Oloibiri (2015): A Doctoral Research Screenplay
Authors: Iwowo, S.
Place of Publication: Nigeria/U.S.A
The screenplay for the feature-film, Oloibiri (2015/2016), was commissioned by Right-angle Productions, Nigeria, and Theatron Media, Canada, to address exploitative oil-explorations by multinational corporations in Nigeria’s Niger-Delta. Data for the story accrued from interviews with victims of oil-spills in the village of Oloibiri (which inspires the title), and a workshop involving some Niger-Delta stakeholders. Other data stemmed from records of martyrs of the cause - Ken Saro-Wiwa and Isaac Adaka-Boro – in addition to texts on Igbo folklore, postcolonialism, Africana womanism, and transnational cinema. These helped construct a relatively balanced narrative targeting local and international audiences, and projecting oil-spill victims, their big-brand abusers enabled by governmental neglect, as well as the resultant extremities of anti-exploitation militancy. The screenwriter’s experiences of the Niger-Delta, her ancestral homeland, was also useful to the processes.
The screenplay holds dual significance: Firstly, it was data for answering two questions of the screenwriter’s doctoral research into vestiges of simplistic filmmaking techniques of the Colonial Film Unit (CFU) still present in typical transnational (neo-) Nollywood films, rendering them unattractive to mainstream Hollywood distributors. Secondly, the producer desired the narrative style to enrich its market potentials, locally and internationally. This therefore instructed combining Igbo folklore – popular amongst diverse African audiences - with Aristotle’s three-act structure, a mainstream storytelling style of the West.
Oloibiri premiered at Cannes (2015), screened across Nigeria and in selected U.S cinemas, provoked a public apology from Nigeria’s Ex-President (Yakubu Gowon) to Niger-Deltans, won “Best Screenplay” at NAFCA , and “Best Foreign Film” at San Diego Black Film Festival (2016). The screenwriter’s reflections on Oloibiri, detailed in an interview, was published in the Journal of African Cinemas (2017).