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Challenging Perceptions of African Cinema

CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Segilola is all smiles

THERE IS more out there on the landscape of African cinema than just Nollywood. Brand new political thriller Mona is breaking down boundaries and challenging perceptions by going beyond the restrictive labels of the aforementioned genre.

Anthony Abuah and Segilola Ogidan are the dynamic duo behind this project, who aspire to capture the imaginations of critics and fans, far and wide.

Mona is inspired by the actual June 1973 visit of then Portuguese Prime Minister, Dr Marcelo Caetano. The film is described as “a combination of political intrigue with a psychological edge in a multi-layered cinematic experience”.
Segilola Ogidan is a British-Nigerian creative visionary, who has a wealth of knowledge in script development, production and film finance. No stranger to hard work and worthwhile projects, she wrote and produced her first feature film Mum, Dad, Meet Sam (2014).

Of the origins of Mona, she says: “I have known Anthony for a while. He came to me two years ago with the screenplay, I read it and absolutely fell in love with it”.

Segilola continues: “There’s a lot that I didn’t know and it got me excited to do a bit of research into the whole story. I thought to myself that it’s important for as many people as possible to know this piece of history, so we started working together from then”.

Where her first film was a romantic comedy, Mona is on the opposite end of the spectrum in its dark and non fictional element. Was Segilola nervous about coming aboard such a project?

She says: “Getting involved in Mona, I had no doubt in my mind that Anthony was going to pull it off. You know when you have that friend that is just, in your eyes, a genius and you just know they have the ability to be great?”.

“It’s a low budget film so it was quite ambitious, however, with the team that we assembled, creatively working together saw us produce a fantastic piece of film”.

After an intense three weeks of shooting and refining the film, Ogidan is happy with the end result and keen to showcase the diversity of African cinema.

“I want people to know that there are a few good, independent filmmakers out there, who do work hard, care about the craft and the storytelling”.

“I would like it to be one of the independent classics of African cinema, especially by Africans in the diaspora. I think we have done a decent job of telling the story in terms of aesthetics, production quality and the acting is on point. It’s an Indie classic”.

Segilola has finished writing the sequel for Mum, Dad, Meet Sam and is in the process of getting it made.

Mona has been well received in 2016 playing at numerous international festivals and receiving several accolades including the Grand Nile Prize at the prestigious Luxor African Film Festival. The cast includes Marlene Abuah (Dr Who, Sugar Rush), Jonathan Hansler (currently performing in Stephen Jeffreys' The Libertine, Haymarket Theatre), David Avery (BBC's The Night Manager, Border Line) and Summer of Love singer and actor Lonyo Engele (A.D., The Bible).

The UK Premiere took place on 21 January and Mona will play at selected cinemas, accompanied by Q & A sessions, for the duration of the month.

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