Over the last few years, the Nigerian film industry has undergone some sort of revival. From blistering political crime dramas like “King Of Boys” to slithering horror remakes like “Nneka The Pretty Serpent”, richer and more diverse stories are making their way onto our screens. While we’re grateful for the new wave of success washing over the scene, subject matters covered in these films tend to skew towards an older demographic, leaving the Nigerian youth with very little, if any at all, room to directly connect with what’s been put out. If you’re a young Nigerian woman, this is a double blow, with gender biases adding an extra layer to the erasure from the film canon.
Luckily, the new crop of young Nigerian filmmakers emerging are taking matters into their own hands to create the sort of films with raw honesty and nuance that reflects their different realities. Armed with an arsenal of candor and untapped storytelling, they’re not shying away from tackling some difficult conversations that plague their generation.
“Where Is Jaz”is one of these films. Written by Lola B and directed by Tseyinmi Omatseye, Lola B and Natse Jemide this Wintar Studio production a psychedelic indie film loosely inspired by Ashton Kutcher’s cult classic “Dude, Where’s My Car?”. In “Where Is Jaz” we follow Lu, played by rising star Funmbi Toye, on her journey to find her friend Jaz at a party they agreed to attend together. Lu is slightly distressed because she can’t seem to find her friend and also can’t seem to remember if she’s even at the right party to begin with. The 11-minute film showcases a familiar party scene filled with the standard tropes that most of us can relate to from a chaotic night- the hazy coloured lights, the guy who has had too much to drink, someone opening the door in a panda suit – pretty relatable stuff.
But what makes “Where Is Jaz” particularly interesting is the subtle ways in which it tackles a pretty heavy subject matter: drugs. While we won’t give away any spoilers, the decision to not gloss over drug use was deliberate, allowing it to play a minor role in the overarching story. “There is so much to Lagos youth culture than marriage, cheating, cultism etc. Breaking news, Nigerian kids do drugs (not me though, y’all be safe), but let’s talk about it; because it’s happening” says “Where Is Jaz” screenwriter Lola B speaking to FEMME MAG, “Nigeria is the land of chaos and I plan to show it”.
View this post on Instagram
Perhaps that’s what makes “Where Is Jaz” particularly refreshing: the raw honesty. It’s not a cautionary tale on the demise of the youth, it’s simply putting up a mirror on a specific reality and reflecting what’s going on, and that’s what’s missing in Nollywood. “I can’t think of a single fun, relatable film/show that is coming out of Nollywood”. There’s too much focus on the “Nigerian” and less on the relatable. They are not telling these stories from the Gen Z/millenial perspective. It’s like they’re stuck in Gen X, and I get it that’s the generation running Nollywood now.” says Lola B. We couldn’t agree more and are excited to keep our eyes peeled for more content coming from the next generation of filmmakers.