TalkFILM: Film Africa 2018 with Director Daniel Oriahi on his film “Sylvia”

.”…..filmmaking is a serious and even harder venture in my immediate environment. The fact film for me is the best way to express and impact life, especially my community as we still struggle to define our collective identity and future path”. Daniel Oriahi…………………..
Spellbinding #Nollywood comes to Film Africa 2018 with Daniel Oriahi’s “Sylvia” (2018), the psychological thriller stars Chris Attoh as Richard Okezie who decides it is time to leave Sylvia played by Zainab Balogun, his lifelong imaginary friend and lover for Gbemi who is a real woman, but it gets complicated when Sylvia starts to ruin his life. Written by screenwriter Vanessa Kanu who dives into the “supernatural” questioning the existence of “spiritual spouses”.  This is a movie about love, obsession and betrayal. A strong script, cast and cinematography bring the film together. Sylvia (UK premiere) screens on Sat Nov 3rd at BFI   Southbank  as part of Film Africa 2018.
Runtime: 130 minutes. The movie is produced by the Lagos based Trino Studio. Alt A caught up with Oriahi ahead of  Film Africa which opens this Friday 2nd Nov.
  • What made you decide to become a filmmaker? After the success of “Taxi Driver”, I’d hoped to go back to telling the kind of genres I felt most comfortable expressing and Sylvia was one of such stories that appealed to my sensibilities as a filmmaker raised in Southern Nigeria.
  • Why were you interested in this story?  I still remember some mysterious tales from my younger days of people having vivid dreams and encounters with beings from another dimension who they claimed they slept with. The excitement of hearing those tales always left me imagining movies bordering on the supernatural and science fiction.
  • Tell us about Richard Okezie the character appears to have had a mental breakdown, in Africa mental health is sometimes viewed as taboo? Actually from an African context a lot of people would not perceive Richard as having a mental breakdown but rather a spiritual reckoning of some sort. A lot of our physical ordeals are perceived from a spiritual angle. However Richard is a tragic stereotype who ironically engineers his own destruction by rejecting the love of a supernatural being for a physical woman.
  • What was the budget for Sylvia as I remember you talking about making Taxi Driver: Oko Ashewo on a very small budget? Sylvia had a substantial budget compared to a lot of Nigerian movies. It was produced by a budding film company called Trino Studios. Sylvia was their first venture into feature films and I was approached to direct it based on their admiration for “Taxi Driver”.
  • When we think about stories coming out of Africa whether fiction or documentary what do you deem important? The societal reality of our postcolonial present. Our collective and individual quest for identity and an ideological stance. Modern Africa is getting to rediscover its past and understand its present in order to define its future.
  • What is the film industry like in Nigeria now does the government encourage the industry? Nollywood is an expression of the Nigerian identity in its basic form. Nollywood has been a window into the mind set and style of the domesticated Nigerian dealing with her daily challenges. Over the years the government has tried to make sense of the Nollywood phenomenon and trying to find ways to support its growth.
  • Do you see yourself as a Nollywood director and what do you think has been the important changes to the industry in the last 10 years and what needs to change? Yes I see myself as a Nollywood filmmaker because  Nigerian films have been generally termed as such. You have to understand that the term Nollywood means different things to people. However for me if Nollywood films have been the best visual medium to convey the Nigerian experience to a film audience so far, then yes, I am a Nollywood filmmaker. In the last 10 years we have seen an influx of film graduates coming to hone their craft in Nollywood which has had a tremendous effect in the industry generally.
  • How long did the film take to make and where was it filmed in Nigeria? We spent over 5 months in pre-production, a month of principal photography and 8 months in post. Sylvia was shot in #Nigeria, #Lagos and #Abeokuta.
  • What were the challenges if any to the filmmaking process? Sylvia was well funded hence wasn’t a challenge to make.
  • Each time you make a movie what do you take away from the experience? The fact that filmmaking is a serious and even harder venture in my immediate environment. The fact film for me is the best way to express and impact life, especially my community as we still struggle to define our collective identity and future path.
Book tickets for Sylvia and to view the full programme click here
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