In time for the 50th anniversary of the film adaptation of Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, icon of postcolonial literature, more than 2000 unpublished film stills, various production papers, correspondences, as well as a film print of the production from 1970 has been found in the estate of the Berlin filmmaker Jason Pohland (1934-2014). Things Fall Apart was made in Nigeria shortly after the Biafra war and had been lost for decades. As a result, little was known about the circumstances and the creation of this film.
Executive Nigerian Producer Francis Oladele (1933-2015) established Calpenny Nigeria Films Limited – the first independent film production company in Nigeria – in 1965 with the intention of providing a platform for artistic expression in a more profound way and opening the Nigerian arts to an international audience. His debut film Kongi‘s Harvest (1970) already set standards. The film is based on a play by Wole Soyinka, who also plays the lead role. Oladele succeeded in hiring the American Ossie Davis, a close friend of Malcom X and very active in the civil rights movement, as director for this first project. Things Fall Apart, Oladele‘s second feature film, is another key part of the beginnings of Nigeria’s Pre-Nollywood movie industry. The film, made by a few international but mostly local crew members, was directed by Jason Pohland.
LagosPhoto Festival with its motto Rapid Response Restitution will present for the first time a selection of this archive findings. The photographs show Chinua Achebe on set, the 1899 in Lagos born actor Orlando Martins – Nigeria‘s first international film star – in his last role as Obierika, the Ugandan princess, lawyer and later diplomat Elizabeth of Toro, who shortly after shooting becomes Uganda’s foreign minister, John Sekka, the popular Senegalese actor in the leading role of Obi Okonkwo, or co-founder of Lagos Freedom Park Iyabo Aboaba in her role as Bisi.
Some crew members have later made great careers: the still photographer Stephen Goldblatt became a director of photography, shot Batman films and was nominated twice for an Oscar, the assistant editor Alhaji Arulogun became one of Nigeria’s pioneer broadcasters and later headed several ministries for the state government of Oyo State, Ivan Sharrock, the sound mixer, won two Oscars.
The film will be screened as part of the Festival of Forgotten Films which will run from 31/07/21-08/08/21 at the Nigerian Film Corporation, beside Voice of Nigeria, Ikoyi. For festival information, programme & lectures by Tam Fiofori and others, please visit: https: facebook.com/956332377786966/videos/857550078451014/
Berlin-based Akinbode Akinbiyi is one of the well known African photographers. His photographs of everyday life in African cities brings viewers closer to urban life in Africa and conveys an impression of its undergoing rapid change. Akinbode Akinbiyi is also an intercultural mediator through his curating work. He has curated a number of exhibitions for the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, including Spot on … DAK’ART (2009). A pan-African project he co-initiated has also made him an important mentor of young photographers from Africa.
Gisela Kayser has been the Artistic Director of Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus since 1996 and is responsible for the institution’s cultural program. In 2011, she was appointed Managing Director of Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus. For 25 years Kayser and her team have put together 10-12 exhibitions each year at the Willy-Brandt-Haus, focusing on photography and socially-engaged topics. She has also accompanied and supported several exhibition projects as a curator in various other museums and galleries. She has also been a jury member at award ceremonies of the University of the Arts Berlin several times, in 2008 nominator at the International Center of Photography New York and jury member for the Alfred Fried Photography Award in 2019.
The open-air exhibition will be experienced as a large-scale installation in the form of seventy-four printed 2 x 2m fabric tarpaulins all around the lively Tinubu square. All photographs have additional information, biographies, documents, correspondence and interviews digitally stored, which can be easily accessed with the free art app Smartify.