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What Buhari should do before Kannywood collapses – Kamal Alkali

Kamal S. Alkali is a Kannywood director and script-writer; he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kamal Films International. In an interview with Weekend…

Kamal S. Alkali is a Kannywood director and script-writer; he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kamal Films International. In an interview with Weekend Magazine, he explains why filmmakers were involved in the 2019 elections. The Kano-born filmmaker also speaks on what Buhari should do for Kannywood before it totally collapses. Excerpts:

Weekend Magazine: This year, the production of films drastically reduced with most of the artistes campaigning for politicians, what do you think was responsible for that?

Kamal S. Alkali: To be honest with you, Kannywood has been in dire condition since 2017; the film makers were only struggling to produce films without making profit in return. Meetings were scheduled to find lasting solution to the issue of marketing and circulation of films but to no avail. A lot of film makers didn’t have the capital to produce even one film, so as the 2019 elections drew near, they grabbed the opportunity. They used their popularity and campaigned for politicians. The campaign became the source of livelihood for most film makers because it wasn’t for free.

WM: How did Kannywood get into the dire situation in the first place?

Alkali: We all know Kannywood depends on CDs and DVDs to market our films but technological advancement, where you can copy a film in your phone, flash or memory card and distribute to millions of people, led to reduction in circulation of our films. We were left to fight piracy alone because the authorities involved weren’t doing anything to arrest the situation.

Afterwards, we started selling our films to three television stations and were making little profit. Two stations stopped along the line, you know there are lots of film makers. It got to a stage where there were hundreds of films but no buyers, and that crashed the price of films. We couldn’t control it, so the last TV station started selecting films, and the payment wasn’t even regular. That made a lot of producers to stop production and we don’t have cinemas in northern Nigeria. So when politics came, we all joined in order to get some money to take care of our families.

WM: There’s a rumour that the artistes only campaigned for politicians without giving them a proposal on what the industry needs?

Alkali: From the beginning, the artistes only focused on what they would get from politicians but later, we sat down and asked ourselves what would be our fate after we’ve campaigned for politicians and they win? After all, they gave us money to campaign for them so they would have paid us. After deliberating on that, we started submitting our proposals to them and a lot of politicians have promised to act on them when they come to power or win their re-election.

WM: What are some of the demands you submitted to the politicians?

Alkali: To be honest, marketing and circulation of our films are at an all-time low in Kannywood, and it seems there is no definite strategy on how to revive the marketing sector. However, we want the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to build standard cinemas in the 19 northern states. We want the federal government to give us soft loans with zero interest because, as I am talking to you, a lot of film makers don’t even have the capital to produce a single film. The cinemas can revive Kannywood and also generate revenue for government. We didn’t say government should give us free money, no, we would repay the loan, but we just need the cinemas. We want Buhari to direct relevant authorities to fight piracy to the barest minimum if not Kannywood, in no distant time, would collapse.

We also want President Buhari’s government to do it urgently; you know Kannywood has been a source of livelihood for thousands of youths. If the industry collapses, it may lead to vices like kidnapping, banditry, and insurgency.

We want bigwigs, politicians and prominent people in the country to also promote Kannywood films. Let me give you an instance. In India, there was a film called ‘Bahubali’ and India’s Prime-Minister Narendra Modi watched the film during screening before it was released. He went to his twitter handle and wrote ‘why did the lead character in the film die’? So, a lot of people felt the film was really serious for the Prime Minister to comment on it. After it was released, lots of people watched it because of Modi’s comment.

There was a time former Vice president Atiku Abubakar watched an American film and commented on it.  A lot of Nigerians watched the film as a result of his comment. So, we want important personalities in Nigeria to help promote our films, it would do the industry a lot of good.

WM: Despite the challenges of marketing and circulation, do you still have plans to continue producing films?

Alkali: Yes, I do. I have a lot of stories written in Hausa which I would translate to English because I told you we can’t just rely on one cinema in Kano, what about other cities? The best thing is to translate from Hausa language to English so that I can target cinemas across Nigeria and even beyond.

What is next for you?

Alkali: I would be in location by the end of March to start shooting my new movie titled ‘Accidental Husband’. It would feature both Kannywood and Nollywood actors like Ali Nuhu, Yakubu Mohammed, Alex Ekubo and Ini Edo.


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