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Brotherhood Premiere And Jade Osiberu’s Brave Dream
Jade Osiberu is aiming to break Nollywood's box office records with the crowdpleasing Brotherhood. Seyi writes a diary from the premiere.
Lagos will find ways to disappoint you, and Lagosians are familiar with the struggle of sitting for hours in gridlock. To beat Lagos, one must leave his house or office hours ahead of the event they are attending. This mindset compelled my early migration to the Brotherhood premiere.
A journalist or film critic should never arrive late at the cinema or film event. The journalist seeking a story knows that defining moments could be lost to him as he struggles to get to the venue. By instincts, the film critic knows that late admittance into the cinema room means losing important opening shots. So, the profession is obsessed with arriving early.
I arrived an hour late to The Jewel Aeida, where the Brotherhood premiere was hosted. Admittance and Black carpet had started — No African Time, we had been informed on the invitation card, and I expected prompt starting of the screening too. But African Time would eventually prevail.
Nollywood has been engulfed in the anxiety trailing the trailer of the Jade Osiberu-produced Brotherhood. Edited by Olakunle Martini Akande (Nneka The Pretty Serpent), the trailer monopolized the attention of Nollywood lovers by being on the loop in every film media outlet.
Brotherhood's trailer made us anxious, and the anxiety varied. For Nollywood lovers, it signaled a time to experience a film devoid of cliché storyline and casting. When the trailer and screening was revealed, Falz didn’t have a cringy accent; Basketmouth and Mr. Macaroni were distanced from their usual comic roles.
For Osiberu and other crew members of Brotherhood, it echoes the anxiety of living up to the hype; ringing the hope that it gets acceptance from Nigerians and hits box office targets. To Nigerian filmmakers, there is the anxiety to share in Osiberu's success. As a Nigerian filmmaker, her triumph is also theirs — an act of solidarity.
There was an unspoken question and concern amongst the audience at the premiere: when will the screening start? DJ SB played music that motivated body movement and inspired occasional lyrics mouthing. Acquaintances shared muffled conversation while Fearless, Trophy, and Lord's — brand sponsors of the movie — offered cocktails. Each lobby of the gorgeous The Jewel Aeida had expressive displays of radiant outfits matching (or attempting to match) the premiere dress code: Avant- Grade Ojuju. The RiQuesa—sponsored one million naira reward for best dressed must have induced the efforts taken in styling the clothes worn.
The MC called for our attention. He announced that the screening was commencing, and guests hurriedly moved into the hall to grab front-row seats.
Aside from giving a snippet of the film's genre, Brotherhood’s posters revealed one of the film’s selling points: star power. It stars Tobi Bakre, Falz, Basketmouth, Toni Tones, Zubby Michaels, Mr. Macaroni, etc. Celebrities with loyal fan bases. This reality didn't dawn upon me until a few minutes into the screening, when different scenes elicited uproar from loyal fans cheering on their star. The Asaba Nollywood-trained Zubby, in particular, was a scene stealer. The audience was excited every time he appeared — and exciting is how one will describe Brotherhood.
The audience at Cannes and Venice Film Festival is renowned for their long ovation. Pan’s Labyrinth received 22 minutes of applause at Cannes in 2006. Brotherhood’s premiere took a cue from Cannes and Venice, but unlike those famous film festivals, the appreciation wasn't reserved for the ending. Nigerians will always be Nigerians: we no get chill. Looking at the people in attendance — filmmakers, crew members, friends and families, and sponsors — one could assume that the uproar was perhaps by obligation. But Brotherhood is a genuine crowdpleaser that triumphs in directing, story, casting, performances and sound design — core elements of a movie.
However, uproar at film premieres does not translate to Box Office success. While Osiberu and her team would appreciate the frenzy, they would be more interested in cinema admittance. Brotherhood opened in cinemas nationwide on 23 September, 2022.
There are plans to ensure it succeeds. The messaging so far has brilliantly framed the film as one of a kind. Osiberu says she’s shooting for the elusive one billion naira mark at the Box Office, and her opening remark at the premiere hinged on these words: “Brotherhood is the biggest action flick from Africa.”
Her apt speech intone something else: She is a brave dreamer aiming for the seemingly unattainable. But with Brotherhood opening in over ten African countries and its star-studded cast, from Basketmouth and Tobi Bakre to Toni Tones and Mr. Macaroni, involved in the daily promotion, both online and offline, Jade's dreams should come true.
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