By Damiete Braide
As a way of creating awareness on the plight of homeless and street children in society, the Salesians of Don Bosco, in conjunction with Nollywood factory, recently premiered a new film, The Oratory in Lagos and Abuja.
The film was directed by Obi Emelonye, a Nigerian film director, and produced by Cyril Odia, a Nigerian Salesian priest presently serving in Dublin, Ireland. Some of the artistes who featured in the film included Enyinna Nwigwe, Rich Lowe Ikenna, Florence Okechukwu, Lawrence Nwali, Andrea Ferrara, David Davidson, Stephen Ogunnote and some street children.
The film features an American priest sent from Turin, Italy, to a parish in Lagos, who must step on dangerous toes on both sides of a divided city in order to reach the street children whose plights evoke parallels with Don Bosco’s Oratory in the 1800.
Gbenga Adebija, Chairman of the organising committee of the Oratory film premiere said, “The movie features an impressive array of both Nigerian and international movie stars and was filmed at various locations in Rome, Atlanta, Lagos and Turin. The Oratory is an internationally acclaimed movie which has received rave reviews all over the world where it has premiered in places such as Dublin, London, Turin and Venice.
Gbenga added The Oratory was not just a movie but an integral aspect of a broader multi-dimensional initiative, “which not only reminds us individually and as a collective of our civic responsibilities towards street children but also creates an inclusionary framework for the upliftment of homeless, delinquent and juvenile youths who are at risk of negative societal issues such as violence, sexual abuse, trafficking and crime.”
Executive Producer of the Movie, Dr Cyril Odia, who is a Nigerian Salesian priest, said, “This is the first Catholic movie from Nigeria that’s focusing on something like this.” He explained why amateur actors were included in the movie, “Some of them have the natural gift. To encourage them, some of the children who live on the streets acted in this film. If we get more support like this, what stops us from making 10 films in the next 10 years and get more of these children to be actors?”
Rev. Mark Anthony, Director, Don Bosco Child Protection Centre, Lagos, remarked, “We all need to take seriously what we hear and what we would watch in the film. There are many lessons to be learnt, and we need to decide for ourselves what we can do to make sure these children are not necessarily on the street.”
Mr Denis Onoise, a representative from UNICEF (Child Protection Specialist), commended the priests’ effort, addind, “We are particularly interested in these children. And we believe that, like other children, their rights should be protected. That’s our hope, that we get more people who are willing to do this work and who are willing to be supported. At UNICEF, we don’t work alone; we’ll be working with these donours and partners; and hope many more people are involved.”