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Film Review: PYROLOSIS AND PARALISIS Director: Tunde Kelani. 3mins; Nigeria

Tunde Kelani has always made every matter count in his cinematic oeuvre, from the largest to the smallest detail. In all, every issue is laid bare for the audience to deal with. The fact is that the ace auteur of Nigerian cinema has always marked himself out to be as exceptional, surrounding himself with the most committed of people in order to have a perfect issue treated, in the perfect of ways.  Pyrolysis and Paralysis is a rare piece of documentary that possesses that brilliant ingenuity. The subject matter centres on the indiscriminate cutting down of tress for commercial use in various places where the trees do not only beautify the ambience, but also perform other functions. Tunde Kelani illustrates in his visual that when these trees are cut the material woods are actually used properly but, the land becomes an abandoned portion of a neglected arena. We see in the visual content how those who benefit from these trees actually preserve and transform the woods, and particularly creating charcoals out of them which is usually further used to produce fire at other places for various needs and purposes. The quintessential Tunde Kelani who is always passionate about change, and using cinema as asocial art, Kelani draws on composite media to illustrate this narrative of reality in a systematic and creative way. He provided pictures of these careless acts taking place as if they were done in real time. We feel the force of moving still pictures, and the diegetics of those events as if they were originally happening.  Various sounds coming from people talking, laughing, cutting down trees, and sounds of the machines used, the engine of a lorry which is used to take away loads of charcoal away to the neighbouring villages and also the cities. Another aspect that was observed was the deliberate use of poetic rendition of a European narrator. What strikes one about this is the fact that Kelani uses poetic language to describe the state of the prevailing action that we see through still pictures. The language is one steeped in sadness, pithy and retrospection and this invariably initiates rhetorical questions about what happens to the land, and how does it mature again after this destruction. Another question the documentary raised is the question of the threat to the lives of the tree, and why it must continue. Only a few years ago the former governor of Lagos State Tunde Fashola, initiated a programme which was meant to instigate people of Nigeria to see our trees as an important aspect in environmental protection and a way to protect trees. That programme saw to the mass planting of trees in Lagos, and this was to educate other states in the country to understand why the need to protect these trees should be of immense priority to everyone. But from the documentary, it is quite obvious that the project’s initiative and objective was a temporal one. Kelani’s use of soft music to accentuate the still photography and movements was well done in order to give that sombre mood and reflection in just a space of 3 minutes. The subversive arrangements of events of the people at work only show how Tunde Kelani has used the power of documentary filmmaking, to tell a story that should matter to all and sundry. And also, the length of the documentary also speaks volumes. This is in response to those who think making documentary is always an expensive venture because, the documentary filmmakr has the technology at his or her call and beckon, and the rigours of trying to raise funds should not matter at all. The point is Nigerians can make documentaries without bordering about having so much money that might not come at all. Although, if one is able to have huge funding, one can keep the money and think of some other kind of documentary that he or she wishes to do in the future. Tunde Kelani’s commitment to the African course has always been an important aspect of his films and, the thought of changing society or effecting change is of immense priority. The great auteur does not give answers to the questions that we ask about the conditions of  “Trees” or how best will the next government in power intervene in the situation, but he leaves it open for us to judge for ourselves and perhaps, provide measures to avoid the acts of cutting down trees. This kind of strategy permeates every single thing that Kelani has touched. Tunde Onikoyi iREP Media Team