Internationally acclaimed movie, Finding Fela made its long expected premiere at the New Afrika Shrine on Sunday, October 13, 2014, to the delight of the capacity audience.
Finding Fela tells the story of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s life, music, social importance and how he lent his powerful voice to the struggle against military oppression and misrule.
The inspiring, enthralling, and sometimes shocking movie, produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, gives a brutally honest overview of all different issues and events that shaped Fela’s life.
The story of Nigeria’s most famous musician cannot be told without including how he started smoking weed for instance, or how he married 27 women on the same day and why, the story of his many arrests and the invasion of his home by Unknown Soldiers and how they killed his mother after throwing her off the house window and even his presidential ambition. Finding Fela tells it all.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s Daniel Fayemi, who was at the Shrine for the premiere, spoke to Fela’s children, Femi and Yeni, as well as Associate Producer of the movie, Rikki Stein.
‘Finding Fela is a fantastic movie’
– FEMI KUTI
What’s your impression of this movie, Finding Fela?
I think it’s a fantastic movie and I’m happy it’s here in time for Felabration 2014.
What does this movie mean to you, as Fela’s son?
It’s good to document my father’s life and that’s what this movie is all about. It would let people know more things that they probably did not know and it’s on the big screen so that’s very good.
How was your involvement during the production of the movie?
It was good, it was interesting and it is now out for people to see what we have been cooking for years. People would enjoy the movie, I’m quite sure of that.
‘Finding Fela tells the story the way it should be told’
– YENI KUTI
What’s the concept behind Finding Fela?
It’s basically a film telling the story of Fela the way it should be told.
How long did it take to complete this movie?
It took us about two years. We started doing the interviews in 2012, so it’s about two years of work.
Now that the movie is ready and available for Nigerians to see, how does it make you feel?
I’m happy that the movie is here, I’m especially happy that it is premiering at the Shrine here in Lagos, Nigeria and I know Fela’s fans would have a good time seeing the movie. It is a must watch.
‘It’s like making some kind of magical stew’
– RIKKI STEIN
You were a close friend of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and also associate producer of Finding Fela. What can you say about the film?
I can say that fro
m the first day the idea to do this was conceived, I was thinking of this day. I knew we were going to make a good film on Fela and that it would be fitting to premiere it at the Shrine and it just so happened that we were ready at the time that Felabration is happening.
The film is describing the life of Fela, so the job of the director was to go and investigate. He finished with twelve hundred hours of footage which then had to be made into two hours. Can you imagine that? It’s like making some kind of magical stew.
Were there any challenges in the production?
Not at all, there weren’t any challenges. Now the film is made, the challenge is we want people to watch it. I mean, if you live in Lagos, you should be here at the shrine to see this but if you live elsewhere in Nigeria, the film is being released on October 17, 2014, to all the Silverbird Cinemas across the country and in Ghana as well.
What’s the difference between Fela on Broadway and Finding Fela?
Fela on Broad way was some kind of a painting that had a feel about Fela while Finding Fela is about Fela. They both tell the same story in a way since it’s still telling Fela’s story but this is more objective. There’s much of drama and humour, Fela’s life had drama and humour and I did more laughing with Fela than anything else in my life.
With your experience in handling Fela’s projects, can we exhaust Fela’s story?
When he died, people were shouting that Fela would live forever. They were right because he left an extraordinary body of work.
What was the budget to make this movie?
It’s a lot of money. I don’t want to say the figure because it frightens even me. It’s a lot more than you can imagine because Stephen, the producer, wanted to make sure Fela’s story was told properly. When I met the producer, he said ‘I consider Fela, the most important musician in the 20th century.’
– Interviews byDANIEL FAYEMI
– Pictures by DAPO ADESEKO