In a remarkable first for a Nollywood film Obi Emelonye a lawyer-turned filmmaker from London premieres his low-budget, boxing-themed movie “Oxford Gardens” at the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) HQ.
Despite a cinema tradition of over 60 years and recent strides in diversity and equality, a Nollywood film has never shown at BAFTA HQ.
The eagerly anticipated European Premiere of this NAFCA multi-nominated boxing themed drama takes place Friday Sept 30th, 2016 on the eve of Nigeria’s 56th Independence celebrations on the UK’s most prestigious private screen, the Princess Anne Theatre.
In the aftermath of last season’s controversies surrounding the lack of diversity and inclusivity at both the OSCARS (#OscarsSoWhite) and BAFTA (#BaftaBlackout), is this Premiere a milestone for how far the mainstream has come to opening itself up to ethnic minorities?
A few weeks after the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival featured a bouquet of films made in Lagos, Nigeria, a boxing-themed African film makes it to the home of British cinema in a move that mirrors a growing acceptance of Nigerian cinema into global cinema culture.
“Oxford Gardens” is an inspiring love story that follows Julius (Ngoli Okafor), a broken, down-on-his-luck ex-boxer, living his life on the edge, but in desperate search of redemption. Munachi (Ngozi Thompson Igwebike) is a pretty, bubbly young girl carrying a dark secret. A chance meeting on a park bench in Oxford Gardens one summer afternoon sets in motion an unlikely friendship and an uplifting journey through their respective fears.
“Oxford Gardens” stars model turned Nollywood movie starlet Ngozi Thompson Igwebike, alongside legendary ex Golden Gloves champion, now tuned actor, Ngo Okafor. Together they deliver performances that help set “Oxford Gardens” apart in the ever evolving new Nollywood movie landscape.
Speaking on the movie’s storyline, Mr. Emelonye said. “Once in a while, a simple film comes along to shake up African cinema. ‘The Mirror Boy’ did that in 2011, and I have a feeling that ‘Oxford Gardens’ may have a similar impact. The movie explores new exciting themes and takes fight action to a whole new level for Nollywood. I am really excited about this film and I am grateful for the huge support I received from Africa Magic in making it happen. Boxing films over the years have been very successful globally and they stir potent emotions in audiences. Wrap that up within a heartfelt love story and it takes a real champion to hold back the tears by the time the final bell rings.”
Obi Emelonye has teamed up for a second time with Africa Magic Original Films, the movie studio arm of Africa Magic (Africa’s No.1 television network), to release the film.