Legendary filmmaker, Tunde Kelani believes that Kunle Afolayan’s new movie production, ‘The CEO’ will be a game-changer for the whole of African cinema. In this chat with E24-7 MAGAZINE’S EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BIODUN KUPOLUYI, he shares his thoughts on what he feels about the movie and Kunle’s talent. Excerpts…
One of your protégées, Kunle Afolayan, has unveiled the cast, crew and sponsors of his next movie, The CEO, how do you feel about this?
I think what Kunle has done is revolutionary in the sense that he has re-drawn the geography of African cinema, because in reality, Africa was divided geographically through colonialism and they put a border to separate us, but this film has destroyed the barrier and brought together all of Africa in one creative endeavour. We knew that it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen, but I never imagined that it will happen so quickly, and I am happy to see it happen.
For someone like Kunle that has always been around you, can you recall the very day he walked into your office and both of you embraced each other?
The way I discovered Kunle was long process. It didn’t happen at once; he looked really innocent at first. But if you study him, you will know he is a smart and clever person, even a gambler. I said that because all of his movies are done with risks and he always wins. In a sense, I did something similar, but I said I will start close to home. I looked at the barrier between the Anglophone and Francophone countries, and I tried to bridge that divide. In the case of Benin Republic, you can even forget the artificial border, and cross into that country while hunting. But Kunle’s own involves flying across the continent, and uniting the Arabs, the Francophone, Anglophone, South Africa, and everybody together; so this is far more exciting.
Kunle has been in several of your movies, are we possibly going to be seeing a reversal of roles, in the sense that he will one day direct your movie?
First of all, the choice of a story and how you initiate it matters; at that point, it becomes very personal. Even all Kunle Afolayan’s productions are not alike; it’s the same process but different. It’s just like Fela saying Sunny Ade should lead his band. There is no big deal about collaboration in production if we are tuned to the same subject matter. Nothing is impossible, and we don’t know the next minute; we could be collaborating again on different levels.
You are privy to the script, how do you think it will actually help to forge unity in Africa?
It will. In fact, I think Kunle had conceived that before the script was even written, so it has been taken care of. I think that with the script and his direction, he is going to achieve a lot more than that.
Are you not surprised that he is actually ‘importing’ a D.O.P for the production?
It is a necessity. If Yinka Edwards, the cinematographer he usually works with, had been around, Kunle wouldn’t have taken that decision. I know that he tried to get an experienced cinematographer that can handle the level of his project and it’s rare finding them, so he had no choice but to do that.
What is your wish for him on this project?
The best, of course. This is going to be a game-changing film in the whole of the continent.