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Monday, 13 July 2009


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Kannywood and beyond

By Akintayo Abodunrin
July 10, 2009 12:16PMT

Leading northern Nigeria filmmaker, Sani Muazu, is president of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN). He discusses developments within the industry and on his productions.

Filmmakers in Kano have started to register with the Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim- led Censors Board with which they fought a war of attrition for the most part of 2008.

“It is true that more than half of the filmmakers in Kano State have registered with [Abubakar] Rabo’s Censors Board, but more out of fear than a belief in what it stands for. The Board cannot really define what it wants other than it is fighting what it refers to as ‘badala’ in Hausa. Its definition of that word can be reduced to pornographic films in Kano.

We, the filmmakers, have argued that none of our members had ever produced such. We are not morally bankrupt to attempt to swim in such murky waters, but the man insists most of the films made prior to his posting to the Board are ‘badala’ films.

He capitalised on the general rejection of singing and dancing the Indian way, in some Hausa films, to justify his claims. But we were the first to agree that we must stop making films with those kinds of songs,” says Sani Muazu, a major producer of Hausa movies.

He continues: “In essence, both the filmmakers and the Board were singing the same song, yet he insists he has a formula for a clean film. To understand what he wants, and so as not to keep stakeholders in Kano out of work for too long, we okayed those that wanted to register with the Board to give him a chance to show us the way.

We now know that he is only interested in collecting the registration fees from filmmakers as nothing has changed in the content and quality of the works approved by that man yet.”

‘Damaged Merchandise’

Muazu’s newest film, ‘Haaja-Damaged Merchandise’ centres on Vesico-Vaginal Fistulae (VVF), a health condition rampant among girls forced into early marriages in the North.

“‘HAAJA-Damaged Merchandise’ is a feature movie that highlighted the VVF issue as never before. There were attempts to bring VVF to the front burner in the past, but never was it attempted at such magnitude and scope by the people that know it most.

This is a movie you finish watching with a grim expression on your face and a plenty-to-chew countenance. I am yet to see a viewer that clapped after a preview despite its promises and a happy ending.

It didn’t scratch the surface like the rest. It exposes the socio-cultural contradictions of our society where we end up doing harm, while trying to do some good. It also not only shows, in a creative way, the VVF issue as a national one adding to maternal mortality, but also proffers solutions out of it.”

Mrs. Yar’Adua and I

Does going to show the movie at Aso Rock for Mrs Turai Yar’Adua not indicatethat he is trying to romance government?

“VVF is a maternal issue that requires policy makers at the highest level to intervene and move to action. Who else is better placed to watch it first than Mrs. Turai Yar’Adua, in company with the wives of other governors?

What is wrong with romancing the government to bring change anyway? But to put the records straight, the movie was supported by the United Nations Population Fund that arranged the premiere for the first lady.”

Indian influence in Hausa movies

The producer of ‘Hafsah’, a movie which reportedly sold about 85,000 copies, apart from box office returns, is concerned about the Indian influences in Hausa movies. He discloses what he is doing about it.

“I am not happy with it and our Association is using training and retraining as the panacea to make it fizzle away. Do you know that once upon a time, even Hollywood struggled to find its footings?

"It is actually better to dance like an Indian than to promote cultism, don’t you think? All these are definitions of our teething beginnings that are bound to fizzle away once the boys are separated from the men.”

No wood tag

Muazu, who began his film career in Nollywood before crossing over to Kannywood, attempts a comparison between the two.

“Ordinarily, I will reject all the ...wood tags you mention, but I kind of see them as necessary for cultural symbolism. I am a part of the growth of the Nigerian film industry, no matter what tag they decide to give it.

"The white journalist that coined Nollywood and called us so, did it to show how we are not Hollywood but today, most of us are happy with that tag. Kannywood is another tag that some say, shows Hausa movies as second-rated.

"I always argue that if Tafawa Balewa and Sardauna of Sokoto never played second fiddle in national politics, Hausa films must rise to the occasion and rub shoulders in terms of creative and technical quality in Nigeria and beyond.

“I do not see points of divergence between Nollywood and Kannywood as they are an integral part of a whole. After all, when UNESCO used statistics to qualify us as the second largest film industry in the world (in terms of numbers), the organisation took into cognisance the multicultural nature of the kinds of films we make, especially the use of different local languages.
"I make films in the language of film, pictures, be they in Hausa or English or even Yoruba or Igbo.”


A vastly experienced filmmaker, Mu’azu was the executive producer for the British Council’s ‘Reel Dialogue’ project. His other notable productions include ‘Agumba’ and ‘Eg’igwe’. He produced ‘Chapters of Our Life’ and ‘Tambaree-The Beats of Pain’. He worked closely with the late Matt Dadzie on ‘Riddles and Hopes’ and ‘Change’.

His ‘Mountain Blues’ won the Best Feature Film in 2007 at the Abuja International Film Festival while ‘Hafsah’ won three nominations at AMAA. The movie also earned him the best Hausa Film Producer/Director at the UK based Africa Film Awards.

‘Mr Johnson’

Muazu was on the set of Bruce Beresford’s ‘Mr Johnson’ – and recalls the experience of working with the late Hubert Ogunde, Femi Fatoba and other greats.

“It was a great pleasure to have worked with all these great people on the set of ‘Mr Johnson’. I still remember Pa Ogunde being flown from his sick bed in the UK to the set of the movie to play his last role on earth.

"I saw him struggle in the pains of ill health to deliver his lines convincingly. I was among the Nigerian and other international crew members that applauded with pride that day. He died a few days after that.

“I remember Femi Fatoba, who is a good actor. I also got to know the likes of Tunde Kelani and a host of other talented Nigerians on that set. But above all, I am glad to have worked with one of the worlds’ greats, Bruce Beresford.

"I have never met a more composed, focused, down-to-earth and easy going film director in my life. No airs at all. Imagine, he got the Oscar that year as the Best Film Director for his movie, ‘Driving Miss Daisy’, but here he was working with us without raising a shoulder.”

Naturally, Muazu took some lessons away from the production. “The technical crew of ‘Mr Johnson’ was the best in the world then. I worked directly under the tutelage of Rosemary Burrows whom we fondly called Frox. There is no way you can work with those people and be the same again, never.

"That production changed me beyond anything I can imagine. You know, you don’t learn film in the classroom, you learn on locations, sets. My youthful exuberance as a filmmaker was tamed for the man in me to take over after ‘Mr Johnson.’”

Film Development Centre

Muazu has been agitating for the Nigerian Film Resource Development Centre project for a long time. “It is only in Nigeria where film is developing at an alarming pace without the necessary structure with corresponding investment to nurture and give it a sense of direction.

"Our antecedent is unlike that of Hollywood where the major studios played that role from inception. We are also not like Bollywood. If an investor is interested in film in Nigeria, where will he go to?
"The NFC in Jos, a local bank or the Censors Board? Where will the banks access facts and figures about the industry in Nigeria, from the fragmented Guilds and Associations?

"We really need at least three film resource centres to be situated in Lagos, Enugu and Kano. These centres must be manned by the practitioners themselves where issues such as the development of production villages and film support resources, training, technology and professional matters can be harnessed.”

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Nigeria Film Resource Centre

This is a presentation made by Sani Mu'azu on behalf of MOPPAN to the WORLD BANK towards the establishment of

The Nigeria Film Resource
Development Centres


Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Enugu



Sani Mu’azu
Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association
Of Nigeria


Nigeria is being recognised internationally as an important filmmaker providing film titles in numbers albeit on video format and the importance of this emerging film industry in the country cannot be underscored.

Today, Nigerian films account for more than half of Africa’s motion picture output. Indeed, Nigeria is rated the largest producers of film titles in the world after India’s Bollywood and America’s Hollywood. Likewise, the industry is estimated as one of the highest employers of labour in the country, employing well over 200, 000 graduates, skilled and semi-skilled labour. This must have, in no small measure, impacted positively on poverty reduction among Nigerians. Besides, this industry which the world acknowledges as Nollywood has opened up investment opportunities in areas such as production, marketing, distribution and exhibition of films.

All these, as part of the success story of the Nigerian motion picture industry, have been made possible by the unwavering commitment of private entrepreneurs who took the plunge with the home video technology and ingeniously turned it into a thriving industry. This phenomenon has grown into a visible and remarkable element of popular culture, projected the abundance of untapped human resources in the art and business and has made the prospects for growth more viable today than ever before. Despite all these activities and investments, the industry remained unstructured and loosely regulated.

It is in recognition of these positive strides, the potential of becoming a strategic tool for development and the expanding huge markets for video movies that we are proposing the establishment of The Nigeria Film resource development centre in order for it to contribute more positively to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP and become a major player in Africa’s growth and economy.

Examples from other known film cultures show that the benefits of an organized film industry are enormous than what obtains in an unstructured environment. The absence of a Film Centre owned and operated by stakeholders, thus robs the Nigeria of the opportunity to maximise the potentials which the film industry holds as a promise for the realization of both individual and the corporate goals.

We have witnessed the taking over of our movie space by charlatans who throw professionalism and ethics to the dogs. Standards, both in techniques and values are being compromised.

Consequently, MOPPAN as a major stakeholder, along with other professional Associations and Guilds in Nigeria, recognise the dire need for the establishment of The Nigeria Film Resource centre with Head office in Abuja and structures in Kano, Lagos and Enugu.


The lack of integration and cohesion within the film industry has no doubt created distortions and dysfunction, giving rise to varying levels of concerns being expressed by stakeholders. With a changing economy, technology and policy environment, there is prevalence of poor production quality, dearth of requisite skills for enhanced capacity building, near-absence of an efficient, proactive and profit-oriented distribution and marketing structure, and the non-alignment of the industry to the larger industrial sub-sector of a globalised economy - all of which have led to its limited contribution to national re-orientation and international image building.

Whereas there is visible growth, the above indices are part of the several factors that have inhibited the development of the motion picture industry in Nigeria and to a large extent, the African continent. The new paradigm of production and distribution which the video movies have come to represent has not been fully exploited to attract the requisite investment into the industry due to the absence of a structure. The financial sector, as intermediaries in the economy, has been identified as a worthy partner in the journey towards the commercial viability of this initiative, and is equally looking forward to an institutional structure which would be responsible for facilitating the attainment of greater productivity and excellence in the industry.

We observed that for our motion picture industry to thrive therefore, creativity, improved skill acquisition, modern technology, continuous training and exposure, benchmarking and setting higher standards, intellectual property rights protection, recognition/reward for excellence, and marketing and distribution must be given their pride of place. Every well-developed and viable film industry across the world has put one form of structure or the other in place, to stimulate its growth and development.

In the same vein, for a business that began almost by accident, was sustained by expediency, and has not benefited from the support of either the political establishment or the orthodox financial institutions, what the country needs at this point of our development is for the motion picture industry to be properly guided and nurtured to grow.

The tremendous impact of Nigerian and other local films on the minds of African, influencing their ways of thinking, their habits of perception, their attitude to the world, work, family and neighbours has nonetheless helped to shape the implications for African development in recent times. This has also invariably dictated the direction of their authority over our values and our lives, as a counter-force against the influence of foreign values and imported cultures which threaten the survival of a truly indigenous motion picture industry.

The visual medium of film no doubt is one of the strongest media of cultural expression. African films in particular and Nigerian motion picture industry in general, today desperately needs to put a stamp on quality and standard in story interpretation, picture/visual, sound, and content as a whole. The revolution of quality productions, using local talents and other resources will not only project our culture but also position Nigeria properly on the global map of filmmaking.


Towards the Establishment of The Nigeria Film Resource Development Centre
MOPPAN noted that Nigeria is one of the few filmmaking nations in the world without a Film Centre.

MOPPAN also found that all over the world, the significance of the film industry as an engine of growth is becoming increasingly recognised. Although Nigeria had maintained a film office from its colonial days, it is only recently did the Nigerian government realised that it needs to get involved in structuring the industry through the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria MOPICON, being coordinated by the Nigerian Film Corporation as well as evolving an organised film distribution framework by the National Film and Video Censors Board. Happily, the World Bank is now coming on board as well. Before now, the industry is left in the hands of the private sector, who are the more visible players in the home video revolution. An independent centre giving these governmental efforts direction will only continue to strengthen effort at local and international image management and economic and socio-political progression by the government. The industry has not only become a national institution, but also an authentic economic sector, with the potential of becoming one of the greatest contributors to national wealth.

The imperative, therefore, of bridging the gaps in manpower development, capacity building, production, marketing, distribution and exhibition - with professionalism at its heart – formed one of the cornerstones of the proposed Nigeria film centre aimed at harnessing the potentials of the film medium for the achievement of national development objectives.

The Present State of the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry
MOPPAN noted that the evolution of the Nigerian motion picture industry must be considered side by side with the economic potential, not only locally but also beyond our shores. Over the last few years or so of indigenous film production, the film medium has grown to become the major conveyor of African culture, arts and tourism potentials to the outside world. The cinema and video culture has manifested enormous capacity to create wealth, driven by the private sector.

MOPPAN also observed that the industry has virtually been left to exist on its own, a development which deviates from what obtains in the more organised film cultures mentioned above. Though some effort has been made in the past to give the industry a form of direction for economic and other benefits, the reality is that much more still needs to be done in the following areas:
(i) Infrastructure and facilities;
(ii) Production;
(iii) Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing;
(iv) Training and capacity building;
(v) Funding and financing;
(vi) Legal Environment.

a. Infrastructure and Production Facilities

MOPPAN noted that very few state-of-the-art equipment exist as part of the production facilities in the industry. The cinema infrastructure among others, such as equipment and theatres have equally been abandoned to decay or converted to warehouses, banks, shopping malls and venues for religious worship, etc. The new phenomenon of the home video production therefore does not enjoy the communal conviviality which was the order of the day in the cinema era. In the same vein, production, distribution and exhibition facilities in the film industry are virtually non-existent.

Note must however be taken of the effort of private sector investors who are already financing a few standard film exhibition centres across some major cities of the country in an attempt to revive the film exhibition and cinema going culture. There are also a chain of video rental outlets and viewing centres in the urban centres and in some rural areas of the country, operating on the fringe. Most of these structures and facilities are nonetheless expected to be beneficiaries of the Film Centre.

The Centre, to be administered by Professional Guilds and Associations, will in its policy thrust seek to collaborate with the World Bank, the Government and other motion picture equipment and film stock manufacturers from different parts of the world for the establishment of factories or sales offices in the country, with adequate discount or waiver incentives to attract their participation.

b. Production
MOPPAN observes that Nigeria is unarguably one of the highest producers of film titles in the world, with over two thousand video movies per annum. In its view, the establishment of the Centre would give Guilds and Associations the capacity to address the problems of technical and content quality, format, standards, professionalism, aesthetic appeal and of course, finance are some of the challenges facing the industry today.

Film production encompasses several processes of transforming a story or subject matter from idea to a finished product. With the establishment of the Centre’s Film Village and Sound Stage, it is hoped that the above stated problems about motion picture production would be mitigated to the barest minimum. It is worthy of note that the Nigeria Film Institute under the NFC is building a Sound Stage presently for students of Film. It will only be logical that such facilities are available in the industry so that upon graduation, they will find the facilities ready at the workplaces.

c. Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing
MOPPAN observes the absence of effective structure and efficient and organised distribution network in Nigeria.

The Centres Film distribution, Exhibition and Marketing Office will work with the NFVCB to facilitate an enabling environment to encourage public-private partnership to enhance an organised and efficient distribution and marketing network.

d. Training and Capacity Building

MOPPAN notes that it has become imperative for practitioners to possess a certain basic qualification that is recognised and acceptable by all stakeholders nationwide to bridge the yawning gap created by dearth of requisite skills in the industry.

Without training and capacity building therefore, it is difficult to maintain standards and ensure the regular supply of the needed manpower to feed the development needs of the industry.

The Centre will establish a Film Resource Academy. It will also work with the Government-owned National Film Institute in Jos and other training institutions like the Nigerian Universities and initiatives by stakeholders by encouraging them to function adequately and provide the service(s) needed in this sub-sector.

e. Funding and Financing
Modern filmmaking is business, big business. It is pertinent to note that all films, whether funded by corporations or individuals incur expenses in anticipation of expected returns. MOPPAN observes the absence of institutional funding, grants and endowment which has hampered the delivery power of the Nigerian filmmaker. The Nigeria Film Corporation had proposed the establishment of a Government Film Fund, though it is yet to get it started. There is a room for several sources of Funds for Film growth in any particular country.

The Centre will establish a Nigeria Film Resource Development Fund for the motion picture industry.

f. Legal Environment
MOPPAN observed that the Government has been making relevant and necessary efforts towards creating an enabling and enduring legal environment to stimulate the desired growth and development in the industry like the establishment of Motion Picture Council of Nigeria.

The Centre will establish a Film legal office that will interact with MOPICON, when established, working with international legal conventions and frameworks for film development and intellectual property protection. The Film Legal Office will work to encourage the Government not relent in its reforms until the motion picture industry is firmly put on a sound footing of focussed growth and development.

From the foregoing, THE WORLD BANK along with Professional Guilds and Associations will establish a film hub with head office in Abuja and Production Centres in Lagos, Enugu and Kano comprising of the following arms;
1. The Film Resource Facility Centre;
2. The Film Production Village and Sound Stage;
3. The Film Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing Office;
4. The Film Resource Academy;
5. The Film Resource Development Fund, and
6. The Film Legal Office

5 YEARS 2009 TO 2014
This facility will be an independent structure and a film hub developed within a period of 5 years, 2009 to 2014 by the World Bank in Nigeria, to coordinate professional practice in the motion picture industry. The Centre, when fully established would seek to intervene through these offices for growth and development in all aspects of motion picture production in Nigeria for the African continent.

Sani Mu’azu
Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association
of Nigeria
+234 (0)8037038940

Friday, 8 May 2009

Sani in Manchester

Sani in Scotland

Sani in Paris

Sani in London

HAAJA-Damaged Merchandise (A New Feature Film by Sani Mu'azu)

Haaja-Damaged Merchandise

A Sani Mu'azu Film











Haaja is an engaging story that captures the cultural richness, vibrancy and sense of order in the typical Hausa society and treats the subject of VVF in a dramatic, yet realistic manner, showing deep sensitivity to the cultural and religious norms of the people.

Nafisatu and Saude, each 13 years old, are very close friends in a part of Northern Nigeria where early marriage is a common cultural practice. Girls are married off at a tender age as a means to protect the society from promiscuity and uphold morality. A girl married off before she gets worldly-wise has no chance of bringing shame on her family or community. Unfortunately it has become obvious that nowadays such marriages end up in disaster and severe physical and mental agony, especially for the girls.


Innocently, Nafisa is very happy that she is about to enter the highly romanticised institution of marriage. Little does she know that she is a bargaining chip. Her father, Gambo Mahauchi, 60, a small-time butcher is heavily indebted to Sarkin Fawa, the Chief Butcher of the locality, and is unable to pay back, with the possible consequences of going to jail. However, since Nafisa has caught the attention of the sixty-five-year-old Sarkin Fawa, they enter into a convenient arrangement.

Saude’s mother, Hajiya Altine, is alarmed when she hears about the marriage plan. She explains to the girls the dangers of VVF and the great agony and pain it causes.

Her advocacy however lands her in a police cell where she is treated quite roughly. Rather than give up, Hajiya Altine goes further to obtain a court injunction to try to stop the marriage, but this brings her face-to-face with traditional authority, which she dares not disobey.

When all seems hopeless, it is Hajiya Altine’s heart-rending encounter with VVF that shines the light for Gambo Mahauci, brings out the father in him and gives him the courage to confront Sarkin Fawa. This, coupled with recent developments in the Hakimi’s household, brings about a change of attitude that wipes the smug smile from Sarkin Fawa’s face and rescues Nafisa from imminent emotional and physical torture.

Monday, 16 February 2009



Gentlemen of the Press,

It gives me a great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment to welcome you to another training program on Cinematography and Lighting technique for Directors of photography (DOP’s), this time around in Kano Nigeria. This workshop is timely and unique because it comes at an auspicious moment, a redefining moment when stakeholders in the Hausa Film Industry were forced to search their souls just as Governments at various levels are coming to terms with the relevance of the industry to socio-cultural development. It is also a time when talks about professionalizing the practice of film both as an art and science is on the front burner of discourse at both national and local levels.

This workshop is the sixth in a consistent professional collaboration between MOPPAN and the French Embassy which started in 2004 when a premier workshop tagged “Acting for the camera” was organized here in Kano. Other training programs in this series are; Producers/ Directors Workshop - Kano-2004, Sound for film with Fredrick Noy – Jos – 2005, Digital Film Editing – at NTA Television College Jos- 2005 and last year, a Sound Mixing Workshop at Lenscope Media Studios in Jos.

Under this collaboration between MOPPAN and the French Embassy, more than one hundred Hausa Filmmakers benefited with high level training provided by experts mainly from France like Mr Fredrick Noy, Mr Vincent Hazard and now Mr Forrest as well as several local resource persons. We are therefore very grateful on this, as we pledge a total commitment to continue to work with the French Embassy and other development partners to develop the film industry.

This is also a solid platform upon which to announce to you all a renewed commitment between MOPPAN and Kano Censors Board borne out of a common understanding and concern for the state of the Film industry here in Kano for the last two years or so. This concern had resulted in a myriad of litigations and unnecessary legal battles that are derailing us from fundamental issues affecting the growth of Film. We had dissipated so much energy and resources disagreeing on the basic definition of a method best suited to sanitize our industry. Intra wrangling negates purpose and redirect energies to the wrong direction. Instead of working to complement each other, friends on a common journey turned to foes. Understanding is replaced with mutual suspicion and total disregard to constituted authority. This must not be allowed to continue.

Luckily, we had always agreed that the industry is in dire need of intervention and sanity in the following areas; Professional conduct, training and retraining, utility of standard facilities, a focused and purposeful film culture, positive cultural exposition and proper positioning of film as a change tool for societal growth and moral rearmament. For this high level intervention to be effective and efficient, both the Kano Censors Board and MOPPAN have clear roles to play. While the Board is created by the law and armed with enforcement apparatus, MOPPAN sets the codes of practice for different guilds and associations and benchmarks for conformity to these codes. MOPPAN is also tailored to carry the crusade beyond Kano to other parts of the country. Collaboration between these two bodies is therefore necessary to ensure purposeful growth and development of the film industry.

It is in realization of this hard fact and in abeyance to our responsibilities to our different stakeholders that we allowed reason to prevail. Last week at the Federal High Court in Kano, MOPPAN lawyers announced our good intentions to discontinue all cases pending in different court rooms against the Kano Censors Board and give room to start working in harmony, together as we should, for the benefit of all.

Collaboration between these two agencies, Kano Censors Board – a governmental organization and Motion picture practitioners Association of Nigeria MOPPAN, a nongovernmental organization can be the opening of new vistas and a beginning of being relevant in our common bid to use film production to make our society better. We believe also the collaboration will redefine Hausa films from a collection of bad remakes of Indian films to a cultural base for setting the agenda for an Islamic Hausa society. Hausa films when properly done will make a veritable display showcase through which Hausa culture will be better seen and appreciated the world over. We have argued in the past that Film or Motion picture is a very powerful medium, but whatever is not understood cannot be controlled and whatever cannot be controlled will be more of a source of danger than a source of power. We are therefore hopeful that the Board and MOPPAN will work out a new code of practice for the Hausa film industry that will reaffirm a mutually agreed belief that entertainment for the sake of entertainment is a luxury that a Muslim society cannot afford. As an industry, and in agreement with the larger society, our collaboration will try to determine strategic and tactical social goals that we want to use our stories to achieve. This is a redefining moment for the Hausa film industry.
Finally, we wish to draw a reference with the French Embassy in Nigeria and its consistency in working with MOPPAN for this several years, to show that our collaboration with the Board will succeed too for a long time to come. After all, we serve the same society, aim for the same ideals and will worry the same if our values are threatened.
We thank you for being here.

Sani Mu’azu
National President