Femi Odugbemi, a Nigerian filmmaker, says the recent honour bestowed on him to be an Oscar judge is not personal but rather a challenge to Nollywood.
The ‘Bariga Boys’ director and producer was named among the four Nigerians invited into the voting membership of the Oscar awards, also known as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“It’s about our industry. It’s a window for us,” he told TheCable Lifestyle.
“We’ve talked forever about how much those spaces appear to be closed to us. Now there is diversity. Now the doors are opening.
“The response now is for us to create works that are culturally defining, to tap into our own heritage and our history to find those larger than life characters that can create stories that the world would appreciate and to do it at such technical excellence that competes and gets nominated.”
Odugbemi said with the inclusion of Nigerians, Nollywood no longer has the excuse of there being “discrimination” in the Academy or that the Oscars is a “white only” affair.
“So for me, it’s nothing personal at all. It’s a challenge to our industry,” he told TheCable Lifestyle.
“And that challenge is that if we commit ourselves to excellence, if we commit ourselves to best practices and global standards, who knows, a Nigerian film should be winning the Oscars.
“We’re making enough films to at least have one. We really do have excellent people, excellent talents. Some of our films that you have seen in the AMVCA definitely can compete.
“The challenge for us is to systematise our excellence. To create a factory line that ensures that every single year Nigeria is big enough, strong enough in global affairs to constantly have a film in the line-up.
“It’s a delightful personal honour but at the end of the day what’s the point of being an Oscar judge if I never see a Nigerian film on the list. Of what use?”
The other Nigerians included are Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Wunmi Mosaku, a film producer, and Ngozi Onwurah, a director.