An interview with new CSI course instructor, Lani Akande

July 28, 2021 by Denise Ing

Lani Akande is joining the Cinema Studies Institute in Fall 2021 to teach CIN378H1F - Aspects of a National Cinema: Cinema Nigeria! We asked him to tell us a bit about himself. 

What is your background in cinema? What are your areas of specialization, and what drew you to those areas?

My background is in African Cinema. I'd always liked the idea of filmmaking, and it wasn't long before my curiosity drove me to wanting to know how audiences understand film. Being Nigerian-Canadian, I got the sense that culturally diverse audiences interacted with film differently. I thought that was interesting - so, yes, I soon found myself in Film Studies. In my first four years of undergraduate film study, I focused on film theory, film history and film criticisms.

What is your favourite film of all time? Why?

The Sound of Music (1965), because I enjoy historical narratives set around the world wars. That said, studying films has kind of ruined film watching for me a bit!

Do you think Canadian audiences are familiar with the Nigerian film industry, aka Nollywood? 

In Canada, familiarity with Nollywood has largely been confined to diasporic African communities. Lately, with increased showings at film festivals like TIFF, it has become a little more popular in Canada. That said, considering that it is the third largest cinema in the world in terms of output, it is relatively still unknown in Canada.

Has the pandemic affected film production in Nigeria? 

It affected transnationally co-produced films. European and American co-producers, for example, have frequently insisted on the suspension/delay of productions. Local, independent productions have continued unabated.

Tell us about your upcoming course.

In Cinema Nigeria!, we are repositioning ourselves to look at film in a different way. The reach and influence of mainstream cinemas like Hollywood conveniently suggest there is only one way of making, consuming and interpreting film. This class looks to further challenge this position by exposing us to Nigeria's Nollywood and its very unique character. It's an informal market system and its approach to filmmaking does not necessarily prioritize realism. We examine a cinema that 'thinks' and operates differently. In so doing, we highlight how diverse the meaning of film is.

Films that will be screened during the course include 76 (Ojukwu, 2016), King of Boys (Adetiba, 2018), and Namaste Wahala (Ahuja 2020).

A trailer for the course: