Jade Osiberu, the writer and director of Gangs of Lagos, the controversial movie now making waves on the international movie circuit has opened up on how a mother in a state of undress, preparing dinner for her children in Isale Eko, where the film is set, inspired the movie.
Osiberu made the disclosure in an interview with Hollywood Reporter via Zoom when asked what the original inspiration for the movie was.
The award-winning film director said she was inspired to write the script for the movie 10 years ago when, while shooting a movie in the neighborhood of Isale Eko she saw through a window a mother in a state of undress, shouting at her children, which according to her provided the human angle on which not only is the movie based but has made it relatable and resonate with viewers.
“10 years ago, I was shooting in the neighborhood of Isale Eko in downtown Lagos, for a series called Gidi Up, the first thing I ever shot, and in this area, the buildings are very close together, and you can see into other people’s windows. I looked in and could see this mother preparing dinner for her children, in a state of undress and shouting at her children.
“I felt like I was looking right into a scene from their lives. It got me thinking about what it would be like to be born into this life [in the slums].
“Because right next to this poverty, surrounding it, is extreme wealth — it is right next to the big commercial and financial center of Lagos, where a lot of banks and financial institutions have their headquarters. People there can see this extreme wealth, almost touch it, but it’s not their reality.
“There is a lot of gang activity in these different slums in Lagos and a lot of gang wars as well. There’s a lot of research on it online. Over the years, I just kept on going back to this idea of telling the story of the gangs but not just from the point of view of fighting and violence but from the human angle, starting with a child thrust into this life,” Osiberu maintained.
Just as Osiberu said in that interview she did not set out to tell the story of the gangs just from the point of view of fighting and violence but to tell the story of the daily struggles of people and how they live their lives in their local setting as they try to make ends meet.
She also set out to subvert the expectations of people familiar with some certain scenes in Lagos, for instance the party scene at the end of the movie where a fight breaks out. Perhaps that explains the reason for some of the violent scenes in the movie.
“So the party scene was the hardest. But I have a history with party scenes. I love the way Nigerian parties look. I don’t like to attend them, but I love how they look. In every film that I make, I typically have a party scene. But what I try to do is subvert what you expect will happen. So here you have a typical Nigerian party and then there’s a massive shootout.
Still, ever since Gangs of Lagos, the movie which tells the story of three friends; Obalola (Tobi Bakre), Gift (Adesua Etomi-Wellington) and Ify (Chike-Ezekpeazu Osebuka), as they try to navigate their lives, growing up on the rough and bustling streets of Isale Eko, Lagos, hit the screens on 7 April it has stirred a lot of criticisms from many quarters.
The Lagos State government, while condemning it, described it as unprofessional and misleading because of the gang fights in the movie and the way it potrayed Lagos and the Eyo masquerade in a negative light.
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