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Telling The Oloibiri Story

Posted: May 2, 2015 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The movie Oloibiri is yet to be premiered anywhere but selected journalists were invited for a screening recently. The screening held at the Ozone Cinema in Yaba, Lagos. From the list of attendees, one could tell that this movie is a serious one. There was no razzmatazz, wild paparazzi nor trending celebrities. Instead, there were the likes of Kunle Bamtefa, Tade Ogidan, Rogers Ofime, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett. There was a feeling amongst the audience that they were about to see something different.

RMD on set

RMD on set

Something different they got. The movie is titled Oloibiri and was named after an ancient oil producing town in Bayelsa State. The movie started with a montage of people carrying coffins weeping and wailing. Their despair was never explained but it set the tone for the underlying message of the story. On the whole it is a story of neglect of a people who at one time were the source of income for the whole country.

The film is more also about the main character, Gun Powder (Richard Mofe-Damijo) as it is of Oloibiri town. Gun Powder is a Robin Hood type individual who kills anyone who he believes has impoverished his people. Any money he is able to get, he shares with Oloibiri community and his men. He has a no tolerance for the law and expatriates who tries to take advantage of his ‘people’s’ resources. He is in contempt of other militants who make money off the same thing he does but pocket the money for themselves. He hates to be referred as ‘the same’ as other militants. In fact just in the beginning of the film, he executed a fellow militant, for being greedy.

Gun Powder had been successful through-out his outlaw career and enjoyed some sort or cult leader figure from his community. Though most times, their support for him is out of fear and terror. Things however took a turn when an American firm decided to exploit oil in the area. Mr Powell (William Moses) was sent to the area to head the operations. Unlike others, Powell is an upright man, but was unfortunately caught in Gun Powder’s web of destruction. Old Timipire (Olu Jacobs) and Chisom (Ivie Okujaye) were also caught in the web. But in the end justice prevailed, but only for Gun Powder, Oloibiri remains helpless.

Oloibiri is an action thriller that will keep audience on their toes. There is no much suspense in the movie, in fact you can predict where it will end, but the movie is held together by great dialogues. One of such dialogues which can be described as epic was when Old Timipre confronted Gun Powder while trying to hide Mr Powell. The two actors were intense and one could almost feel the aura of both characters. You could feel the anger and sheer dislike from Gun powder, while Old Timipre, bravely exudes defiance and pity of somewhat since his generation was somehow to blame for the situation Gun Powder found himself.

Oloibiri is credited as the point of crude oil discovery in Nigeria in 1956. The film speaks the central theme: Government pacification of a long abused people. It highlights the tragic journey of Oloibiri into developmental retrogression, the socio-cultural under-runs which birth militancy, and the governmental intervention to compensate their land.

Asides from the message, the movie which is produced by Rogers Ofime, is technically correct. Every part of the movie was well captured. The cinematography deserves commendation. It was directed by American director, Curtis Graham. It is a good collaboration between Nollywood and Hollywood. There were many parts of the film that were shot in the US. And the ones shot in Nigeria had many American cast members including the Sound manager.

Speaking after the screening, many of the cast express pride in being a part of the movie. They also spoke about lack of comfort on set and many of them had to leave their comfort zones in order to give a good performance. RMD said, “Roger know how to con you to do what you won’t ever think you will do, but at the end I am glad I did. There was a part I was drenched in crude oil, that was intense. It took me three days to wash everything all off. All my chains and wristwatches became corroded. But it was a good experience for me.”

Other actors in the movie are, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett (Ibiere) and Ifeanyi Williams (Boname). The producers also revealed that most of the extra employed are indigenes of Oloibiri. It is probably going to be one of the best movies to come out of Nigeria. It also has the potential to beat other movies coming out this year. It will definitely have a field day at awards next year.  It is already queued for the Cannes Festival for next month.