Our storytelling should model the future we desire, says Odugbemi

The MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy director for the West African hub and renowned international filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi, has advocated for a storytelling approach that models a future that we desire. Odugbemi made the call at a virtual session with the New York Film Academy (NYFA), where he talked about the film industry in Nigeria and how it needs to foreshadow the future by creating new heroes. The NYFA 20/20 series is a pop-up event where creative visionaries share insights on their craft, creation, and artistic vision. “I believe that foreshadowing is a critical space we must move into. Our storytelling needs to begin to model a future that we desire. We talk about our ambitions in terms of good governance, rapid development, economic progress. I think our films need to begin to create heroes along those lines because right now, we have stories that are contemporary but in many ways timid,” odugbemi explained. According to him, stakeholders in the Nigerian film industry have not done much in presenting developmental issues we have in the country in cinema in a way that models the way we would like it to be. “The truth is we haven’t presented the developmental issues we have in the country in cinema in a way that models the way we would like it to be, not just how it is. I tell my students that the idea that a black man will occupy the Oval Office in America is from the cinema. Our cinema has to begin to reach into the future, not just to talk about Nigeria going to the moon or Mars or something like that, but something that connects us to our ambitions as a people, perhaps a more prosperous, more organised, less corruption-ridden political culture. We just need heroes, we need to create those heroes through storytelling.” The MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy director also said that he is not keen on storytellers championing culture. “I want storytellers to champion human experiences, insights so that those of us who may not feel that cultural experiences are still able to be enriched by the stories that you tell.” He argued that storytelling is about humanity. “Stories are about shared experiences, ambitions, desires, regardless of what ways culture is structured and because the film is a form of connection and communication, we are able to interact and feel these different experiences,” he said.