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<strong>Obi Emelonye on Attaining the Status of “Gangstar Film Director” – Chief Original Gangstar</strong>

Obi Emelonye on Attaining the Status of “Gangstar Film Director” – Chief Original Gangstar 

Yes. There are film directors, and then there are Gangstar Directors. No doubt, all directors need their accolades. There is no room that Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Steven Spielberg will be mentioned without the crowd erupting in maddening applause. But let us not forget that among the world’s best film directors, there are Nigerians who are pulling gangstar moves like they are flipping pancakes on a pan. It’s surprising how feats like this can go over our heads unnoticed, but we have got this one in the bag for you. Ever heard of a movie being directed on Zoom? Well, let’s introduce you to the First Nigerian director to do so. In today’s issue of Chief Original Gangstar, our COG is Obi Emelonye, a 56-year-old Nigerian-British filmmaker, director, and producer who is one of the few new school directors to be recognised for their work internationally. In this issue, we will be revealing why he has earned the award of “Gangstar Director”, trailing his very unique career path, and acknowledging other phenomenal contributions he has made to the film industry.

When we say “new-school director”, we do not mean that Obi Emelonye is new to the game of bringing magic to the screen. In fact, He took his place behind the camera back in 2000 and has been faithful to his passion. Obi is a certified new-school director because he has successfully implemented all the resources of the new and digital world into his venture as a filmmaker in a way that has been able to overcome challenges that others in his field may face. Let’s paint you a picture. Remember in 2020 when COVID-19 suddenly put the world at a standstill; shutting down businesses and plunging us into worldwide grounding and social distancing? In that same year, Obi Emelonye became the first film director to make a movie via Zoom, by working remotely with cast members in Lagos and London. 

Directing a movie on-site is already a tasking job, let alone shouting directives and instructions over a device. One could only imagine the rigorous efforts this could take. But Obi Emelonye achieved it and the movie was successfully produced. A feat worthy of a Guinness World Records Award, if we were asked. But who’s asking? However, the movie in question, Heart 2 Heart, received critical acclaim from major media outlets all over the world, and in December 2022, Obi Emelonye was presented with the British Urban Film Festival honorary award for over 20 years of outstanding contribution to cinema at a ceremony in London.

Though Obi Emelonye has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film Studies from the University of Nigeria, he is also a former professional footballer and law professional. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in 1990, he went further to obtain a Law Degree from the University of Wolverhampton in 1998 and completed a postgraduate degree in Legal Practice from the London Metropolitan University in 2002. Being a lawyer through and through; by the book and by the law, Obi Emelonye resorted to practising law for a few years. But we know the story of first loves and how they never go away. Obi’s passion for film kept tugging at him until he eventually succumbed to it and returned to the drawing board. Following this new path of creating screen magic, Obi went on to direct and produce many globally renowned movies; including Last Flight to Abuja, The Mirror Boy, and Onye Ozi. Currently, he is a member of the UK Directors Guild as well as the British Film Institute (BFI). In 2021, he won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Film by an African Living Abroad, and in 2023, he was nominated as Best Director in the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards. We would still like to contest that Guinness World Record Award though… But, in the meantime, we are awarding him the Chief Original Gangstar Award for Best Gangstar Director.

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