‘Now Showing’ by Nigerian Visual Artist Taiwo Aina, is a documentation of the reopening of cinemas across Nigeria. Due to COVID-19, many businesses were affected and were forced to close their doors to the general public, one of the industries that were especially hit the hardest by the worldwide lockdowns was the cinema industry. After months of closed doors and people being more inclined to set up a Netflix account, the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) opened all cinemas on the 11th of September and with this, came a whole wave of rules and regulations that is potentially changing the cinema industry indefinitely.
“A few months ago, people were used to going to cinemas. Almost every weekend people would go just to have fun and see a larger bit of the football game on a screen. Then Corona Virus came and people stopped watching movies and started using Netflix instead, I don’t think this has happened before in history and that is what inspired the story.” Explained Taiwo. With the reopening and certain rules and regulations that cinema-goers are forced to conform to, there is a form of ineptness and not quite knowing how to behave anymore, that has arisen. Taiwo manages to skilfully capture such peculiar shifts and the ways that cinema enthusiasts are adjusting to such changes.
When relaying her encounter with some staff members, Taiwo mentioned, “during my discussions with one of the staff at the cinema, he showed me one of his former pictures and compared it to how he is now. I could see how slim he has become. He explained to me that during the lockdown, no money was coming in, so it really affected his life.” Unfortunately, COVID-19 left many employees either without a job or on furlough, contributing to a number of mental health challenges and lack of money, A situation that many are unfortunately still finding themselves in.
“Through this ongoing project, I aim to capture how the people who are returning to the cinemas are forced to adjust to certain changes such as sitting apart to comply with social distancing, wearing their face masks and overall, capturing the struggles and hardships that the staff had to go through.” Stated Taiwo.
Taiwo Aina is a Visual Storyteller and Filmmaker specialising in documentary stories and creative portraits. To view the rest of her work, check out her website.