Nigeria’s movie industry was left startled with the recent Sugar Rush Ban and its recall to the cinemas a week after by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). But then, there are some concerns as to why the unfortunate development played out the way it did.
Though the ban on Sugar Rush has been lifted, there are many anxieties as to the real reason why the Nigerian movie (which was already approved to air in the cinemas) was barred in the first place and the implications for the country’s promising Nollywood industry.
The Sugar Rush movie, a satirical film which reflects Nigeria’s anti-graft war sees three sisters who found $800,000 (N288 million) in the house of a corrupt politician, try to save themselves and their mother after losing the money. They team up with questionable allies to race against the clock to return it to its owner who will stop at nothing to get back his stolen stash of cash.
Produced by Jade Osiberu and directed by Kayode Kasum, the Sugar Rush movie bares some of the Nigeria’s societal flaws often associated with public officials and in so doing, used the name of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – and that seemed to be the offence that the movie makers made leading to its ban.
Although the Sugar Rush ban lasted for a week before being reinstated, the NFVCB had said in reaction to the decision to bar the movie from the cinemas, that it was in no way an intention to stifle creativity.
The Executive Director of the NFVCB Adedayo Thomas explained that the temporary approval given for the movie exhibition expired before a permanent approval could be issued.
“The movie has not just significantly increased box office #revenues within a short period but has improved our cinematic culture which are sinequanon for attracting the #investment we so much desire as a nation.
“I, however, take responsibility for the gap in communication and the delay in granting final approval as the temporary approval given for the movie exhibition expired before we could release an official statement due to my preoccupation with extant responsibilities and backlog of movies requiring approval as a result of the December rush.
Since the movie had an instant hit at the cinemas airing on December 25, 2019, the film ban garnered varied comments on social media (especially Twitter where it trended )
The issue had become a trending topic on Twitter, as Nigerians clamoured for the return of the movie in cinemas with hashtag #BringSugarRushback.
In reaction to the lifting of the ban via Instagram, the movie producer on January 16, 2020, thanked everyone who reached out during the ban and also the NFVCB for helping get the movie back in the cinema.
“We got such an outpouring of love in the last week, I couldn’t respond to all the calls and messages but your kind words and prayers were very encouraging ❤️❤️❤️Thank you soo much everyone. Thanks in particular to @alhadedayothomas and the @nfvcb for helping to get us back on the big screen and for the unwavering support of the industry,” she wrote on her Instagram.
According to PM News, the crux of the issue is that inside sources claim that the Sugar Rush movie portrayed the EFCC in bad lights which was not good for the agency’s image and in extension, that of the government of the day (President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration) whose mantra is the anti-graft war.
However, in the world over, filmmakers decide whether to use pseudonyms or the actual names of people, businesses, government institutions, security organizations, etc., to depict true-life stories, investigations and even unravel official secrets so as to correct societal ills and teach lessons of sorts to build the society.
In Hollywood for instance, moviemakers use the names of their security agencies such as the FBI, CIA, Internal Affairs, SWAT and lots more to tell their narratives. In most cases, they use these movies to uncover classified information of some shady dealings of security agencies and the decisions of these government organizations themselves, thus enabling these secrets to get into the public domain.
Asides from telling a people’s history, culture and values, authors of literary works also use their art to critic and mirror a people’s way of life as individuals, groups and institutions. In so doing, engender nation-building and grow its movie sector and other businesses dependent on it.
We at AMH condemn in totality, the decision of the NFCB to ban the sugar rush movie in the first place. And considering the numerous government forces that they may have had to contend with, we praise the efforts of the NFCB all the same for reinstating the movie back to the cinemas within a short period.
We look forward to more movies like Sugar Rush in the near future, movies that will help us get better as a people, as a nation and that will help grow our budding film industry.