Emem Isong

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Emem Isong is a Nigerian screenwriter, film producer, and director. She has become known primarily for films in the English language, and is a dominant figure in that industry. Her second directed feature, Code of Silence, which deals with rape in Nigeria, was released in 2015.

Early life and education[edit]

Emem Isong, who is the first child in her family of 4 children, was born on 5 September and is from Ikono Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria.[1] She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts from the University of Calabar. Isong obtained a diploma in computer science from the Computer Science Institute (NCR).[2]

Career[edit]

Emem Isong’s career in filmmaking began in 1994 when she wrote the script and co-produced the movie Jezebel. Her very first solo production was for the movie Breaking Point (1996). She then went on to work with Remmy Jez for eight years as a producer on his movies. This relationship lasted till 2008 when she decided to end their working relationship. It was at this time that she co-produced the movie Reloaded (2008).[3]

She has written or produced for films such as Reloaded, Breaking Point, She Devil, A Minute To Midnight, Play Boy, Private Sin, Master Stroke, Rumours, Shattered Illusion, and Promise Me Forever and Emotional Crack (2003) (screenplay),[4] the latter of which was screened at the African Film Festival in New York City.[5] She has also become known primarily for Yoruba language pictures and is a dominant figure in that industry.[6]

The movies Emem Isong has been involved in are also noteworthy for being the launching grounds for various Nollywood talents including Stephanie Okereke, Dakore Egbuson among others.[7]

In 2014 Isong directed her first feature film Champagne, which had its premiere at the Silverbird Galleria in Victoria Island, Lagos.[8] In August 2015 she released the film Code of Silence, her second directed feature film which she also produced, working with the Royal Arts Academy and Nollywood Workshop, an international NGO that aims to encourage change in the society through the use of movies.[9] The film, which deals with rape in Nigeria, stars Makida Moka, Patience Ozokwor, Ini Edo, and Omoni Oboli.[10]

Emem Isong’s expertise in the movie industry has also allowed her to be chosen as a speaker in the Afrinolly masterclass series and also as a judge for the MTN Afrinolly short film completion in 2013.[11] In her movies Emem Isong attempts above all to thrill the audience[12]

Legacy[edit]

Emem has also been listed as a maverick in the New Nollywood movement which is categorized by filmmakers who are not just interested in producing movies, but in producing movies that can be considered substantial and artful products. These movies are usually categorized by an extra effort made by the filmmakers to ensure not only the methods, but also the tools of production employed by the film makers are of substantial quality. It is no longer about production for the sake of production, but rather production for art’s sake. These movies are also made to have not only domestic, but also international appeal as they are usually released in cinemas in Nigeria and in also in foreign cinemas. This shift from home video production to cinema viewing is also a category of this New Nollywood movement.[13][14]

Emem Isong is also known for her role in founding the Royal Arts Academy in 2010 and her subsequent role as the academy’s CEO. The Royal Arts Academy which she started with Uduak Oguamanam, Anietie Isong, and actress Monalisa Chinda, is based in Surulere, Lagos State, Nigeria.[15] The academy has tasked itself with a mandate concerned with the empowerment of its students by giving them the necessary tools required to take part in all aspects of film creation and production. The academy is dedicated to producing students who can not just compete and excel in the Nigerian film industry, but also in the international film industry.[16][17] Apart from teaching students what they need to begin a career in the movie industry, the academy also gives students the opportunity to win funding to help them begin their career by actually producing movies the general public can see.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Emem Isong is known to be very private and prefers to stay mostly out of the public eye, she rarely grants interviews. This, according to her, is because she wishes her work to be consumed on its merits alone without her personal life influencing her viewers.[19] However, Isong is married to Misodi Akama[8] with whom she had twins with in 2016.[20] She also has a son from a previous relationship.[21]

Filmography[edit]

Emem Isong's film credits include:[22]

Producer credits[edit]

Movie Title Year of Release
Ayamma 2016
Don't Cry For Me 2015
Apaye 2014
Knocking on Heaven's Door 2014
Forgetting June 2013
Silver Lining 2012
I'll Take My Chances 2011
Kiss and Tell 2010
Bursting Out 2010
Holding Hope 2010
Memories of War 2010
Edikan 2009
Reloaded 2008
A Time To Love 2007
Unfinished Business 2007
Yahoo Millionaire 2007
Games Men Play 2006
Traumatised 2006
Behind Closed Doors 2005
Darkest Night 2005
Endless Lies 2005
Games Women Play 2005
Girls in the Hood 2005
I Feel U 2005
Men Do Cry 2005
Critical Decision 2004
For Real 2004
Masterstroke 2004
Promise Me Forever 2004
Private Sin 2003
Breaking Point 1996
Jezebel 1994

Writer credits[edit]

Movie Title Year of Release
I'll Take My Chances 2011
Bursting Out 2008
Heartbeats 2008
Reloaded 2008
A Time to Love 2007
Unfinished Business 2007
Yahoo Millionaire 2007
Games Men Play 2006
Blind Obsession 2005
Darkest Night 2005
Fragile Pain 2005
I Feel U 2005
Enslaved 2004
Promise Me Forever 2004
Emotional Crack 2003
Jezebel 1994

Director credits[edit]

Movie Title Year Of Release
Champagne 2014
Code of Silence 2015

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards received by Emem Isong include:[23][24]

  • ZAFAA Awards, in the category of Best Producer for the movie Memories of my Heart (2010)
  • Wow Divas, Outstanding Contribution to Raising Awareness, Understanding and Hope to those Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and Advocating for them through her movie Silver Lining(2012)
  • Eloy Awards, Best Movie Producer of the Year for I’ll Take My Chances (2011)
  • Best of Nollywood, Special Recognition Award;
  • Ntanla Awards, Industry Merit Awards.
  • Nigeria’s Integrity Film Awards(HomeVida) in the category Family/Child Friendly Category for the movie Knocking on the Heavens Door (2014)
  • Africa Movie Awards in the category of Best Scriptwriter for the movie Reloaded (2008)
  • City Peoples Award in the categories of Best Producer of the Year, and Best Screenplay for the movie Reloaded (2008)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "iROKOtv Nollywood Icon Birthday: Emem Isong". IrokoTV Blog. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Emem Isong". Sodas 'N' Popcorn. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  3. ^ Olehi. "How Emem Isong emerged Nollywood's most prolific filmmaker". Encomium. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  4. ^ Epprecht, Marc (15 August 2008). Heterosexual Africa?: The History of an Idea from the Age of Exploration to the Age of AIDS. Ohio University Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-8214-4298-2.
  5. ^ "Emem Isong Biography/ Profile". Nigeria Movies Review. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  6. ^ Miller, Jade L. (28 April 2016). Nollywood Central. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-84457-694-4.
  7. ^ Lindsey Green-Simms; Unoma Azuah (2012). "The Video Closet: Nollywood's gay-themed movies". Transition. Indiana University Press (107): 32–49. JSTOR 10.2979/transition.107.32.
  8. ^ a b "Cute Couple! Emem Isong & Hubby Misodi Akama for 'Champagne' Movie Premiere". Bella Naija. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Emem Isong". African Women Leadership Organization. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Emem Isong makes case for rape victims in 'Code of Silence'". Vanguard. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Afrinolly MasterClass Series With Charles Aniagolu and Emem Isong". Bits. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Emem Isong Biography/ Profile". Nigeria Movies Review.
  13. ^ Haynes, Jonathan (1 January 2014). "Close-Up:Nollywood—A Worldly Creative Practice: "New Nollywood":Kunle Afolayan". Black Camera. Indiana University Press. 5 (2): 53–73. doi:10.2979/blackcamera.5.2.53. JSTOR 10.2979/blackcamera.5.2.53.
  14. ^ Alessandro Jedlowski (1 March 2014). "Nigerian Videos in the Global Arena: The Postcolonial Exotic Revisited". The Global South. 7 (1): 157–178. ISSN 1932-8656.
  15. ^ "Emem Isong opens acting academy". Nigeria Films. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  16. ^ "About Us". Royal Arts Academy. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Emem Isong's Royal Arts Academy To Improve Film-Making in Nigeria". Nigeria Movie Network. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  18. ^ Tosan (27 October 2015). "Royal Arts Academy spotlights Film Contest and Awards". Trendy Africa. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  19. ^ Ekerete Udoh; Benjamin Njoku (16 July 2011). "Emem Isong opens up on her private life…Why I'm not married". Vanguard. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Nollywood Producer Emem Isong & her Twins in New Adorable Photos". Bella Naija. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  21. ^ Gbenga Bada (5 June 2015). "Movie producer pour encomium on son as he turns 8". Pulse. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  22. ^ "Emem Isong". IMDb. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Star of the Week: Emem Isong". Africa Magic. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Winners". Nigeria’s Integrity Film Awards. Retrieved 17 October 2016.