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COVID-19: Kannywood artists, marketers groan as industry locks down

Kannywood artists, marketers groan

In recent times, the Kannywood movie industry has been facing difficult times, even before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. As a result of this, movie producers have stopped producing, according to a former Hausa movie dealer, Isa Hamza, also known as Show Boy.

“I can tell you that for over eight months now, the Hausa movie industry has not released a single movie into the market,’’ he said,

Similarly, a Kannywood actress, Hadiza Kabara, also revealed that most of the artists in the industry have now ventured into television series as normal film- making is no longer forthcoming.

“We rely on the industry to earn a living, so when we realised that the normal films we featured in were no longer coming, we were left with no option than to venture into the opportunity provided to us by television series, usually aired at Arewa24. However, with the COVID-19 issue, shooting of the series has been suspended. To be honest, Hausa film artists need prayers as we are trapped in our own profession,’’ she said.

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Another artist in the industry, Abba El-Mustapha, revealed that businesses have stopped. According to him, artists no longer have roles to play and earn a living because the producers have stopped producing movies, and the market has closed.

“The pandemic has affected the only avenue that has been helping the Hausa movie industry – the cinema and satellite stations that are airing most of our television series.

”We are now facing a serious problem because shooting of most of the television series has stopped. Shooting a move on site involves having contact with a lot of people. So because of the advice on social distancing by health officials, shooting and producing movies have to be put on hold. We are truly facing trying moments. We pray to God to enable us survive it. The industry is counting losses day by day,’’ Al-Mustapha said.

The drop in the industry’s market and artists’ income is said to have started even before the coronavirus pandemic manifested in the country. It is on record that dealers in Hausa films had raised the alarm over low patronage in the production and sale of Hausa movies as viewers preferred cinemas and other programmes on satellite television stations.

Daily Trust Saturday learnt that some operators of the film industry had sought for intervention to prevent their businesses from total collapse while others ventured into other businesses.

It was also gathered that most of the Hausa movie dealers at Kofar Wambai market, which serves as the centre for distribution, have started changing their businesses. Many have resorted to children’s wears or textile businesses.

The national chairman of the Hausa Guild of Actors, Alhassan Kwalle, said the industry had been in ‘financial coma’ before the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the industry has not been able to adopt new and innovative operational strategies.

He further said the pandemic had worsened the situation as all activities have been halted, resulting in a huge loss for the industry.

“I can’t tell you the exact amount of money the industry has lost as a result of these issues, but I can authoritatively tell you that the loss is worth billions of naira. Artists have been rendered jobless and marketers are virtually changing businesses,’’ Kwalle said.

The producer, artist and director, however, believes the industry would recover from the losses, adding that it is natural for industries to lose or gain.

“We were lucky to have finished shooting Gidan Badamasi before the lockdown. Not many were that lucky. It is not only Kannywood; some other places have introduced online streaming of their movies, and through that, they were able to minimise their losses. Kannywood is indeed in trying moments, but I am hopeful that it would bounce back,’’ he said.

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