Cinema audiences and reception
This project seeks to develop literature on the voices of cinema-going audiences in Nigeria, Ghana (two vibrant Anglophone filmmaking countries on the continent) and other African countries. Very little information exists on the history of spectatorship, audiences’ socio-economic status, viewing preferences and interpretive strategies of African film audiences. Through ethnographic and survey approaches, existing knowledge gaps will be closed with rich and layered descriptions of film spectatorship and audiences. The publications produced from the research will be useful to scholars, filmmakers, cinema operators and investors, who require more than market research surveys for creative intervention. The objectives of the study are to produce an updated history of spectatorship in Nigeria and Ghana, with an overview of contemporary spaces and media of African cinema audiences (including Internet, cinemas, Africa Magic channels etc); to examine and document the socio-economic status, audience preferences and interpretive strategies of African cinema-going audiences in an attempt to close existing knowledge gaps in film scholarship; to complement the audience work which I began in Lagos in July 2016, given that the Nigerian and Ghanaian film industries arguably share commonalities in terms of their postcolonial status, cultural production models and values. The reception of particular filmmakers is welcome.
African film and social change
The impact of films, particularly documentary films, is already being tracked and documented in South Africa. Arguably, the same can hardly be said of scholars working in the eastern and western parts of the continent. In India – where a thriving film industry also exists – social change is attributed to Partition films, for example. And in the United States, the plethora of films that depict politics and history generate huge debates on representational strategies and social change. Several of such films are used as instructional aids in formal learning environments; and the way they shape our knowledge of the world is well-documented. This project examines the social function of films – documentaries and feature-length productions. Where films are used to promote development, peace, reconciliation or conflict resolution, it is of interest to examine how that was achieved. To deal with the objective of measuring the impact of socio-political films, such films have to be strategically exposed to key stakeholders. These include those who are able to effect the desired change i.e. policy makers and researchers, relevant government agencies, social and political activists and non-governmental organisations to mention a few. Therefore, the methods of this project will include historical and contemporary perspectives of film screenings and their effects, focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews of key individuals. This will also broaden the scope of study thus yielding richer analyses of film and social change.
This study seeks to examine the motivations of celebrity crossover from entertainment to political office. It is quite common to listen to media celebrities discussing their intentions to create social impact by giving back to the society that contributed to their rise to stardom. Some celebrities believe that this contribution can be achieved by occupying a political office. However, scholars and celebrity fans have expressed reservations about celebrities’ crossover into politics because of a presumed lack of expertise in political affairs. With the huge fan base that some Nigerian celebrities have within and outside the African continent, it is quite easy to promote social causes and create impact through their social media pages without necessarily venturing into politics. And so, being conscious of their positions yet seeking political offices implies that some motivations are unclear to the public. It is therefore necessary to probe the motivations of these celebrities crossing over to hold political offices. Also worthy of scholarly attention are the pains and gains of the crossover as well as the decisions to remain politicians after a term has been served, to return to their previous art or to straddle both worlds. This project will benefit from all the methods applicable to case studies.