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Rejoice Abutsa: Some Film Lovers Live Outside Lagos! Please Give Us Proper Cinemas in Jos

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dreamstime_m_367890“I desperately want us to own a proper cinema structure, where popcorns are actually sold and we can watch new films as they come…here in Jos”. I once told a friend.

The unfunny reply I got was “go build one, and stock it with a lot of popcorn, we would patronise you.” I had forgotten that in Nigeria, when you don’t agree with the way things are done, the easiest suggestion is for you to do it yourself.

I love this quote, “if you can’t find it, make it.” Right now, I cannot make it, so I would plead once more, we need a proper cinema structure in Jos. We love movies too and it may shock you to know that we love movies as much as the other states that enjoy a proper cinematic experience. I mean, Jos has the best weather in the whole world, and you can take that from a girl that has never been elsewhere but Jos.

We don’t lack a cinema in Jos. That’s why I insist on “proper”. I have been told to stop calling what we have here a cinema, instead, I should say a viewing centre, but I insist on calling it a cinema while we wait for a “proper cinema” structure. There are two film cinemas in the city of Jos; while one containing less than twenty seats, delights in screening Indian films first and screening Nollywood films at least more than a month when it has been released, the second finds pleasure in football games more than it finds in films.

Most of my classmates (film students) did not know about the existence of a cinema here. I only found out while trying to gather information for my final year project. I understand what a shame it is. Four years in the university as a film student! No, five, thanks to ASUU. And I didn’t know of a cinema, well shame on me. The way the cinema here function does not offer any experience. It is a timetable, they tell you which day to come and what time they would be open, you pay and you don’t enjoy the Popcorn because they couldn’t get Popcorn in the market. Yea right! Just buy your popcorn from home if you really love films that much.

My final year thesis was on film piracy, the best part of the research process was that I narrowed my research to the pirate activities in Jos market and the findings are unbelievable, well they are believable just that we think that these things happen only in Lagos. Instead of having a 45 paged undergraduate thesis, I ended up with eighty pages of frightening information. One of them is that, Jos residents love films so much. They only problem with the love is, if they are not getting the films as they come, they would take a bootleg copy and this bootleg copies are sent in by those that know we don’t have a proper film cinema. While film producers are in Lagos being happy that their films are not being pirated, they just don’t know what is going on here.

The problem with our film industry is that it is treated like a “Lagos Only Business” when there is a lot of money to gain from other states, there is a lot of ground-breaking records to make by expanding focus and giving attention to other states. We would love to have a grand premiere here too. Most films I watch share the same location. Let’s travel and shoot in other places. Let’s explore Nigeria. I have a special love for Izu Ojukwu’s film because anytime I watch a new release it offers a special visual experience, he explores Nigeria with every new release and it is beautiful to see film capture other places rather than the usual places we see.

I can’t help but think of what triggered my love for the arts. When I was a child, my father filled the house with only Nigerian films. I was eighteen when I watched a proper Hollywood film and that was as recent as three years ago. We did not just watch Nigerian films in my house; we had proper information on them. Most of them were made in Jos. From TV shows like Wetin Dey to parts of Ije (my all-time favourite film, if I may add) were shot in Jos. By now, we should have joined the top entertainment states, but a lot has happened here and it seems like now that I am grown and ready to join the industry, nothing is going on here.

When piracy is spoken about, it is referred to as a Lagos only problem. When you speak of piracy, speak to all of us and not just to those in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja. Piracy is freely explored here and it is important to note that films that you think are not even pirated are all over the market and vendors of pirated movies are living large, just because we don’t have a PROPER CINEMA where we can watch new films as they are released. We get them when they are old enough to be discarded from the cinema and then you start playing them here for whom to pay N1500? See the problem!

Piracy seems like a problem that is inevitable no matter how many cinema structures get provided, but we can reduce the menace of piracy. We can offer Nigeria’s economy a solution by making more money from films, and more money will not be made if we ignore some of the buoyant places that provide a lot of hope for the future of our film industry.

At the end of the day, I am not writing because I want to sit in a cinema every day. I am writing this because I believe in the industry and I believe it is time to look at more places. I see Filmhouse is doing a lot right now; it is time to look here and take back the business from pirates. This is not a terror zone and you will make as much as you have invested. We love recreational activities here, most times, we just can’t find where to. So Filmhouse cinema see you soon! I can serve the popcorn for the opening launch.

Photo Credit: Isaiahlove |

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