by Andy Kozlov
We mentioned earlier that some Nigerians studying here say that Ukraine is not Europe and they dream of packing up the moment they get the diploma and leave in the direction West. (See Steppes In Figures #5: Ukraine and the world) They may be right, but the situation is different when it comes to making movies, ladies and gentlemen.
Last October, the first Nollywood film was co-produced in Ukraine. The producers market it as “The first Nigerian production in Europe.” I have no way to confirm it, but quality-wise the production called Feathered Dreams does not take a back seat to your average Western production. (See We used to be glued to telenovellas: Ukrainian coproducer of a Nollywood flick thinks there is no way African films will be popular with the Post-Soviet viewer, Afriwood to participate in 2012 Ukrainian Content Market and Multi-kulti Ukraine)
Here is the trailer. So see for yourselves:
Unlike a much appraised Half of A Yellow Sun, the movie based on Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s book of the same name, Feathered Dreams does not chase the West-inspired concept of African beauty as a bleached-skin face (freelance writer Luso Mnthali complained about the latter recently). (See A Zimbabwean Tale of Two African Architects (with vintage images of Bulawayo and Harare) and The debut list “40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa”: dominated by musicians+overwhelming number has a very small social media presence+some did very little to support social causes)
Starring Nigerian celebrity Omoni Oboli and Ukrainian actor Andrei Rozhen, Feathered Dreams is authentic as the films about a Nigerian student of medicine in Ukraine get. Well, it’s the only one, for the time being..
The film’s logline reads:
Sade’s dream is becoming a singer. But her father dies, and with him dies the girl’s dream. Her mother forces her to go study medicine in Ukraine. “It is a tough place,” they say. But the family needs her to go there. If only she had somebody like her father to protect and listen to her in the foreign land..
While the producers of Feathered Dreams are certainly busy figuring out a way to obtain the most of African viewers’ attention, my advise to them is to keep it genuine as they did during the production stage of the film.
The authenticity of the portrayal, in fact, resulted in something totally unexpected for the guy playing the main male character. Andrei Rozhen (who is also the director of the film and traveled to Nigeria twice to familiarize his crew with the basics of a Nollywood production) now faced troubles with his phone. The device recently began to turn red because of the influx of calls from Nigerian lady fans. “They are calling me all the way from Nigeria,” he stresses as we walk along Ukraine’s major street in Kyiv, the Eastern European country’s capital, and sip on kvass, a traditional fermented drink. Andrei wears a silver tank top and spots a Maya-themed tattoo on his right hand. With his goatee, and relaxed-walking in flip-flops, Feathered Dreams’ main guy looks ultimately cool.
Andy Kozlov is the founder of Steppes in Sync, an initiative to connect international creative talent for sustainable development. Andy consults the Feathered Dreams team on ways to enter African film markets. You can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org. “But if you are a lady in search of Mr Rozhen’s phone number, please don’t bother, ” Andy implores. “This is the only thing I, intentionally, do not know about Feathered Dreams.”