pose’.
Portuguese-born musician Sara Serpa, whom Emmanuel had met in New York in 2008, was so inspired by the Invisible Borders project and Emmanuel’s poems that she convinced him to co-produce her latest album Intimate Strangers. The album has been named the New York Times Best Jazz Album of 2021.
The newest breed of Nigerian musicians, vocalists, directors and producers is often in the limelight for scooping up B.E.T, Channel O and MTV awards.
D’banj ‘the Kokomaster’,( the stage name for Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo) is often the opening act for big international music stars and has recently received the MTV Europe Music Award for Best International Act. He is also the founder of Mo’Hits Records.
Joachim Emeodi, known as Joany, is a multi-talented artist who was recently signed to the R.A.K record label and is making waves in Melbourne, Australia. The self-taught pianist dropped his debut album, ‘People, Times and Emotions’ in August 2021 and gained instant visibility on MTV Africa. He is currently on the cover of Audollaz, an Australian entertainment magazine.
So why are we telling you all this ? Because Awards Ceremonies are a great place for artists to meet and network with established stars, who are often more than willing to mentor and develop the new breed of talent. However, before rushing off to the next awards ceremony in Lagos, New York, Los Angeles or Berlin, aspiring artists should know everything about the recipients of awards and their careers. One way to gain the knowledge that will help artists enter into and sustain conversations with mentors and ‘elders’ in the industry is to follow the guidelines of African Film Fixers. These professionals follow all the online and social media news, trends and stories related to Filming In Africa. They are herefore able to help aspiring artists break onto the scene- by promoting masterclasses, collaborative projects and opportunities to have their work featured in international films.
Nigerian film producers, actors and documentary photographers recognise that the industry is not all about the glamour of script-writing, acting and directing. There is a socio-economic element that is vital to growing and sustaining an industry; stars in the industry feel that they have a responsibility to create more spaces for artists to showcase their work and highlight the achievements of African artists. Film Festivals and Award Ceremonies are one platform to realise this vision.
The Best African Film Fixers capitalize on the proliferation of ‘Africa-focused’ events, ceremonies and arts festivals that have emerged on the continent in the last decade. They understand the importance of establishing friendly relationships and rapports with local film producers, artists and crews, so that all work undertaken in the industry enhances the activities and efforts of local communities.