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With its screening of Jide Olanrewaju’s documentary NAIJ, the New Nigerian Cinema (NNC) commenced its Open Air Screenings at Freedom Park on Sunday, June 17. Shot in 2007, the documentary reveals previously known and unknown facts about Nigeria’s history before and after independence.

NAIJ: A documentary on the History of Nigeria

Still from the ‘NAIJ’ documentary’s opening montage

So far, the film has only been seen in discreet circles at home and abroad. Olanrewaju’s film boasts footage of the deals and deeds that have shaped events in the Nigerian polity from independence till date. After watching NAIJ, many will come away with a different opinion about most of their national heroes from what they had at the start of the film.

The New Nigerian Cinema’s Open Air Screenings kicks off as a quarterly event but it will hopefully become more regular, evolving into screening a wide range of films including “film vignettes, education films, black and white movies as well as commercials made to focus and entertain.” According to a press release announcing the initiative, the establishment of a locally-based NNC-themed festival will eventually grow out of the screenings.

The idea behind the initiative is to provide interested Nigerians free access to a valuable cinematic experience outside the usually exclusive environment and expensive fees required at movie theatres.

Actor and director Wale Ojo, who has become popular on British and Nigerian screens since starring in Meet the Adebanjos and Phone Swap established the movement in 2009.  The NNC’s major objective is to improve filmmaking in Nigeria and bring it to a globally-competitive level with other film industries.

NAIJ, was also the first film screened at the first edition of the annual New Nigerian Cinema Day, which has taken place every year since 2010 at the London-based British Film Institute. Commenting further on the chosen film, the statement said, the film takes “a rare look at the events that shaped the destiny of this nation. One could say it is an in-depth look at the developing psyche of a country that seems inalienably tied to the discourse of tragic events.”

The movement is not just about cinema that will entertain, but as its label implies, there will be a revolutionary tilt to the screenings. This much is suggested in the press statement, “the visual medium that is film is a very powerful tool. It can help to create a better society as well as foster and develop a revolutionary spirit inclined towards societal change. Or on the other hand it could just simply act as a means of removing stress from our lives and providing an effective stimulant to our brains. Whatever people gain from the NNC screenings the hope would be that the experience of open air cinema would have a lasting and enduring effect.”

The screenings will be followed by an interactive forum where issues in and surrounding the exhibited films will be up for debate.

The NNC’s Open Air Screening joins existing film screening forums organised by the likes of The Life House, Goethe Institut and iREP, towards improving Nigerians’ consciousness via the visual medium.

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