Thursday, May 30, 2013

Silima Ofe Returns With Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema

Silima Ofe Returns With Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema

"Silima Ofe" is the Yoruba label for free cinema and was very popular in Lagos and other parts of western Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s and they were as popular as the commercial movie theatre cinemas in town. Silima Ofe often showed TV commercial on the big screen with public enlightenment clips and then climaxing with western cowboy thrillers and other movies. Then Silima Ofe disappeared around the late 1980s. The following is a vivid description of Silima Ofe as recalled by N. Frank Ukadike in his well researched study on “Anglophone African media” from Jump Cut, no. 36, May 1991, pp. 74-80 copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1991, 2006, posted on

The operation begins with the mobile cinema van arriving in the village during the day, announcing through amplified loudspeakers the arrival of Silima Ofe (free cinema), scheduled for that evening. The venue is usually an open field — either a school compound or community ground. When potential customers pack the space, products are advertised (via oral announcements) followed by a film. Halfway through (or at times more than once depending on the length of the film) the film is stopped to enable the merchants to sell their goods to the audience. For most villagers Silima Ofe provided great entertainment and often their first opportunity to watch a moving image on screen.
Since the disappearance of Silima Ofe, outdoor mobile cinemas have been used by Christian missions for their evangelical crusades in both urban and rural areas showing biblical movies to the public and many of the movie theatres were converted to churches until Silverbird Cinemas, Genesis Deluxe Cinemas and recently Film House Cinemas came to town to revive the movie theatre culture and have been attracting thousands of movie lovers.  And Silima Ofe is returning with the new Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema Project launching on Saturday June 22, 2013, at the Freedom Park on Broad Street, Lagos. The launching is sponsored by the Bank of Industry and supported by the Projection Foundation, Goethe-Institut in Nigeria, DVWORX Studios, International Digital Post Network Limited and other partners.

Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema is a nationwide project of Screen Outdoor Open Air Cinema and their mission is to bring cinemas to the masses for mass literacy and empowerment; using infotainment for the benefit of every conducive and receptive community in Nigeria. It will be a popular vehicle using audio visual communication for general public enlightenment and entertainment in most communities in Nigeria where there is no electricity to watch TV.

Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema will also be used for the promotion of democracy and governance, but will not be used for partisan politics to avoid being hijacked by competing politicians in Nigeria.

 Like the Mobile Cinema in East Africa and other parts of the world, Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema is an audio-visual fusion of art, culture and technology to screen educational messages together with international and local films and will also be a distribution vehicle for Nollywood movies, because every venue will also be a sales outlet for Nollywood movies and contribute to the growth of the Nigerian film industry. Only movies approved and authorized by the National Film & Video Censors Board will be accepted for screening.

Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema also comes with immense economic benefits, because the nationwide project will create over 4, 000 direct jobs at the 774 locations with one branch in every local government area in Nigeria.  Each Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema has a management staff 2 audio-visual technicians or projectionists, 2 ticket vendors and 1 bookkeeper.  And every venue of Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema is also an avenue for revenue generation for food vendors selling snacks and soft drinks to the audience from the community. And every venue is a NO ALCOHOL AND NO SMOKING zone.

See the website of Screen Outdoor Open Air Cinema for more details and bookings.

 ~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, Founder/Festival Director of the annual Eko International Film Festival, Founder/CEO of Screen Outdoor Open Air Cinema, a member of the Projection Foundation and Publisher/Editor of NOLLYWOOD MIRROR®, Nigerians Report and other publications.


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