Soyinka’s ‘Ake’ makes debut at Cannes Film Festival

Soyinka’s ‘Ake’ makes debut at Cannes Film Festival

Friday, April 8, 2016 4:43 pm

A cameraman films a scene from a crane during the making of "Ake" , a film based on the childhood memoirs of Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, in Abeokuta, southwest Nigeria July 14, 2013. Nigeria's movie business, often known as Nollywood, is one of the biggest in the world. Most films are produced in local languages - Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo among them - while many others are made in English. Nollywood also has a growing audience among Africans living abroad, keen for a taste of home, whether watched in south London hairdressers or rented from Texas video stores. Nigeria shot its first film, "Palaver" (Trouble), in 1904. Picture taken July 14, 2013. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 13 OF 21 FOR PACKAGE "NOLLYWOOD - INSIDE NIGERIA'S FILM INDUSTRY" TO FIND ALL IMAGES SEARCH "AKINTUNDE NOLLYWOOD" - RTR3IBVH

A cameraman films a scene from a crane during the making of “Ake,” a film based on the childhood memoirs of Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, in Abeokuta, 

A film adaptation of Prof. Wole Soyinka’s international award winning autobiographical novel, “Ake: The Years of Childhood” is billed to premiere at Cannes Film Festival in France.

Mr Dapo Adeniyi, the Executive Producer of the film made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.

According to him, the film which has been translated into French will be premiered at the Festival International du Film pan African de Cannes from April 16 to April 20.

“This film festival holding in the city of Cannes focuses on African works.

“Since the film is an adaptation of the world famous book “Ake”, one of the books that earned Soyinka the Nobel Prize in 1986, we decided to showcase it at the world stage.

“It is a scintillating film adaptation of one of the most captivating childhood reminiscences of all time.

“To make sure that people understand and appreciate the story in France, we have to do the French translation.”

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Adeniyi described the adapted book as an epic that was very significant in Nigeria’s history and must be immortalised for reminiscence, especially for the younger generation.

He narrated that “Aké: The Years of Childhood” is a memoir by Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka, that was first published in 1981.

“It tells the story of Soyinka’s boyhood before and during World War II in a Yoruba village in western Nigeria called Aké, where the author spent the first 12 years of his life.

“Ake is set in the years just before World War II; the author himself was born in 1934.

“It combines a beautiful child-view narrative technique with direct echoes from the war as heard or imagined down in Ake, Abeokuta.

“The story ends with Egba women’s riot of 1945, a major historic event in Nigeria.”

According to Adeniyi, the memoir film shows the young Wole at age two, six and 11 years respectively.

He noted that the film had a cast of about 1,000 persons, which includes some veteran Nigerian artistes.

“Mrs Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett features as one of the outspoken Egba women in the famous Egba women riots of 1945, while Yinka Davies, the musical icon, features as Mrs Funmilayo Ransome Kuti.

“Lanike Onimisi, and Gbenga Ajiboye are Mr and Mrs. Soyinka (Wole’s parents), respectively, and Toyin Abiodun, the writer and actor is Rev I.O. Ransome Kuti.

“A big discovery is Chief Festus Onigbinde, the former national Technical Director and Head Coach of the Super Eagles, who features in the film as Rev. J.J. Ransome-Kuti, father of I.O. Kuti,’’ he added.

He said that the film also features other casts like British Council Director, Alex Bratt and diplomats from the British Consulate and French schools.

Adeniyi explained that the project was to revive people’s interest in history and literature.

“It is a spectacle not only for our time but for generations to come.

“One of our goals is to send the readers of Ake back to the book, and we hope we will really succeed in doing that.

“It is our hope that Ake would revive our interest in pristine architecture and other monuments,’’ he said.

Adeniyi, however, noted that the most challenging part of the work had been to get costumes and artistes that could act scenes to depict the theme of the film which centred around events between 1935 to 1945.

He also told NAN that the Lagos State Government and corporate organisations would provide support to ensure success of the project.

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