Filmmaker and organizer of the Abuja International Film Festival, Fidelis Duker, has spoken on popular cross dresser, Idris Okuneye, aka Bobrisky being featured in Nigerian films.
Clarifying his position in a chat with Sunday Scoop, Duker said, “We should not glamourise such things. We have children who are growing. As a father, these are not the kinds of things I want my children to learn. It is alien to our culture. I don’t see any reason why a man would dress like a woman. Some people defend him and say he is only ‘acting’, but as for me, it’s not appropriate.
“For those who have featured him (Bobrisky) in their movies, they are only exploiting his popularity, especially on social media. They are not using him because he is a fantastic actor. It’s not good enough that we celebrate mediocrity. There are a lot of cases of rape and other vices now, and it is because of things like this. We need to understand that our moral values are very important to us. I expect that the movie industry should be a platform where morals, values and ethics should be the focal points. Unfortunately, what you find in most of the films is that they celebrate immorality.”
The Not My Will producer also insisted that all actors should undergo training. He added, “To be an actor, you have to be a professional. It’s either you’re trained or you learn on the job. If you are trained, you must have gone to school to study Theatre Arts, or you learn under an experienced actor or producer. In the days of Baba Sala and Hubert Ogunde, they had apprentices who learnt under them, and went on to do well. Even if you study Theatre Arts in the university, you still have to go into the world to practice what you learnt.”
Duker also maintained that film festivals contributed immensely to the development of the movie industry. “Film festivals make a lot of contributions to any industry. Film festivals expose the tourism potentials of wherever they’re held. People need to understand that film festivals go beyond just coming to see movies. It’s also a platform to network, do business and for capacity building. In the last nine years of organising the Abuja International Film Festival, we’ve had several training programmes in cinematography, directing, acting, and other areas. This year, we plan to have a workshop for film critics. Over the years, we have trained more than 10,000 people. The festival is also a platform for people to garner experience.
Stating some of the challenges faced in organising the festival, Duker said, “It has majorly been about funds. But even with that, we have been able to surmount those obstacles. We try as much as possible to put the festival on the front burner. Most African countries, except a few like Burkina Faso which runs the oldest film festival in Africa, don’t understand these things. In North Africa, they understand film festivals because they are close to Europe. But when you come to West Africa, you find that most of the festivals are suffering due to lack of funds. We need to get long-term funding, so we don’t have to go about cap in hand begging for money every year.