BARELY a month after he was unveiled as Air France’s ambassador, rave-of-the-moment filmmaker, Kunle Afolayan, on Thursday unveiled the full details of his next movie, The CEO, at a world press conference in Lagos.
The event which held at the Inagbe Grand Resorts and Leisure, a 20-minute boat ride from the Ikoyi shore, revealed a cross-African cast, meant to position the project as ‘united African cinema’, in the words of the filmmaker.
The impressive cast include Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, entertainer and activist from Benin, Angélique Kidjo; Haitan actor and model Jimmy Jean-Louis, best known for his role as The Haitan on the NBC television series Heroes; consummate actor, and founder of the New Nigeria Cinema movement, Wale Ojo; French-Ivorian actress and model, Aurelie Eliam; South African actor and presenter, Nicolaos Panagiotopoulos; Nigerian actress, Kemi Lala Akindoju; Moroccan star, Fatim Layachi; Kenyan actor Peter King, and Nigerian actress, Hilda Dokubo among others.
For the first time since he made debut with Irapada, a cross-cultural Nigerian movie, Afolayan will not be taking a lead role in his own movie. “I could play a bar tender or gate keeper role alongside Arthur Dieffenthaler,” he joked, arousing laughter across the hall.
Dieffenthaler is the Commercial Manager of Air France/KLM, sponsors of The CEO, who was at the event with representatives of co-sponsors such as DStv, Adron Homes and Properties, and the Inagbe Grand Resorts and Leisure.
Dieffenthaler reiterated the commitment of Air France to the development of arts and entertainment in Africa, connecting Nigeria to the rest of the world for almost 70 years.
Kidjo is passionate about using music and film to export the culture of Africa to the rest of the world. She noted that she took up the role, because it suits her aspiration as one who has been using music to propagate the ideals of the continent. “This is exactly what Kunle is trying to do, using the medium of cinema,” she said.
Afolayan, the CEO of Golden Effects Pictures is a multi award-winning Nigerian filmmaker and son of the late Nigerian movie maestro, Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade-love) who grew up on a steady diet of the performing arts and audio-visual creativity.
A frontline actor, producer, and director, Kunle’s works have transcended the boundaries of the ordinary and is producing a fresh crop of new Nigerian cinematography that raises the bar with regards to what the world expects of the Nigerian Film Industry.
Described by The UK Guardian as “The Kubrik of Lagos”, the young Afolayan has shown great tenacity and an unrepentant refusal to fit into the usual mould of “Nollywood” filmmaking with all his works gathering acclaim and setting unprecedented commercial and box office records.
Compared with the legendary Scorsese by the New York Times, Kunle’s productions have received awards and accolades; featured and showcased variously at international film festivals across the globe like no other filmmaker in his generation.
The CEO, which has already begun shoot at the Inagbe Resorts, will also take its locations to South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Paris, and other parts of Africa, showcasing the different cultures, attires and music and in the multi-lingual movie.
Among the personalities at the event are notable filmmakers, Tunde Kelani and Tade Ogidan.
AFOLAYAN’S new movie tells the story of TransWire Communications, a global phone network with major operation in Nigeria. The CEO, an expatriate, has retired hence the Global Chairman has decided to send five nominees amongst his most senior level staff across Africa on a Leadership course in order to determine which one to appoint as the new CEO of Nigeria.
Kola Alabi: Nigerian, male, playboy, charming; along with Jomo Wangai: Kenyan, male, reserved; troubled; Eloise Toure: Ivorian, female, attractive, tenacious; Yasmin Raggi: Moroccan, female, beautiful, secretive; Riikard Van Outen: South African, white, male, unassuming, ambitious.
All five arrive from their respective destinations and check into the beach resort where the course is holding. Although they all appear cordial and chummy with each other, they all know what is at stake – they each desperately want the CEO’s chair. And to this purpose, they attempt to covertly outdo one another throughout the duration of the course.
Assisted by LISA, HR Coordinator for TransWire Global, the course Tutor, the mysterious Dr. Amet Zimmerman, starts off the course by making all five executives indulge in a round of the child’s game of musical chairs. He uses this method to psychologically study each candidate’s modus operandi.
JOMO loses the first round. Zimmerman then sets about teaching the course. But soon intrigue, conspiracy and treachery take centre stage. Jomo’S dead body is washed ashore the next morning, apparently ruled ‘death by misadventure’. This shocks everyone… and soon they see an alarming pattern emerging – something bad happens to whoever loses the round of musical chairs they play each morning!
One by one, each candidate begins to be eliminated, until there are only two left. It then turns into a psychological game of sudden death! But who is really behind the mysterious and fatal occurrences? It is obvious that someone is trying to stab everyone else in the back so as to assert themselves for the prime position… a candidate who will go to the extent of murder in order to emerge as the new CEO.