By Harris Nathan, Film correspondent
Onyeka Nwelue has won the Best Director Award for a Feature Film at the Newark International Film Festival.
“I want to share the good news that I won the Best Director Award at the Newark International Film Festival on Sunday September 9, 2018”, Nwelue informed Bookartville.com in a Whatsapp message.
The award was won for his film Agwaetiti Obiụtọ (Island of Happiness), shot entirely in Igbo language, in August and September 2017 in Oguta, in Imo State and premiered at Harvard University on the 5th of May 2018.
The Newark International Film Festival (NIFF), the second edition of which Nwelue participated in, is dedicated to the art of storytelling through film
Agwaetiti Obiụtọ Is the story of Oguta, the lakeside town located in Imo State, on the easternmost flank of Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta basin. The slow paced movie focuses on four friends who return to the scenic, but sleepy town when they learned that the Niger Delta Development Company(NDDC), a government agency set up to provide infrastructure in the country’s oil rich but underserved communities, had declared it was going to hand out stipends to Oguta youths. The film’s narrative centres on how these four young men: Bugzy (played by Trap musician Obinna
Nwokedi who in real life goes by the stage name Obinna Nwokedi), Willie (played by Willie Samuel Iboro), Arbenco (played by Arbenco Aigbe) and Akanza, (played by Lorenzo Menakaya), came to rebel against the town’s ‘oppressors and imperialists’ including Papi (played by Paulcy Nnamdi Iwuala), Chief Mbanefo (played by Harry B. Anyanwu) and Reverend Father Amadi (played by Stevenson).
Nwelue, the 30 year old novelist, filmmaker and culture entrepreneur, says he has landed a Distribution deal for the film with Gravel Road Distribution Group in South Africa. The film has also been selected to screen at Lights, Camera, Africa!!! Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria.
Nwelue arrived Nigerian public consciousness with his novel The Abyssinian Boy, published by Dada Books. It is primarily a fictional account of a love affair between an Indian man and his Nigerian wife, but largely a documentary of the sights and sounds of New Delhi, the Indian capital. The book was published in 2009 when Nwelue was 21 and won the TM Aluko Prize for Fiction, came second at the Ibrahim Tahir Prize for First Book.