Hollywood? C’est ringard! (as the French would say): totally has-been. Bollywood? Even worse.
The new frontier of the cinema production, ladies and gentlemen, is nowadays NOLLYWOOD. You don’t know where Nollywood is? Neither did Zazie until last week, when I was invited by my friend Claude Baechtold to see the movie Hunting Diamond Jo at the Swiss Cultural Centre in Paris.
Claude, who is a photographer with a strong passion for cinema, few months ago has received the most wonderful 40’s birthday gift ever by a group of friends: 10.000 euros to film and produce a movie. Where? In Nollywood, of course, where the N means Nigeria, Africa. The only place on earth where, with a very modest amount of money, you can film en entire movie from Monday to Friday, edit it on Saturday and have the DVD ready on Sunday.
Claude and three other friends, a collective called Le Cowboy Noir, went to Lagos and in just 10 days were able to find the cast and to create their first feature-film, based on a screenplay wrote before going to Africa but re-adjust to the filming conditions while in Lagos. The product of these efforts is the brilliant and hilarious movie Hunting Diamond Jo.
Diamond Jo is a young guy from the slums who is in love with the beautiful Adeola, coming from a completely different background. In the desperate attempt to reach the status of his lover’s wealthy family (also composed by a mum devout to Gandhi and 5 incredible Nail Salon Gang sisters), Diamond Jo stole a bag full of diamonds from the dangerous and mysterious Mister Claude. The man orders to his body guards to pursue the young thief and to get back the diamonds, but it won’t be easy. Will Diamond Jo and Adeola be able to fulfill their love dream? Well, have a seat and see...
Hunting Diamond Jo is a little jewel of 55 minutes.
With a fresh and irresistible style half-way between Tarantino and Godard, Le Cowboy Noir managed to film a super funny and very sweet story that captures the audience since the very beginning. Maybe it is because of the unusual set, maybe because the characters are so funny and unpredictable, but I basically didn’t stop laughing and being surprised by the sequence of scenes: from the lesbian kung-fu fighter sister of Adeola, to the cockeyed dialogues between the other sisters at the beauty salon (“I went out with this guy, he wasn’t bad but he was so boring, he talked for 2 hours about Majakovskij!”), to the metaphysical conversation between a rickshaw driver and the two Red China delivery boys, everything is just hilarious.
I really adore movies made with no money: I do believe they oblige people's talent to be exposed in full light. Hunting Diamond Jo is no exception: under the patina of funny bricoleurs, you can catch a glimpse of very good film-makers.
It was really interesting, after the movie projection, to hear Claude and his friends talking about their incredible experience of filming in Lagos, from the casting to the trafic problems, everything was an awful big adventure that they are eager to repeat.
Cinema is everywhere you look in this world, even in places you have never thought or dreamt about, and it is so refreshing to think that - maybe - the poorer the better...
When you have talent, even a slum could look like a royal palace.