Izu Ojukwu is a Nigerian film director, cinematographer, scriptwriter, and editor. He is the director of the Nigerian historical fiction drama film ‘76 produced in 2016.
Basically, Izu is an award-winning movie producer whose films have received recognition both locally and internationally. His success is a result of his determination and self-development.
Izu Ojukwu Background
Izuchukwu Ojukwu was born as the fourth child of a large polygamous family of 20 children. He grew up and schooled in Jos. He attended St. John’s College, Jos, and started learning film making from school. Before then, he was making money from drawing and painting. So, he became independent from an early age.
Later on, he got obsessed with photography and film; and began to see a career in them. He started visiting national and state libraries in Jos to get books on film production, especially from the National Film Institute, Jos.
For years, Izu was reading books he borrowed until people started calling him to be a resource person for their film production classes. In 2002, he got his first invitation as a resource person from Vassar College, New York to teach guerrilla film making. Eventually, he attended a film school in the United States.
Izu Ojukwu Early Career
Coming from a large polygamous family, Ojukwu started having the thought to entertain his family during dinners, when all the children sat together to eat. So, he started making puppets and animal mask he could think of from the folktale stories his mother told him. Then, he would ask his siblings to act and walk like different animals based on his perception, using the mask. While doing this for some years in the 80s, Izu was unknowingly setting the pace for his career.
Also, he visited cinemas to watch Indian and Chinese films from the projecting room after making friends with the projector operator. Afterwards, he constructed a projector from the sample he saw in the cinema and projected films from his father’s garage. He would gather children in the garage and make them watch his film for just a token.
Subsequently, he improved and used every opportunity to learn more. Later on, he constructed a camera, created a tripod, and made his young ones stand in front to read news. All of these was gearing him towards film making.
Eventually, in 1996, he produced his first film, an Igbo film, titled Moment of Bitterness. Next, A Home Too Far (1997), Eva, the River of Mystery (1998) and many more. Then, he began to produce award winning movies like Sitanda (2006), Across the Niger (2007), The child (2009), and in 2016, ‘76.
Altogether, Izu has worked with thespians like; Ramsey Nouah, Omotola Jalade, Olu Jacobs, Joke Silva, Rita Dominic, Ireti Doyle, Stephanie Okereke, Chidi Mokeme e.t.c
Izu Ojukwu Films
- Moment of Bitterness, 1996
- A Home too Far, 1997
- Eva The River of Mystery, 1998
- Line of Duty, 2003
- Showdown, 2000
- The World is Mine, 2001
- Love Boat, 2001
- Eleventh Hour, 2001
- Desperadoes 1 & 2, 2001
- Battle of Love, 2003
- Moving Train, 2003
- Across the Niger, 2007
- No One But You, 2004
- Otondo, 2004
- Iva, 2004
- GL 1 & 2, 2005
- Sitanda, 2006
- Shut In, 2006
- Laviva, 2007
- Minority Tension, 2007
- White Waters, 2007
- Who Will Tell The President, 2007
- Cindy’s Note, 2008
- Distance Between, 2008
- Nnenda, 2009
- The Child, 2009
- Alero’s Symphony, 2010
- ’76, 2016
- Power of 1, 2018
Awards And Recognition
- Best Director ‘Sitanda’ Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), 2007
- Best Director ‘White Waters’ Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), 2007
- The Best Nigerian Film, ‘Across The Niger’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2008
- Best Director, Best of Nollywood, 2009
- The Best Director ‘76’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2017
- Best Director ’’76‘ Africa International Film Festivals, 2017
- Overall Best Film ‘’76’ Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award, 2017
- Best Picture Director, ’’76’ Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award, 2017
- The Prix du Public (Audience Choice) awards, Nollywood Week Paris, 2017.
- Best Nigerian Film ‘White Waters’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2008 Nomination
- Best Nigerian Film ‘Nnenda’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2010 Nomination
- The Best Nigerian Film ‘The Child’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2010 Nomination
- Best Nigerian Film ‘Alero’s Symphony’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2012 Nomination
Izu Ojukwu Quotes
“When a nation loses respect for history, straying from the harbor of safety becomes inevitable.”
“The greatest tragedy of our time is ignorance.”
“I work on subjects very close to my heart and film is a medium of expression for me.”
“No matter how long, tough or rough a journey might be, when it comes to an end the distance becomes history.”
“No amount of astonishing cinematography, or editing can save a hurriedly written script with cliche dialogue and contrived scenes.”
“The ideal director does not exist, every director is a work in progress…the older you get, the better your craft, unless you are a banana.”
“I like to call myself a mythmaker. I make myths for a living and people believe them.”
“Sometimes our works are validated through awards, which are like a pat on the back.”
“I tell stories of people the world needs to hear. I am a projector of whatever they are trying to communicate and that is where my satisfaction lies.”
“If one’s desire is to influence, money will always come. If the desire is just to go in and make money, the content will be watery.”
Entrepreneurial Lessons From The Life Of Izu Ojukwu
Ojukwu is one of the most successful directors in Nigeria today because of his passion for his work. From an early age, Ojukwu has been obsessed with photography and film. He started with self-learning by borrowing books from the National Film Institute, Jos. Dr. Ekwuazi saw this passion and regularly gave him books on film to read.
Basically, in life, nothing is as important as passion, it is the basics for fulfillment of plans and dreams.
There are poor communication practices and little respect for history in Africa. Ojukwu noticed that the subject, history no longer holds water in the secondary school curriculum. This, he inferred could deter the younger generation from having full access to what has happened in Nigeria in the past.
Ojukwu sourced for ways to correct this deficiency. He thought of replicating history in a movie form, while also fulfilling his intent for his movies, which is educating. So, he came up with the historical film ‘76.
With all indications, ‘76 will remain a timeless movie. It will help the younger generation learn about where they are coming from.
Ingenuity is one of the attributes of Izu. He sees film as a medium of expression and his satisfaction lies in creatively telling the world the stories they need to hear. He believes there must be a genuine reason for production. Although, there are different factors that contribute to movie production, for him, making impacting films comes first, having financial returns is secondary.
According to him, “When you have the different factors at the back of your mind, you strike a balance between creativity and commercial viability, so that you are not overtly creative while leaving the essence.”
Basically, if one’s desire is to influence, money will always come. If the desire is just to go in and make money, the content might just be watery.
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