Friday, July 3, 2015

The Celebration of Francis Oladele, the Father of Nigerian Film Industry

The iREP International Documentary Film Forum on Friday July 3, 2015, celebrated the great Nigerian filmmaker Francis Adetunji Oladele, the Father of the Nigerian film industry who passed away on June 22, 2015.

Francis Oladele was famous for making the film "Bullfrog in the Sun", the adaptation of Chinua Achebe's all time classic novel "Things Fall Apart" in 1971, featuring Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya of Toro, Uganda, directed by great German filmmaker Jason Pohland and his first film "Kongi's Harvest", 1970 was the adaptation of Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka's play of the same title. These films and others were done by his CALPENNY Nigeria Limited, the first indigenous film production company in Nigeria he founded in 1965 after returning from the United States of America where he studied photography at the New York Institute of Photography. CALPENNY was an acronym of California, Pennsylvania and New York.

When Francis Oladele got Princess Elizabeth of Toro to play a leading role in "Bullfrog in the Sun", she was already world famous as one of the most beautiful women in the world; one of the first three African women to be admitted to Cambridge University and the first to be admitted to the English Bar Association; the first black woman to have a spread in Vogue in the June 1969 edition in a four-page spread, and in November of 1969, she made history as the first black model to be on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

Elizabeth of Toro in a scene from "Bullfrog in the Sun".
Scenes from "Bullfrog in the Sun".
Photo Credits: Getty Images

 The event was held at the Kongi's Harvest Hall of Freedom Park on Lagos Island, Lagos. Accomplished filmmaker Tunde Kelani with the famous multiple award winning editor and documentary filmmaker Adegboyega Arulogun came to pay tribute to Francis Oladele. The organizers Femi Odugbemi, Jahman Anikulapo and Makin Soyinka with their iREP team coordinated the special event.. The filmmaker's son Lanre Oladele and other members of the family were also present. But no representatives came from Nollywood and Kannnywood..The loudest Igbo,Yoruba and Hausa actors, actresses, producers, directors and marketers were not there This clearly shows how ignorant and disconnected they are from the foundation of the Nigerian film industry and I know that majority of them don't even know the accomplishments of Francis Oladele who was the first Nigerian filmmaker to bring Hollywood filmmakers like the famous Ossie Davis who directed "Kongi’s Harvest" in 1970 and others to Nigeria.

Adegboyega Arulogun speaking in honour of Francis Oladele. 
Tunde Kelani, Femi Odugbemi and members of iREP.
 Femi Odugbemi speaking. 
Femi Odugbemi with Mrs. Iyabo Aboaba, the COO of Freedom Park and also National President of the Nigerian chapter of International Facility Management Association (IFMA).
 Members of Francis Oladele's family.
Some of the guests at the event.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, Publisher/Editor of NOLLYWOOD MIRROR® Series.

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