In the late 2000’s marked the rise of the Third Wave of Nigerian filmmakers. They were dissatisfied with the formulaic religiosity suffused camp that had come to define the Second Wave of Nollywood otherwise known as the Nollywood of ’51 Iweka Road’ and were agitating for opportunities to tell more realistic, nuanced stories. They couldn’t have come forward at a better time. Nigeria was in the middle of an oil boom and there was money to divert into what would have been called ‘frivolous’ activities in the 90’s. Grants and funds were started and ‘New Nollywood’ officially became a thing.
More than a decade later, only a handful of films from New Nollywood have really become cultural landmarks, transcending their origin stories to become universally accepted depictions of the Nigerian experience. But the bulk of the films New Nollywood produced were riddled with the tropes and failings of the generation before them. Stereotypical depictions of women being subjected to the cult of marriage and nonsensical comedies that flash in the first few weeks of release and fade into obscurity rule the box office, big fish wading in an infinitesimally small pond. This is why Imoh Umoren’s new film, “Children Of Mud” stands out so starkly.
Umoren who has been working in Nollywood for the past few years, calls “Children of Mud”, his fourth film, a deeply personal project. And it shows. Even from the first trailer, released over the weekend, it is obvious that there is no scene, no set, no line spoken that hasn’t been carefully scrutinized, and eventually delivered with the utmost love.
The trailer teases a tapestry woven so tightly, it becomes a surprisingly accurate mosaic of life outside the manufactured bustle of Nigeria’s major cities. Imoh Umoren unspools through the themes of foster parenting in Nigeria, abuse, neglect, street subcultures, the treatment of people with disabilities, religious fanaticism and the near obsessive devotion with which marriage is discussed and performed in Nigeria, told with the kind of emotional intelligence that is often lacking in New Nollywood’s big budget productions.
It is also a love letter to Abeokuta, its red roofs and granite hills, trapping the town and its people in a time all but forgotten elsewhere. It is refreshing to see aerial shots of a place other than 1004 Estates and the Lekkoyi bridge and Imoh Umoren shoots Abeokuta so lovingly, you are tempted to hop on the next train to see the town yourself.
It is refreshing to be genuinely excited for a Nollywood film, I’ll be first in line when Children of Mud finally hits the cinemas.
P.S: Nativemag Tribe alum Brum3h kills it “Muddy Child’ an original song written for the album. We’ll be on the look out for that too.
Watch the trailer here.