I recently watched the American biographical sports drama, Queen of Katwe starring Oscar-winning actress, Lupita Nyongo and Golden Globe winner, David Oyelowo. The performance of both actors and others who starred in the movie was spectacular. I was wowed by the strictly African story and setting.
The film tells the story of the constant struggles of 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) who lives with her mother (Lupita) and siblings in the slum of Katwe. Her life changed when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo). Katende, who has his own challenges, coached children in the game of chess and introduced Phiona to the game. He immediately observed her special chess talent. Katende exposed Phiona to a whole new world and experience through chess as she won competitions after competitions. Even though she later lost the Chess Olympiad in Russia, she had already placed Katwe and Uganda on the world map. Despite this disappointment, she didn’t give up on chess. She won a top Uganda chess competition and was given a heroes’ welcome on her return to Katwe.
As a typical Nigerian, I was happy that a Nigerian played the lead role in the movie. But this excitement was short lived. I was angry that Disney and the producers of the movie didn’t come to Nigeria to shoot the movie.
It was shot in Kampala, Uganda. Not even South Africa or Kenya. It’s Uganda. The only celebrity from Uganda I know is Anne Kansiime, a comedian.
My vexation stemmed from the fact that Nollywood is the second biggest film industry in the world and they churn out movies like a pig giving birth.
Nollywood is probably the only movie industry in the world that can produce a movie in a week! Haa…Nollywood!
Meanwhile, in Hollywood and even Bollywood, it may take months or years to produce one single movie. You can only imagine the investment of the producers in the Games of Thrones. This is why they are winning all the international awards.
The second biggest film industry for mouth.
Apparently, Nigeria has an array of stars and producers but I am yet to see a Nollywood movie or movies shot in Nigeria that have been globally accepted like the Queen of Katwe.
Regardless, this doesn’t take anything away from producers who are doing their best to make quality movies, including Tunde Kelani, Kunle Afolayan, and Mo Abudu among many others. They still do their best to shoot good movies despite the difficult environment. This is a major reason why international production companies don’t come to Nigeria to shoot movies.
A claim that cannot be disputed is that Nollywood has evolved over the years. But our movies are yet to attract worldwide attention. This is because, with all the Nollywood hype, Nigeria is supposed to be the first point of call for international producers. But No. Uganda even beat us to Queen of Katwe. The only content they recognise is our music.
Nollywood has a long long long way to go.
Anyways, I recommend that you watch the movie.
Written by Damilola Faustino