Meetings with a number of top Niger Delta militants and sharing their stories of the struggles have inspired the shooting of the highly acclaimed movie ‘Black November,’ says young Nigerian filmmaker, Jeta Amata.
The filmmaker disclosed this during an interview with Isha Sesay on CNN African Voices yesterday.
According to Amata, his visits to the Niger Delta creeks and meeting with the likes of Asari Dokubo and Boyloaf among other militants gave him an inspiration to make a film out of the pitiable condition and environmental degradation in the region.
“For more than eight years, I had been so concerned and wanted to do something about the Niger Delta but every other year, the problem get escalated. After a while I had a chance to meet with the militants in the creeks and sitting down with Asari Dokubo and Boyloaf triggered my interest to shoot this film and they too were so excited about the project,” he said.
“Black November” is a drama about Nigeria’s Niger-Delta region. The film is weighing into the 50-year history of western exploitation of the region’s oil resources, local collusion and violent resistance to it. Nigeria’s Niger Delta region is the world’s third largest wetland but decades of oil drilling have turned it into one of the most oil-polluted places on earth.
The death of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nigerian writer and environmental activist, Amata told CNN, greatly affected and fueled his decision to tell a part of the story. “I got affected by Ken Saro-Wiwa’s death. I actually met him once and my dad knew him very well. Before he was killed in 1995, many people including the Commonwealth shouted and pleaded for him not to be killed but that junta went ahead and executed him with his eight other kinsmen. That killing provoked global outrage and earned us suspension from the Commonwealth.His death really touched me,” the 38-year-old director said.
Amata said he decided to title his film “Black November” after the month that Saro-Wiwa was hanged.
“What excites me about his stories is the human part. Not necessarily the politics. I know in “Black November” I touch on politics just a little bit but I’m more concerned about the feelings of his people, about what they have been through and where they are going to,” said the scion of the famous Amata theatre talents clan.
“Black November” is a highly ambitious crossover film. It is the first time Amata will work with the mix of top Hollywood and Nollywood’s talents. The film has a cast that include Mickey Rourke, Kim Bassinger, Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Enyinna Nwigwe.
It also features Mbong Amata, Jeta’s wife; his father, Zack and his uncle, Fred.
Last October, Amata screened the new film at the United Nations General Assembly in New York with those big names and supporters of the film in attendance.
“The fact that I am making a film like this and presenting it to people like you means that there is change and means there is a possibility for more change,” Amata told the guests at the screening in New York.
He further said: “My grandfather (John Ifoghale Amata) addressed the UN a long time ago. Now I address them with a film. It was so important to me. This is not just a big stride for Nigeria but for Africa as well. We are not just telling our stories, we can finance our stories. We can tell our stories. We can distribute our stories. We can tell our stories with some western actors yes, but everything with our influence,” he said.
Amata is part of the new generation of Nigerian movie-makers committed to telling African stories to a global audience.
His last major hit was “The Amazing Grace” shot in 2006 and which starred Nick Moran. It tells the story about the 18th-century British slave trader John Newton who wrote the popular hymn known around the world as “Amazing Grace.”