Nigeria: Nollywood, UK Govt Partner in New Film ‘Hijack 93 – the Mad Men and the Aircraft’

Vanessa Obioha writes a Nigeria-United Kingdom co-production that tells the true-life story of the 1993 plane hijack is in the works

_”Ladies and Gentlemen, this plane has been taken over by MAD Men; Movement for the Actualization of Democracy… MAD… . Remain calm, we will not harm you. You will be told where the plane will land” (‘Hijack 93: The Mad Men and the Aircraft’)_

Once upon a time in 1993, four self-proclaimed MAD Men — Nigerian teenagers championing a Movement for the Actualization of Democracy (MAD)– found themselves on board an aircraft heading to Abuja from Lagos. Midway into the trip, the MAD Men overpowered both crew and passengers, and hijacked the plane. After several attempts to coerce the pilot to reroute the flight to Frankfurt, Germany, in a protest showing their dissatisfaction for the series of events that followed the June 12 elections that democratically elected Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, MKO Abiola, as the Nigerian president-elect, they explored the option of landing the plane at Niamey, Niger Republic, where they held the plane hostage for seventy hours with demands to enthrone democracy in Nigeria.

Fast forward to 2019, Charles Okpaleke – a multiple award-winning filmmaker and CEO of Play Network Studios announced his initiative to create a movie based on this true-life story. As seen on his social media, Okpaleke announced, “I’ve just approved the final draft of this exciting thriller, and my team and I are set to commence principal photography.”

His announcement was met with exciting and encouraging comments from friends, acquaintances and well-wishers.

The movie ‘The Hijack 93: The Mad Men and the Aircraft’ is an unequalled creative mission by two of the most prolific film production companies in Nigeria, Play Network Studios and Native Media TV, in collaboration with UK-based filmmaker, Femi Oyeniran. The co-production, largely supported by the UK Government Department of International Trade (DIT), who have been actively seeking and facilitating UK-Nigeria co-productions in the film and TV space, and the British Film Institute, BFI, aims to tell this legendary African story through the prism of motion pictures. The co-collaborators find this project most expedient for encouragement because they acknowledge that “what happens to us is our story, and the stories we tell become our history. The story of the African person must be told and defined by Africans.”

This co-production promises to be a work of marvel between three Nigerian critically acclaimed producers, and one of the finest UK producers and filmmakers. First, Rogers Ofime; a multi award-winning filmmaker who needs no introduction. His movies ‘Voiceless’, ‘Olobiri’ and many more tell stories that resonate in a didactic manner and speak volumes of his experience and exposure in the industry.

Okpaleke, the man behind the initiative, with award-winning movies including sequels and remakes to Nollywood classics such as ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’, :Rattlesnake: the Ahanna Story’ and ‘Glamour Girls’, brings to the partnership his innovation, audacity and dedication to excellence.

Thirdly, Agozie Ugwu, a highly cerebral film director and producer, who produced the recently released ‘Aki and Pawpaw’ for Play Network Studios, an erudite film scholar with a host of academic feathers to his portfolio.

And lastly, Oyeniran, one of the finest British producers and directors with an avalanche of experience in filmmaking including writing an episode on the Netflix Original series ‘Turn Up Charlie’ by Idris Elba. Femi has been a major player in the following productions; Sky Atlantic Series: Tin Star, Comedy Central’s Drunk History: Black Stories, as well as BET’s first UK-originated programme, The Culture Capsule. More details of the upcoming film is available on the Play Network Studios website.

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