About a month ago, Heart FM, my radio station of choice while driving, was doing a competition. Nothing unusual about that as they always seem to have one competition or the other going at any one time. I can’t quite recall exactly what it was that the contestants had to do but the winning prize was tickets for two to a top hollywood movie premiere in the West End. The presenter of the programme promised that the winners would get to walk the red carpet along with the celebrities.
I usually imagine winning fantastic prizes on competition which I never actually enter and fantasize about what I’d do with my winnings, whether they be cash, holidays or cars. However, on this occasion,I didn’t actually covet this particular prize. I’d only ever seen clips of premieres on TV and they didn’t strike me as something I’d enjoy.
On one hand, you have the celebrities walking down the red carpet sporting the latest creation of some designer or the other, hundreds of camera flashes going off as the paparazzi strain to capture the photograph of the year and members of the press conducting interviews with the more popular celebrities. On the other hand, you have the teeming masses standing outside the cordoned off red carpet area, screaming and yelling at the passing celebrities, demanding autographs and hand shakes. They are shoved back every now and again by burly security officers as they push against the barriers trying to catch a glimpse or touch of their favourite star. This is sometimes made even worse by the weather but those faithful fans usually turn up en masse come snow, rain or sleet. I’m also doubtful that any non-celebrity actually gets to walk the red carpet. Or maybe they do. Long after the celebrities and paparazzi are gone!
The above scene would be my idea of hell on earth. The very thought of that number of people pushing and shoving me about gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’m not so desperate to occupy the same breathing space as the celebrities that I’m willing to sacrifice my personal space and creature comforts (warmth).
However a few weeks ago, I was presented with the opportunity to attend a movie premiere in Leicester Square and I began to seriously consider the offer. It was for a Nollywood movie, The Mirror Boy starring one of my favourite actresses, Genevieve Nnaji. It also featured Osita Iheme, aka Pawpaw, one half of the ‘Aki na Ukwa’ duo, Edward Kagutuzi and Fatima Jabbe. I had never heard of either of the latter two but seeing Genevieve was the clincher for me.
Those who watch or have watched Nollywood movies would agree that apart from a negligible minority compared with the uncountable number of Nollywood movies there are, the overall quality of the industry leaves a lot to be desired. So I was expecting a lot more from this movie seeing as it was premiering in the West End. I had also seen a trailer for the movie and it piqued my interest.
We had to buy tickets from the website. There were four different types of tickets on sale;
- Tickets – limited unreserved seating
- VIP Tickets – limited reserved seating
- VIP Tickets – reserved seating and after party, including Exclusive 7pm VIP Reception Access
- VIP after party tickets
The information on the website said the doors would open at 8.00pm and we needed to be seated for an 8.45pm start after which no one would be allowed in the theatre.
I went with Mo Cushla, his sister and her husband. We ran a bit late and arrived Leicester Square just after 8pm. When we arrived at The Empire, there was a teeming mass of people queuing. Well it wasn’t really a queue but I can’t think how else to describe hundreds of people crammed into the entrance, on the stairs and spilling out on the side-walk in front of the building. We weren’t sure what exactly was going on so we spoke to some security staff. They said all of these people were waiting to gain entry into the theatre. So we waited and waited some more. After a while, our party got lucky and some kindly member of staff took us in through a back entrance.
When we got in, the theatre was already packed with just a few seats left in the reserved VIP area for which we had purchased tickets. We managed to find seats about three rows from the screen which meant we were looking up at the screen. The seats had goody bags on them. They contained a bottle of water, some marketing leaflets from some of the movie’s sponsors, a glossy magazine with all the movie blurb.
We sat for a while then we heard applause from the back as the stars of the movie walked in. People rushed forward with their cameras taking pictures of Genevieve, Edward and Fatima. Eventually the compère announced over and over again for people to return to their seats so the movie could start. It took a while but they soon all returned to their seats.
The compère introduced the director and producer, Obi Emelonye and Patrick Campbell, who said a few words. The cast was introduced and they also got to talk to the audience. The movie finally started about 9.15pm.
I won’t tell you about the film in detail so I don’t spoil it for you just in case you would like to see it for yourself but I will share my thoughts. The overall film quality was excellent and unlike the scratchy and sometimes fuzzy picture you get from a lot of Nollywood movies. The setting (in London and Banjul) was fantastic and truly reflective of the story. I felt the storyline was really good but not as well executed as it could have been. There was some great comic moments even though it was a serious movie. The dialogue moved along well in some parts, yet in others, was a bit stilted.
As usual Genevieve delivered a great performance but some of her co-stars were a bit wooden and unnatural in their acting.I think she is a very good actress, one of Nollywood’s finest, in my humble opinion and I really like her. Unfortunately due to the structure of the industry, or lack thereof, Genevieve doesn’t receive as much credit as she is due or doesn’t always get cast with equally talented actors.
My first experience at a movie premiere was just ok. I enjoyed an evening out with Mo Cushla and got to watch a nice movie however I was a bit let down as I had hoped for more from the movie.
Would I recommend you see the movie? Definitely! It wasn’t what I expected but it did make for good viewing. So please support the industry and see it if you get a chance. Would I go to another premiere? Hmm! Let’s just say I wouldn’t completely rule the idea out.
Thanks for reading and tara for now.