It was the humongous movie premiere. The buzz before and after last Sunday’s glam premiere of Mr. Kunle Afolayan’s latest movie The CEO could only be compared to a similar premiere of the movie which he had onboard an Airfrance flight to Paris in June
From an exquisite red carpet through a music-filled cocktail arena to a large viewing hall, the show clearly stood Afolayan, producer of critically acclaimed movies such as Irapada, The Figurine, Phone Swap and October 1, as a standard bearer and leading light in the new Nollywood renaissance.
There was a standing ovation for the cast and crew as the credit line rolled at the end of the film. The applause heightened when Afolayan took to the stage to introduce members of the cast and crew who were in attendance, including lead character Wale Ojo, Hilda Dokubo, Kemi Lala-Akindoju, Haitian actor and model, Jimmy Jean-Louis and Kenyan actor, Peter King. A leading film critic described the movie as ‘Kunle Afolayan’s film noir yet’.
An elated Afolayan thanked guest, the cast and crew, individuals and corporate bodies that supported the production of the movie which he described as an experiment that he hopes would cut across the African continent. As he puts it, “The CEO as an experiment to develop value for African cinema. It is something that I am very passionate about. This all started as a kid, and every time I see the pictures of my father and his contemporaries at film festivals.
“It became a concern as I have not seen any film from neighbouring African countries brought to Nigeria for screening. Hence there is a gap among African countries. The CEO is an experiment that I hope will do the magic. The original cast was Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and one Francophone cast. But after my trip to Egypt, it became an eye-opener after meeting with colleagues, and we had a co-production meeting’’.
Continuing, Afolayan said, “With close to 500 cinemas in South Africa, if my films could screen in 200 cinemas, it would be great, as this is what cinema distribution can do to the success of a filmmaker. If we can lock down Africa, then we do not need Hollywood.”
However, the filmmaker used the opportunity to appeal to pirates not to feast on the film as they did on his last feature film October 1.
“I borrowed N50 million from Bank of Industry to produce this film,” said Afolayan. “Please, do not pirate the film. I beg you o. I need to pay back the money. I think I have 13 months left. Please, help o”.