Nigerian female filmmaker holds movie premiere in Baltimore

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The Nigerian film industry is growing and the world is taking notice. In June, Fortune magazine reported that as of 2009, Nigeria surpassed Hollywood and is now the second largest film industry in the world by volume, after the Indian film industry called Bollywood.

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“XYZA” was shot on location in Baltimore and around other parts of Maryland.

Ola Balogun; Hubert Ogunde; Jab Adu; Moses Olaiya; and Eddie Ugboma are considered the first generation of Nigerian filmmakers who laid the foundation for Nollywood, which is known as the Nigerian film industry. By the nineties, Nollywood expanded within Africa, before attracting a global following.

As Nollywood Africa continues to evolve, 40-year-old Remi Momodu aspires to make a meaningful contribution to Nollywood USA. By day, Momodu works as a full-time nurse in Baltimore County, but the busy wife and mother of four has not left her creative aspirations behind. Momodu is the executive producer and the filmmaker of the forthcoming movie, “XYZA,” which will be shown in Baltimore on July 11, 2015. Sixty cast and crewmembers contributed to Momodu’s first feature project. However, the presence of women who produce or direct African films is still relatively rare.

“It is not very common, and so we are picking up as well, and are trying to gain ground in that area,” Momodu said.

Originally from Nigeria, Momodu spent most of her time living in Baltimore over the last 20 years, although she now resides in Howard County. She majored in Criminal Justice at University of Baltimore, completed studies at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and is currently working toward earning her MBA from the University of Baltimore.

Despite her noteworthy academic achievements, Momodu has had an

interest in the struggles of women and children, from the age of nine or ten. While growing up in her homeland, Momodu began to form opinions about gender equality and the treatment of women. In 2014, she founded Unique Me Productions, a local company, which provides custom and high-quality commercial video production and music video production. The first time the screenwriter made her acting debut in 2013 by appearing in several African movies, such as a comedy called “American Mama.” Momodu also took the basics of filming and acting classes, to understand the elements of film before pursuing “XYZA.”

She remarked that supporters are happy to observe a woman addressing the issue of domestic violence in film. In the lead role, Momodu portrays Xyza—a medical student whose professional dream was nearly derailed after meeting a Nigerian expatriate living in the U.S. Xyza battles mental, emotional and physical abuse, but Momodu chose to tell the story from a perspective that addresses stigma.

“With telling the story from Xyza’s point of view, you don’t have to remain in an abusive relationship. It’s okay to be a single mom. It’s okay to be divorced and still have your life, and still have your children,” Momodu said. “The movie is about bringing more awareness to that issue [of domestic violence]. A lot of men and women are suffering. Our goal is to try to educate people, enlighten people, also help people to learn more about the issue, and also for them to get help before it’s too late.”

Momodu strives to become a change agent in society. Exploring an important issue through film is one way that she is moving toward achieving her goal.

“We can benefit from watching what we live through,” Momodu said. “Whether you are white, black or [regardless of] where you come from, you can certainly relate to the story and also benefit from it.”

A premiere of “XYZA” will take place on Saturday, July 11, 2015 at the Best Western Plus Hotel located at 5625 O’Donnell Street in Baltimore at 7 p.m. An after-party will follow.

To learn more about the film, visit: www.uniquemeproductions.com and to purchase tickets for the premiere, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/xyza-movie-premiere-tickets-16796444618.